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Creating, Using, and Managing Spaces

Being able to use Exposé to manage open windows and applications is nice, but if you use a large amount of applications and windows at the same time, getting to the windows you want to work with can still be tedious. Spaces enables you to create environments that contain specific applications so that you can easily switch between them to perform specific actions. For example, you can create an Internet space that has all your Internet applications open and a Project space that contains applications and documents related to a project you are working on. When you want to move from the project to the Internet, simply move into the Internet space and all your applications are immediately available. Getting back to your project space is just as easy.

Enabling and Building Spaces

To get started with Spaces, you need to enable the feature and build your spaces. After you create spaces, you assign applications to those spaces. Only applications that are bound to a space are available to you when you access that space. To enable Spaces and create spaces, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the Spaces tab of the Exposé & Spaces pane of the System Preferences application (see Figure 12.4).
    Figure 12.4

    Figure 12.4 Use the Spaces tab to create and configure spaces on your Mac.

  2. Check the Enable Spaces check box. If you want to have the Spaces menu appear in the menu bar, check that check box, as well.
  3. At the top of the pane, you see the preview window that shows a thumbnail of each space you have configured; initially there are two spaces in the same row. As you create spaces, you'll add them by row or by column. Below the preview window is the Application Assignments section; here, you see the applications are part of the selected space. At the bottom of the pane are the controls you use to set keyboard shortcuts for specific actions.
  4. Use the keyboard pop-up menu to set the keyboard shortcut to activate Spaces.
  5. If you have a multi-button mouse, use the mouse pop-up menu to set the mouse control to activate Spaces.
  6. Add applications that you want to be part of the spaces you are creating. There are several ways to do this:
    • Drag an application's icon from the desktop and drop it on the space where you want it contained; when the icon is over a space, the space's thumbnail is highlighted to show you that you can drop it on the space.
    • Drag an application's icon from the desktop and drop it on the application list. Then, choose the space where you want the application to be used on the pop-up menu in the Space column (more on that in a bit).
    • Click Add Application and use the resulting sheet to move to and select the application you want to add. Then use the pop-up menu in the Space column to choose the space where you want that application to appear.
  7. Add spaces by clicking the Add button in the Row section to add a new row of spaces or the Add button in the Column section to add a new column of spaces.
  8. Add spaces until you've added all that you want to have available.
  9. To remove spaces, you must remove an entire row or column by clicking the Remove button in the Row or Column section.
  10. Use the pop-up menu in the Space column to assign an application to a space (see Figure 12.5). The choices on the menu are each space you've created and Every Space which makes the application available in all spaces. When you select an application, the spaces to which it is assigned are highlighted in the preview window.
    Figure 12.5

    Figure 12.5 Assign applications to spaces to make them available when you choose a space.

  11. To remove an application from the list, select it and click Remove.
  12. Use the "To switch between spaces" pop-up menu to choose the keyboard shortcut to move among the spaces you have created.
  13. Use the "To switch directly to a space" pop menu to choose the keyboard shortcut you can use to jump directly into a space.

Using and Managing Spaces

After you've created spaces, you can use them to more efficiently manage your desktop. Here are some space pointers:

  • Press the keyboard shortcut you set for switching between spaces (the default is Ctrl-Arrow key). The Spaces manager appears on the screen (see Figure 12.6). The manager has a box representing each of the spaces you've created. To jump to a space, keep pressing the shortcut keys until the space you want to use is highlighted. When you release the keys, you jump into that space and return to the last application you were using in that space.
    Figure 12.6

    Figure 12.6 When you activate Spaces, you see the Spaces manager that indicates how many spaces are available to you.

  • Press the keyboard shortcut for jumping directly to a space (the default is Ctrl-number key) to move directly into a space. When you do, the Space manager will appear briefly, you move into the space you selected, and applications in that space are available to you.
  • When you are in a space, you can open applications that aren't part of that space, just as you can when you aren't using Spaces. That application will be available in the current space, but not in any others. If you open an application that is already assigned to a different space, you jump to the space that it has been assigned to.
  • The Finder is available in all spaces.
  • If an application isn't running when you move into the space that it has been assigned to, you need to launch it to be able to use it.
  • Spaces retain window configurations. If you use multiple monitors and have windows on each display in a space, they will resume their former positions as soon as you move back into that space.
  • You can use the Dock to move into open or closed applications. If you open an application in a space, you move into that space. If the application is not part of a space, it opens as usual, but is available only when you are using the space you were using when you opened it. In other words, it is temporarily bound to the space you were using when you launched it.
  • If you assign an application to all spaces, its windows will always appear in the same positions in all spaces.
  • If you press the Spaces keyboard shortcut (the default is F8), you see large thumbnails of all your spaces (see Figure 12.7). In each space, you see smaller thumbnails of all the applications running in that space. If you use multiple displays, you see a thumbnail for each display. Click a space to move into it.
    Figure 12.7

    Figure 12.7 Pressing the Spaces keyboard shortcut shows you all your spaces.

  • To turn Spaces off, open the Spaces tab of the Exposé & Spaces pane of the System Preferences application and uncheck the Enable Spaces check box. All open applications will return to the desktop. You can start using your spaces again by checking the Enable Spaces check box.
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