Summoning apps/windows to a Spaces desktop on macOS

I’m seeking ideas/recommendations for a minor weird workflow issue: when I open an app/window in a different desktop, is there a way to “summon” it to the current desktop?

This is in service of a “setups” problem.

A couple of times a day I’ll realize that I’ve been working in the same desktop on different problems and, as a result, I’ve got a dozen things open across three or four different objectives.

So I’ll want to get three or four of those windows into a new space. Trouble is, this takes a lot of friction. I have to:

  1. create the new desktop
  2. Go back to the previous desktop
  3. Drag-and-drop a window I want in the new desktop from the previous desktop
  4. Repeat 2–3 until satisfied.

Inevitably, I’ll forget something. Then, when I alt+tab back to that window (or launch the app via Alfred, or whatever), I get forced back to the previous desktop.

The ideal solution for this, for me, would be that when I activate a window, if it’s in a different workspace, it moves the window to the current workspace. Is there any utility or preference out there that’d do this? A brief search suggests not.

I’m also open to other ideas!

Interesting. When I push three fingers up on my trackpad to enter Mission Control and then click the plus sign to make a new Space, I stay in the original Space. And then I can push one or more apps up to the new Space without leaving and having to return. Maybe because I’m using only my MacBook Air without an attached external monitor?

Mission control

(VIdeo had TMI)
You can also right-click an app in the Dock, Options, Assign to a Desktop.

This does not happen for me. This is what I do in this case:

  1. Move cursor to hot corner to bring up spaces across the top of monitors.
  2. Click the “+” in the upper right to create a new space.
  3. Drag as many windows as I want from the current space to the new space.
  4. Click on the new space to bring focus to that space.

If there are windows in multiple spaces that I want in the same space, then yes, I’ll need to go space to space as you describe.

And unless I’ve set an app to open in a specific space, whenever I open an app it stays in the space with focus.

Are you holding onto the app above the new workspace for too long before you let go?

Sorry, all, I mischaracterized my issue.

Indeed, initial setup is fine. It’s the “D’oh, I forgot Excel,” and “oh right, I also forgot that OmniGraffle window” and so on that is my current consternation — that’s what requires the hunt-and-peck of switching spaces.

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Still a little confused on the context, but, maybe Bunch would help.

Bunch is awesome for setting up sets of apps, docs, folders, etc. if you know what you need ahead of time. I have a dozen Bunches set up and use it every day.

But for ad hoc situations, which is what @ryanjamurphy seems to be dealing with, I don’t think it would be much help. And I don’t know of any tools that would address this use case.

But if you do know ahead of time the set of tools you need, and the issue is you forget to launch them all, then Bunch is the answer.

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Yeah, like I said, a little confusing.
If it’s just a matter of having an app open on a specific desktop, then the Assign to Desktop option would be the way to go.



This may be a variation of your current process, but here’s how I use Spaces and Mission Control together.

I have Mission Control set in the lower right “Hot Corner”. When I need to re-arrange a Space I move my cursor to the lower right which exposes the apps on my current desktop. Then I move the cursor to the top of the screen which allows me to see everything on my active space and the other spaces at the same time. While everything is visible I can select any program or app window I want and move it to the desired space.

Start the process from the space containing the program you want to move. Everything is done with my mouse.

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Lots of good tips here, thanks all!

Ideally, I’d like to change the behaviour of activating apps across Spaces such that:

  • when you activate a window that isn’t on the current desktop
  • instead of pushing you to the desktop the window is on
  • the window instead would get pulled to the space I’m on.

To try a third time to explain clearly…

The friction I’m experiencing is that when I’m working in a new desktop, I often forget several windows in the initial set up. Retrieving those forgotten windows then means switching back and forth across spaces as I try to find them all.

If, instead, launching the relevant app or alt-tabbing to the window just brought it forward, it’d be a lot less disorienting.

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This is why I suggested Bunch, more as a prophylactic that ensures you start off with the right setup.

This Alfred workflow does it.


The workflow requieres yabai.

You might need to adjust the path. Run which yabai in Terminal and replace the path in the Script Filter and Run Script actions.

Well seems I can’t upload a zip here. If you want the workflow PM me your mail address.


@JohnAtl Thanks! I’ll check it out.

@Pete That just might work… Thanks for the tip!

I make extensive use of Spaces and have similar issues, but I don’t know that there’s a solution (that would work for me). I often have multiple windows from the same application open on multiple Spaces for different projects (BBEdit, Terminal, Safari are the main culprits). The only thing worse than being flung back to a Space with a forgotten window would be to have all of my Terminal or Safari windows suddenly abandon their respective Spaces and stampede into the currently active one :laughing:


Just found out by accident that yabai is capable of jumping to different tabs (I almost always use Fork with only one open repo).

(Didn’t try other apps’ tabs yet, except Safari which yabai doesn’t seem to handle).

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