There are many new features in Mac OS, but one that has really made a difference in my day to day use has been Spaces. Spaces basically creates multiple virtual monitors even if you only have one physical screen. This is extremely useful if you have a small screen (e.g. on a laptop) and want to run mutliple programs simultaneously without having to deal with minimizing windows or constantly reorganizing your workspace.
Once you turn on Spaces (in System Preferences), you can get started. I recommend starting with 4 spaces (the default) because its easy to manage. It’s also a good idea to assign a commonly used applications to a specific space. I have Mail go to space 2, Parallels go to space 3, and Keynote go to space 4. You can do whatever you want, but giving each space a specific “role” makes it easier to remember what is in each space.
Getting around in Spaces is fairly striaghtforward. Make sure you check the preference in System Preferences to have Spaces displayed in the menu bar. This menu can be used to switch from one space to another, but more importantly tells you which space you are in. By default, the F8 key will present you with a bird’s eye view of all your spaces.
This view allows you to move a window from one space to another or to switch to a different space just by clicking on it. You can also move all the windows in a space to another space by dragging the blue background. You can also trigger this view if you include the Spaces icon on your dock.
A few more tips:
- Drag a window to the edge of the screen bordering two spaces and wait – in a few seconds, you’ll have moved the window to the neighboring space.
- To move to a specific space, hold down control and press the number of the space (control-3 goes to space 3). If you do this while dragging a window, the window comes with you.
- While in the birds-eye view, hit c to collect all your windows into a single space.
Once you’ve mastered these shortcuts, you’ll appreciate how much more efficiently a small screen can be used.