6/18/209:00 am How To Use Multiple Desktops On Your Mac You can use Mission Control on your Mac to give yourself multiple virtual desktops. Each desktop can display different app windows to make it seem like you have more than one screen. Other desktops can contain full screen or split view windows. Check out How To Use Multiple Desktops On Your Mac at YouTube for closed captioning and more options. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Today let's talk about using multiple desktops on your Mac. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 700 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you could read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. So one of the most powerful features of your Mac is the ability to have multiple desktops. But a lot of Mac users don't know about this feature and they could really use it. It's particularly useful if you only have one screen like most MacBook or iMac users do. You can use this to simulate having multiple displays and it could really help you clean up your workspace and be more efficient. So take a look at what I've got here. I have all these different windows open on this screen. But what I can do is get rid of this mess by using multiple desktops. Now this feature is sometimes called Mission Control. Sometimes it's called Spaces. Other people call it Multiple Desktops or using many desktops. It doesn't matter what you call it. The way to see your desktops is to use the keyboard shortcut Control up arrow. This brings you into a mode called Mission Control. Mission Control gives you an overview of all your desktops. You can see at the top there I have one desktop. Desktop 1. If I move my cursor over it it will actually show me a small representation of the desktop. Below I'll see all the windows in the desktop but kind of moved around so I can see them all clearly so they're not overlapping each other. To add a second desktop all I need to do is click the Plus button here and it adds Desktop 2. You can see that's empty. I can switch between them by simply clicking on them. So I can use Control up arrow to get here and then click on Desktop 2. Now I'm at Desktop 2. Control up arrow takes me back here and I can click on Desktop 1 to go back to Desktop 1. But a much easier way to do it is to use Control and right or left to quickly fly between these multiple desktops. On a Trackpad the default shortcut is to use three fingers on your trackpad and swipe with three fingers left or right to move between them. But you have to look in System Preferences to make sure you have that enabled. So that's under Trackpad and then More Gestures and you can see here Swipe between full-screen apps. What this really means is any kind of desktop. You also have Mission Control, Swipe up with three fingers. Instead of use Control up arrow I could simple do a three-finger up swipe to get to the same place. Now I could add a third desktop if I want and then I can use Control right arrow to go to the second one, right arrow to go to the third one and then left arrow to go back to the other two. Now to move something to another desktop I can do the one of several ways. I could actually click and drag this window. While I'm still dragging I could use Control and right arrow to move to another desktop and drop it there. It's kind of hard to do. To hold the trackpad and hit two buttons on the opposite sides of the keyboard. So a better way to do it is to go into Mission Control and from there you can move your cursor up to the top here to reveal all of these desktops. You could drag from the bottom here onto another desktop. So I could put this Safari window here on desktop 3. So now I've got desktop 3 with this Safari window on it. I can Control left arrow to desktop 2 with this Maps window on it and then Control left arrow back to my first desktop with all of these windows on it. I could use Mission Control to easily move things around. So while in here I can still use Control left arrow and right arrow to go between desktops. Then I could drag any window I see below here to any of these desktops to move it there. So you can see how this kind of simulates having three displays. Here's my first display. Here's my second display. Here's my third display. It's like I've got three screens even though I just only have one MacBook sitting on my lap or one iMac sitting on my desk. I can only see one at a time so it's not as good as having three displays. But it does help me clean up my workspaces. Note that you can have multiple windows from the same app on different workspaces. So here's a Finder window and here's a Finder window. I can take this one and move it to another desktop here. So I'll put that on Desktop 2. So desktop 2 might now have this Maps window open here and a Finder window open with files that relate to the task I'm doing here. On this desktop I've got a separate Finder window open for doing other things. So you can group the windows by what task you're doing. Maybe one is for writing, ones for doing research, another's for email. Now you can also easily rearrange these in Mission Control. So, for instance, if I wanted to swap these desktops I could just click and drag them there. Notice the names don't stick with the desktop. Desktop 1, Desktop 2, Desktop 3 it is about the order they are in. If I switched 3 with 2 they just get renamed so they are still 1, 2, and 3. There are actually three different types of things that you could have here in Mission Control. We've only looked at one of them which is a full desktop. A second one is an actual full-screen app. So let's go and create another Safari window here. I'll click on Safari and you notice it jumps right to that desktop with Safari on it. I'll open up a new Safari window and let's say let's go to MacMost on this window. Now I can go full-screen with this app by clicking the green button here or going to View, and then Enter Full-screen. Either one will take that app full-screen. The Menu Bar is hidden. I can get to it by moving my cursor to the top. The Dock is hidden but I can get to it by moving my cursor to the bottom. But otherwise this window takes up the entire screen. I can't change the window size. It goes from edge to edge. Now if I go into Mission Control you can see now I've got my Desktop 1, Desktop 2, Desktop 3 and there's that full-screen app. It goes in the list as well. That's the second type of thing that can be here. A third type of thing is anytime you use Split View which is like full-screen but with two apps instead of one. So let's say I've got Photos open here and the Finder here and I want to put these both in a split view desktop. I can hover over the green button here and then I have the ability to Tile Window to the Left of Screen or to the Right of Screen. So let's move this Finder window to the right side of the screen. Then it has me select another window that was on the desktop for the left side. Now I've got Split View. If I go to Control Up Arrow for Mission Control you can see I've got Desktop 1, 2, and 3. I've got that full-screen Safari here and I've got this Split View with Photos and Finder. I can drag the middle line here depending upon which apps I'm using. In this case the Finder can get pretty small on the right but the Photos can only go to about halfway. But now I've got this one desktop that is using two apps kind of sharing the screen. You can use Mission Control to Exit this. As a matter of fact Mission Control is a really handy way to have both of these apps leave their split screen view. Otherwise if I just hit the green button on one, the other one gets stuck in full-screen mode. But here I can click here and now it puts these both back on the original desktop they were on. I can get rid of any of these by using Mission Control and clicking on the X here. I can, say, get rid of Desktop 3 and you can see that goes away. I can exit Safari's full-screen mode by here and that goes away as well. So there are a lot of different ways to use these. Some people like just to have apps in Full-Screen mode. So they'll have everything full screen mode. Then they'll be able to use Control left arrow or right arrow to go between full-screen windows for each app. It's actually no problem if you want to drag and drop because you can click to drag something like this link here and if you just go to another desktop using Control right arrow I can still drop it there even though you've got apps in full-screen mode. Other people like to use multiple desktops to separate their work spaces. So maybe you've got, you know, your Safari window open here and with Photos because you're working on those two apps in this one. Then maybe create another one where you're doing a writing project and you have a Safari window open for research for that. Some people will have five, ten, fifteen different desktops open. Each one for a different project they're working on. So how you use this is really up to you. There's so many different options. You can ask ten different people how they use this and you'll find ten different ways of using it. There are a lot of options you should know about. You go to System Preferences and then Mission Control. First notice you've go the keyboard shortcut for Mission Control here and you can set it to something else if you want. We're going to look at more keyboard shortcuts in a minute. Then you've got these checkboxes. You've got Automatically rearrange Spaces based on Most recent use. A lot of people are really frustrated by this. They don't realize it's an option so they have it turned on and they complain that their desktops and full-screen apps are always switching which position they are in. A lot of times we keep the order in mind mentally and use Control and left and right arrow to switch between them. But having this turned on will really mess that up. There's also the checkbox for When switching to an application, switch to that Space. So, I've got the Maps app here for instance. If I go to this desktop the Maps app isn't there. If I use Command Tab and go to Maps it's going to jump me to that space there. What if I wanted to open up another Maps window. So what I can do here is I can turn that Off. Now I can go over here. I can switch to the Maps app and you can notice it doesn't take me to that space. I am running Maps now and I can go and create a new window in this desktop. Group windows by application simply means that when you go to Mission Control, Control Up Arrow, notice how the two Finder windows are together here. Well, if you have that turned Off and you do Control Up Arrow now they are apart. So it's only a tiny difference. Finally we've got a big one here if you've got multiple displays. With this checked every display has its own set spaces. So you could have two screens and go to one screen and then swap around and have multiple desktops and things on that one screen leaving your first screen with the same desktop. If you turn this Off then both of your screens will act as one big desktop and switching from one desktop to another switches both screens. Now this is such a big massive change that if you were to change it here you can see it says Requires Logout. Unchecking or checking this means you have to logout and log back in to see that difference. For keyboard shortcuts go into System Preferences, Keyboard, and then go to Shortcuts. There's an entire section here for Mission Control. So you can find the main Mission Control shortcut there. But also you could find the Move Left and Move Right shortcuts and keyboard shortcuts for the first five desktops you create. Also back in Mission Control here you can click on Hot Corners and you can assign a Hot Corner to Mission Control. So this means when I move my cursor up to that corner it activates Mission Control. Just like hitting Control Up Arrow does. Now there's one more big control we haven't seen anywhere here because it appears in the Dock of all places. If you Control click on an icon in the Dock and go to Options you'll see Assigned To. Then you can set it to All Desktops, a Specific Desktop, or None. Now in this case I have three displays so it also has an option for each one of those displays. So let's ignore that for now. If I were to set this app, in this case Maps, to All Desktops what I get is something interesting. This window here for Maps, if I go to the second desktop it's there in the same place. The window appears everywhere. So I can move it over here to the right. Go back to this desktop and you can see it's moved over to the right. I can resize it and move to this desktop and you can see it basically exists across all desktops. Of if you go and assign it to a Specific Desktop what will happen is it stays on that desktop even if you, say, Quit that app, go to another desktop, and let's launch this app again. It's going to go back to that first desktop. It's going to make this app stick on that desktop. Even if I go here and I try to switch to that app no matter what my System Preference is, it's going to switch to that desktop when I create a new window. You can see it's going to force all new Maps windows into that desktop. I can still go and move this window to another desktop afterwards. So now you can see I've got them both there. But if I create a new window it's always going to do it on the desktop that I've specified here in the Dock. So that's a look at using multiple desktops on your Mac. If you notice there were a ton of different options and a ton of different ways to use this. There is no one right way. You can decide not to use this at all. You can decide to have all your applications in full-screen mode. You can decide to have a ton of desktops with different windows or split views or anything you want to do or any combination thereof. It's a tool that's built for you to use as you want. The only thing I would say is if you're not using multiple desktops now you should maybe give it a try. If you don't like it just stop using it. But you may find that it can improve your productivity once you get used to it.Related Subjects: Mission Control (9 videos) Related Video Tutorials: No related posts. Comments: 32 Responses to “How To Use Multiple Desktops On Your Mac” Brian Hufffman 2 years ago I've been using Mac's for years. I STILL learn something almost every time I watch one of your videos! Jacques Maurissen 2 years ago You said: "If you click on an icon (?) on the Dock ..." at 10:48, what do you click on? Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Jacques: I say "If you control click on an icon in the Dock..." So any icon in the Dock. Riley Willcox 2 years ago I have a iMac purchased in December 2018. It does not support multiple windows. It appears that II can not create multiple desktops Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Riley: It definitely can. What are you trying (steps) and where is it going wrong? Whitehead Raymond 2 years ago Gary, as usual a great presentation. When I control click on a Dock icon, under options I only get All desktops This desktop or None. what am I doing wrong? Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Whitehead: Switch to the Desktop you want to use for that app first, then choose This Desktop. Whitehead Raymond 2 years ago Why does it not show the same options you show in the presentation?? Sandra Warnken 2 years ago Terrific - I am so glad to see how this works. On a few occasions my laptop automatically has gone to another screen when in full screen mode. I could not exit with esc. I discovered that clicking on one of the apps that's open on the original brought me back to the original screen. I see how to have the screens with the 3 finger swipe. Thank you so much!! Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Whitehead: Which options? What is the time in the video you are talking about? Also, which version of macOS are you using? Raymond Whitehead 2 years ago 10:48 in the video. I am running Catalina 10.15.5 The video shows Display 1....4 Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Raymond: It shows 1, 2 and 3 because I have 3 displays (I say that right at that point in the video). If you only have one display it will just show 1, not 3 of them. Chris Mundy 2 years ago Hi Gary, Great video, I've been using multiple desktops since SCO Xenix days, (showing my age). Q. I have a use case where I want to perform functions of work in a particular desktop e.g. Monday Morning: Open Numbers > open spreadsheet, then Open Browser > Navigate to bank account > log into account > copy balances to Numbers. Obviously some of this is manual copying, however, how much could you automate opening of files and apps in a specific desktop? Ian Waddington 2 years ago Gary, great video, thank you. It would be great to have this shown in the context of multiple screens and multiple desktops. I have a 27" Monitor on my 27" iMac and get so confused how things work between them, especially when using the command-tab app switcher, it often feels a little random as to which screen the app switches too, even though the iMac is the primary monitor. Thank you for your help. Terry Converse 2 years ago Hi Gary; love your Macmost videos. When I try to create another desktop by clicking the + button, I get an exact duplicate of all the folders that were on the original desktop, In your example, the new desktop is empty, and this would be far more useful. What am I doing wrong? Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Chris: That's all going to be difficult to automate. I'd really think about how long it takes you vs how long it will take you to learn the coding and tools you need (not sure of your current level) and work on a solution. Even then it will only be semi-automatic and need regular updates as things change. Probably not worth it. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Ian: For multiple screens you really need to pay attention to the settings I show in the video in System Preferences. There is a logic to it, but you've got to understand that based on your settings there. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Terry: The files and folders on the Desktop are what his in your Desktop folder in the file system. You'll see those on all of your desktops. That's separate from the app windows that I am mostly discussing here. If you want the Desktop to not have those, then move them all into your Documents folder and keep your Desktop clean and empty like I do. Dirk Lenz 2 years ago Hi Gary, I just want to add that you can move windows between multiple desktops by dragging them to the left or right screen edges. Karen Brown 2 years ago Something you didn't mention + a tip: You can also switch between desktops by swiping with 2 fingers on the Magic Mouse. And...I use 6 desktops to which I have assigned certain apps. I can distinguish between those desktops easily because I have assigned different background picture to each one. Jon 2 years ago Good info, Gary; I have an 2017 iMac with 4.2 GHz, quad-core i7, 40 GB of RAM and an 8 GB video card. I have 16 desktops that are all used. Ctl + [1-0] will move focus to one of 10 desktops numbered 1 to 0. Ctl + Opt + [1-6] will move focus to one one of 6 desktops numbered 11 to 16. Don't know why the difference in available desktops. Never bothered to check. I have looked to see if there is a hidden command to add more desktops, but, alas . . . Thought your viewers might like to have this coachbb94 2 years ago When I control-click on a Dock icon, Option, I do not see any desktop assignment options. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago coachbb94: Do you have a second desktop? The options won't appear if you aren't using more than one. IdahoGuy 2 years ago I really like the idea of using mission control. However, using Control-up arrow does NOT activate mission control. I have to click on the icon in the dock. I think I'm missing a setting somewhere. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Note: I'm using an Apple bluetooth keyboard. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago IdahoGuy: Maybe you switched off or changed the default shortcut. Check in System Preferences, Keyboard, Shortcuts, Mission Control. IdahoGuy 2 years ago Thanks Gary. I didn't think to look there. Yes, they were changed. Don't remember changing them (comes with old age). Restored the defaults and works great. :) nick 2 years ago Gary, just wanted to mention that creating a desktop for each app I have open in a maximized window, it names each desktop based on that app. ex Safari, Mail etc. Then when you move the desktops around the name stays with the desktop, as opposed to having Desktop 1, 2 etc. Thought some folks might wanna try that configuration. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Nick: Yes. Those are called "Full Screen Apps" as opposed to Desktops though. You don't really have a desktop there as the app is everything. Mary Sue Barron Findlater 2 years ago I just got a new macbook air and I use google chrome as my browser. On my pervious macbooks, I used desktops to be signed in to one google account and then another google account for work in a new window. I would keep them separate by desktops. For some reason, now when I drag my other google chrome window to a new desktop, it mirrors across all desktops and it's letting me place one window in one desktop and one in another. Any tips? is there a new place to configure this and I'm missing it? Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Mary: Mac Desktops don't do anything special with Chrome and Google accounts. These are just separate windows whether or not they are windows on the same Desktop or you are using them on different Desktops or they are full-screen windows. Not sure what you mean by "mirrors" -- you see the exact some thing in each Chrome window? Either way, it is a Chrome issue, or maybe a Google account issue and nothing to do with Desktops. Maybe Google changed how you can log into multiple accounts at the same time? Robin McCormick 1 year ago Is there a way to save my mulitple desktop layouts? I love using it, but when I restart my computer, I have to set them all back up again. Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago Robin: No. But, first, you shouldn't need to restart your Mac on a regular basis. Second, if you have your System Preferences set to not close windows when you quit an app, then it should relaunch those windows when you restart, and things should return to how they were, more or less. Comments Closed.