Virtual Desktops in Mac OS X
A colleague of mine is a recent Mac switcher and he was complaining to me that virtual desktops are not included in Mac OS X, the irony is that they are, they just have the name Spaces (coming from a heavy Linux background, I guess the naming convention just threw him off). Virtual Desktops are a very common and popular feature in most Unix GUI’s, and as of Mac OS X 10.5 they are included within Mac OS X too. Instead of being called “Virtual Desktops” though, Apple named them “Spaces”, but the concept is identical, multiple virtual workspaces on one machine. Spaces in Mac OS X lets you have up to 16 different workspaces to work within, you can even designate specific applications to run just within a particular space, which is very handy for creating a tidy work environment.
Configuring your virtual desktops in Mac OS X is really easy, just launch the System Preferences and click on the ‘Expose & Spaces’ icon, where you’ll see a screen with various options, including how many virtual workspaces you want to use, what applications are assigned to which spaces, and what keystrokes activate the Spaces virtual desktop switcher. (see screenshots)
Spaces is definitely a largely underused feature of Mac OS X, but power users and those familiar with the virtual desktops of Linux workstations will be very happy to know they are included in Mac OS X. If you haven’t used them yet, give it a shot, you may be surprised how helpful you find virtual desktops, or Spaces, to be.