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.

Comments: 28 Responses to “How To Use Multiple Desktops On Your Mac”

    Brian Hufffman
    3 weeks ago

    I’ve been using Mac’s for years. I STILL learn something almost every time I watch one of your videos!

    Jacques Maurissen
    3 weeks ago

    You said: “If you click on an icon (?) on the Dock …” at 10:48, what do you click on?

    3 weeks ago

    Jacques: I say “If you control click on an icon in the Dock…” So any icon in the Dock.

    Riley Willcox
    3 weeks ago

    I have a iMac purchased in December 2018. It does not support multiple windows. It appears that II can not create multiple desktops

    3 weeks ago

    Riley: It definitely can. What are you trying (steps) and where is it going wrong?

    Whitehead Raymond
    3 weeks 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?

    3 weeks ago

    Whitehead: Switch to the Desktop you want to use for that app first, then choose This Desktop.

    Whitehead Raymond
    3 weeks ago

    Why does it not show the same options you show in the presentation??

    Sandra Warnken
    3 weeks 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!!

    3 weeks 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
    3 weeks ago

    10:48 in the video. I am running Catalina 10.15.5 The video shows Display 1….4

    3 weeks 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
    3 weeks 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
    3 weeks 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
    3 weeks 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?

    3 weeks 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.

    3 weeks 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.

    3 weeks 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
    3 weeks 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
    3 weeks 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
    3 weeks 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
    3 weeks ago

    When I control-click on a Dock icon, Option, I do not see any desktop assignment options.

    3 weeks ago

    coachbb94: Do you have a second desktop? The options won’t appear if you aren’t using more than one.

    IdahoGuy
    3 weeks 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.

    3 weeks ago

    IdahoGuy: Maybe you switched off or changed the default shortcut. Check in System Preferences, Keyboard, Shortcuts, Mission Control.

    IdahoGuy
    3 weeks 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 weeks 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.

    2 weeks 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.

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