Switch Between Desktop Spaces Faster in Mac OS X with Control Keys
Switching between active Desktops/Spaces in OS X with the three fingered sideways swipe is very quick, but an even faster method is by using the Control keys.
The first option is to use the Control + Arrow keys, which is enabled by default. As you might expect, Control + Left Arrow switches to the desktop Space to the left, Control + Right Arrow goes to the right.
The fastest method utilizes Control + Number keys, and needs to be enabled separately:
- Open “System Preferences” from the menu
- Click on “Keyboard” and then select “Keyboard Shortcuts”
- From the list on the left, choose “Mission Control”
- Check the boxes next to “Switch to Desktop 1” and “Switch to Desktop 2” – this will be Desktop 3, 4, 5, etc, if you use many Desktop Spaces
- Close out System Preferences
Now you can hit Control+1 to enter Desktop 1, Control+2 to switch to Desktop 2, and so on. This is by far the fastest method to switch Desktops in OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, and whatever they call the next one.
The reason for the speed increase relates to the animation for switching windows, which is accelerated when using the Control+Arrow keys, and made even faster with the Control+Number shortcut. Alternatively, the swipe gesture generally follows your finger movements and the inertia of the swipe, which is significantly slower.
If you assigned apps to Desktops than clicking on the app will also use the faster method similar to the Control+Number keyboard shortcut.
Finally, if you want switching between active desktops to be even faster, either don’t store any icons on your Desktop or hide all icons from the Mac desktop (if you don’t want to use the Terminal command, you can also use the free DesktopUtility tool to do this from your menubar). Hiding desktop icons shows the biggest speed boost on older Macs running new versions of OS X, since it prevents the need to redraw icons when switching desktops.