2 min read

Mac OS X Lion: Welcome back Spaces

As someone who used Spaces in a 3×3 grid, I am extremely unhappy with Mission Control in Lion.

— Ken Yarmosh (@kenyarmosh) July 20, 2011

One of my biggest gripes with Mac OS X Lion was the elimination of Spaces. Specifically, I wrote about how I was a big fan of using a 3×3 Spaces layout because it allowed me to use keyboard shortcuts to quickly switch between each Space. For example, I would place my browser in Space 1, mail client in Space 4, and common work-related tasks in Space 2, which let me switch up, down, and right between my most used apps. When in Space 1, that would allow me to switch between two workspaces easily (compared to one in Lion). If I was on Space 2, however, I could switch between three workspaces just as quickly (compared to two in Lion).

Mission Control

With Lion, Apple moved into the Desktop era powered by Mission Control, where each Desktop is aligned horizontally next to the previous one (see above). This required a pretty fundamental shift in how I organized my workspaces but more so, in terms of how I’d navigate between them. Where Spaces allowed me to be keyboard-driven, with Lion I’ve become almost exclusively reliant on my Magic Mouse or Trackpad. Primarily, I now click the application I want to go to via my Dock, which brings me to the corresponding Desktop where it resides (all my applications are assigned to a Desktop). The second means is Mission Control, where I use Hot Corners via a drag to the bottom left Screen Corner and then click on the desired Desktop. Even with Mission Control keyboard shortcuts, I’ve found these two means to be the fastest way to get from Desktops that are multiple workspaces away from each other.

ReSpaceThankfully, I’m welcoming Spaces to Lion starting today due to a great new app called ReSpaceApp (thanks, Lifehacker). Currently in beta, ReSpaceApp brings Spaces back to Lion, mapping Desktops to the grid layout allowed in Spaces. In my case, I had six Desktops, so ReSpaceApp allowed me to create my 3×3 grid Space configuration again. ReSpaceApp also has a handful of preferences beyond layout, including keyboard shortcuts, transition type (if you’re daring, try something other than the traditional “Slide”), and transition speed.

To no fault of ReSpaceApp I did have to reassign all of my applications to different Desktops because of the fundamental differences between Desktops and Spaces. So, for example, my Desktop 2 mapped to Space 4, Desktop 3 mapped to Space 2, etc. There’s still some muscle memory leftover from the Spaces days but the most difficult part of using ReSpaceApp right now is that remapping and seeing a different Desktop ordering in Mission Control than I’ve been used to the last eight months or so (again, not its fault). Perhaps, in a couple of weeks, I’ll once again forget about Mission Control for switching Desktops and be back to zipping through Deskto…Spaces with my keyboard shortcuts. For that, ReSpaceApp is a welcome addition to my app arsenal.

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