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Why Everyone Should Use Spaces On Mac

5 minutes to read.

I’m a fairly recent graduate and work at a marketing agency.

Most people in these environments use Macs and need to have a lot of windows open at the same time.

And often when I see other peoples computers I notice they have everything in a single “space” and are dragging windows around spending time trying to find the one they need.

Maybe they just don’t know about multiple spaces or maybe they don’t see the advantage, but this post is going to try and help both of those people to be more productive.

What Are Spaces

Spaces on Mac – and most builds of Linux – is a way to basically set up multiple virtual desktop environments.

You can set up each desktop for a different mindset to best optimize your productivity and not have to keep moving stacked apps around to find what you need.

To get to this on Mac you just do a 4 finger swipe up or hit the “Spaces” symbol on your keyboard. (Located on the F3 key.)

Imagine you are at school/work. 

You are listening to music on Spotify, building a spreadsheet, researching data in Chrome for the spreadsheet, and keeping an eye on email and iMessage all at the same time.

The way not to do this would be to have these apps all in one place stacked on top of each other.

If these 5 apps were a physical pieces of paper, it would be like they were bound together like a book that magical put all of the pages in a random order every time you switched between them.

That would make these apps vey difficult to quickly switch back and forth between.

To fix that you would rip the pages out, right? This way you can spread them across the table and easily switch to the pages you need without shuffling through all the rest of them.

This is the problem Spaces tries to solve. You don’t have to shuffle through all your windows to find the one you need. You just do a four finger swipe up to see all the desktops spread out and pick the one you need.

And as you use it, you will start putting spaces in the same place every time. And instead of swiping up and having to select the desktop you want, you can swipe left and right because you know where everything is.


So how do you start organizing and using these windows efficiently?

Well you’ll have to figure out what works best for you. But I’ll explain how I use them to hopefully get you started.

How I Use Multiple Spaces

First, the kinds of things I do on my laptop:

  • Work for marketing agency
  • Development and other side project work for New Hobby Box
  • Writing for this blog
  • Casual web browsing
  • Email, iMessage, Spotify, etc.

Now let’s go through my spaces from left to right and I’ll explain why things are the way they are.

This is the default state of my laptop.

This is what it looks like every time I leave it. This way every time I need it, it’s ready to do whatever thing I need.


Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 1.01.37 PM

Desktop 1 – Communication

  • iMessage
  • Twitter
  • Slack
  • Clear

I keep all of my communication apps all together. This way, when I need to send anyone a message I know exactly where to go.

eMail is not here because that’s a whole different beast I like to keep separated.

I also have Clear on this desktop, which isn’t a communication app, but it’s a small simple app that I don’t need in my main windows. So this is kind of the only place to put it.


Alternote is an Evernote app that looks the way Evernote should.

I use Evernote to keep track of everything: work, side projects, personal notes.

It’s basically the off site backup for my brain.


Email is next. I’ve tried all kinds of other mail apps and none of them do everything I want.

While the default mail app is ugly and doesn’t have some of the extra productivity features I want, it has all of the basic functionality down.

I’ve tried Mailbox Beta (now being discontinued starting in February) and Sparrow and just kept running into missing basic features.

If you have a suggestion for a great mail app though let me know in the comments!

Desktop 2 – Browser

My default, every day, browser is Safari.

It’s the most lightweight of the 3 and is the quickest for switching between devices.

I also use Chrome and Firefox, but those are set up differently from my every day browsing of reddit like Safari is used for. Those are set up for web development and side project stuff.

Since this is my default setup I only have the one browser open, but when I have Chrome or Firefox open, they get their own desktops as well.

Desktop 3 – Blank Desktop/ Finder windows

I have everything organized in Finder. (See how I organize Finder here)

So this is the blank Space (baby) that allows me to manage my desktop and search through my file structure.


Then finally Spotify gets it’s own space because you really have to use it full screen to navigate through it. So I always have this all the way to the right for when I want to pick a new playlist.

In the screen shot attached however, you might notice a mini player app. I have that showing up on every desktop and use that to see what’s playing and control my music on a smaller level.

Quick tip: To have an app display on every desktop go to dock > Right click the apps icon > Options > Assign to > All desktop


The main idea is to split each Space into a type of work. That way when you have to do that type of work, you know right where to go rather than having to minimize and move a stack or windows all in the same Space.


Do you use Spaces?

If so, do you agree or disagree with anything I have here?

If not, are you going to start to?


Thank you for reading,


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