Desktop "Spaces" in Mission Control

Mission Control 103 Did you know that there’s more than one desktop on your Mac? Yep, it’s true, you can pretty much have as many desktops as you want, each filled with its own assortment of open documents and applications.

Most of us are used to having a single desktop on our systems—you know, the one that’s directly in front of us. The idea of have more, “virtual” desktop spaces with open windows that you can’t see can take a little getting used to. Once you get the hang of it, these additional desktop spaces—which you manage in Mac OS X with a new feature, dubbed “Mission Control”—can become addicting, even essential. Let’s take a quick tour of the desktop spaces in “Mission Control”—and keep in mind that older versions of the Mac operating system also have the “spaces” feature, which you can manage in the System Preferences panel under the Apple menu.

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1. First, activate Mission Control by clicking its icon in the Mac OS “Dock,” or swiping up with three fingertips on your MacBook trackpad. You can also turn Mission Control on by hitting the F3 key on your keyboard.


2. Now, you’ll see an overhead view of all your open applications, windows, and spaces. On your desktop, you may have five applications open—Mail, iPhoto, iCal, iTunes, and Safari, not to mention a total of three Safari open windows at once. Things may start to get a little crowded.

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3. Time to spread out a little bit. Activate Mission Control again, click and hold the app window you want to move to a different “desktop”, and then drag it up and over to the upper-right corner of the screen—where all of a sudden, a new “space” with a big “+” sign appears.

4. Drop the app into your new space, and presto! Now you have another desktop with just the one application open. To visit your new space, just activate Mission Control and click the Desktop icon, which immediately zooms in and fills your screen.

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5. Now go ahead repeat with more open applications. To switch between your desktops, open Mission Control and click the desktop space you want to jump to. You can also scroll though them one-by-one with a sideways three-finger swipe on your trackpad, or by tapping a left or right arrow key on the keyboard while holding down the Control key.

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6. Want to clean up your spaces? Activate Mission Control, then hold your mouse over the space you want to close until a circle with an “x” appears on its corner. Click the “x,” and the space will disappear, with any open windows safely sliding over to one of your remaining spaces (so don’t worry, you won’t lose any work).

Give it a try!