Assign Apps To Desktops

If you use Mission Control, you can assign an app to a specific desktop so when you launch it it automatically appears on that desktop instead of the current desktop. You can also assign an app to appear on all desktops, which is handy for note-taking and other tasks.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Assign Apps To Desktops.

If you use Mission Control one of the frustrations you may run into is that if you quit an app and then you launch it again instead of returning to the desktop it was on it's on your current desktop or a new one. But you can specifically assign an application to a desktop so that even if you quit it and relaunch it it appears where you want it to. Not only that but you could also have an application appear across all your desktops.

So let's start off with a crowded desktop with a bunch of apps running. I'm going to initiate Mission Control with the keyboard shortcut Control up arrow. Then I'm going to add additional desktops. Let's say two more desktops. I'll drag Pages to this one. I'll put Calendar and also Safari on this one. I'll leave Notes running here on this first desktop.

Now I can go into any of these and move between them with Control right arrow, Control left arrow to go between those three different desktops.

So let's go back over to desktop three where I have two apps running; Safari and Calendar. I'm going to click on Calendar to make that the front most app. I'm going to quit it. Now I'm going to go back to desktop one and launch it again and Calendar is now going to launch now on desktop one. But that's not where I want it. I want it to stay on desktop three.

So let me move it back there. I'm going to drag and drop it back onto desktop three and go to desktop three where it is. Now I'm going to set it to stay at desktop three even if I quit the app. I can do that by going down to the Dock, Control clicking and choosing Options.

So I Control click Calendar, choose Options, and you can see I can Assign it to All Desktops, None (where it is now) so it will appear wherever it is I currently am when I launch it, or a specific desktop. Notice that it has three different display options. That's because I have three screens on my MacPro but you'll only see one. You'll just see one desktop there.

So I'm going to say Yes I want it to stay here, display one is what you are currently seeing. Again you'll just see just one option there. Then now it should stay here.

I'm going to quit Calendar. Now I'm going to go to desktop one and I'm going to launch Calendar. Calendar will launch on desktop three and it will switch me to desktop three automatically.

Now you can also have it appear on all desktops at once. So let's go back to the first desktop here where I have Notes. This is an application you may want to do this with. If your taking Notes on various things you may want to assign this to all desktops.

So I'm going to go down here into the Dock and Control click on Notes. Go to Options and assign to All Desktops. Now I can look here and I don't see it actually appear on any of the desktops here in Mission Control but it is there on desktop one. If I go Control right arrow to desktop two there's Notes there as well. Desktop three there's Notes there as well. So Notes appears there on all three desktops.

So this is handy for Notes, for Calendar, for Reminders, for apps like that or even web browser window sometimes have it appear across your desktops at the same time.

Comments: 7 Responses to “Assign Apps To Desktops”

    c ross
    2 years ago

    Hi Gary, I noticed you placed the calendar app on all 3 desktops. If I make a change in calendar on desktop 3, will it change the other 2 calendars open in Desktop 1 and 2? thanks so much

    2 years ago

    It is the same calendar. You are just looking at the same thing on all three desktops.

    Rachel D.
    2 years ago

    I’ve been trying to assign my Safari to Desktop 2, and Mail to Desktop 1, but when I control-click on my dock, my options do not show that I currently have multiple desktops running. Do I have an option/setting turned off somewhere?

    2 years ago

    Rachel: What version of macOS are you using? Do you perhaps have these already set to full-screen mode? Are the apps currently running?

    Jason Brambach
    2 years ago

    I tried this with my late 2015 27″ iMac running Sierra 10.12.1 and when I ctrl click on an app there are only 3 options under “options” which are: “keep in dock, open at log in, & show in finder”…there is no “display on desktop 1” option available. I really do not know what the issue is and why it is absent. Thank you for the help, Gary.

    2 years ago

    Jason: Are you using Mission Control? Sounds like you are not — you only have one Mission Control desktop, in other words. If so, assigning an app to a desktop doesn’t make any sense so it won’t appear.

    Jason Brambach
    2 years ago

    I see my error: in mission control I was dragging the apps to the top instead of clicking the + to add more desktops first. I am so used to creating split-view screens. Thank you Gary and the Macmost community.

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