Leopard has Spaces for work and play
Mac Tip #315/14-Nov-2007
Mac OS X 10.5, Leopard, introduces a new feature to the Mac Operating System: more space to work and play. It’s been available before now by installing separate software, but the Spaces feature, as it is called, is built in to Leopard.
This Tip is the first of several about Spaces.
Activate SpacesTo activate Spaces go to the Exposé & Spaces System Preference, then click on the Spaces tab, and check the Enable Spaces box. I also suggest you ensure Show Spaces in menu bar is checked. By default the Mac gives you 4 Spaces, but you can use more or fewer if you prefer.
Having explained how to activate Spaces, I want to explain what they are, and how to use them.
What Spaces is
Imagine you’re at home, sitting a the kitchen table, sorting through old boxes of photos (the kind that are on paper). The table is covered in photos.
After a while you decide to take a coffee break and read the paper. Instead of balancing coffee, biscuits and newspaper on top of the photos, you set yourself up at a different table.
The courier arrives with a parcel, so you take it to yet another table for unpacking.
On your computer it would look like this: you’re working with your iPhoto albums (in Space 1) when you decide to take a break and surf some news websites. You leave iPhoto running and flip over to Space 2 where you open some web pages, and check your email.
You’ve received some emailed attachments, so you download them, and flip over to Space 3 to open the MS Word file into Pages.app and the Excel file into Numbers.app.
For each activity you have a clean, fresh, uncluttered work space where you can spread out and focus on what you’re doing.
How to use Spaces
There are no rules about how to use Spaces. No-one says you have to use a particular application in Space 1 or Space 2, so it’s up to you to explore.
As I write this on my MacBook I have 4 Spaces active. I haven’t changed the default settings in System Preferences.
In Space 1: I have BBEdit — I’m using it to write this Tip. I also have the Spaces System Preference window open, so I can refer to it while I write.
In Space 2: I have my web browser, OmniWeb, open to my email.
In Space 3: I have a Finder window open — I’m busy copying some files from my other Mac.
In Space 4: I have my RSS reader, NetNewsWire, along with MarsEdit, the software I use for posting items to my blog.
The F8 overviewIf I press F8 (I’m using a laptop so I also have to hold down the fn key) my screen ‘zooms out’ and displays all 4 Spaces as thumbnails, so I can see them all at the same time. The screenshot shows thumbnails of the 6 Spaces open on my MacBook Pro screen — my screenshot software didn’t want to snap Spaces on the same machine.
At its simplest, you can drag a window from one Space to another in that overview, then click a Space to zoom back in.
In the next Tip I’ll show you some other ways to allocate a particular window to a particular Space and to navigate between Spaces.