in Opinion, OS X

Living in Space(s)

Have you ever seen those fancy photos of people who are sitting in their desks with dual (some with 3 and 4) monitors? I always look at these images and say to myself, “this is cool. I wish I could afford to do this”. However, as cool as it looks, I’m not interested in spending money on high-end digital LCD screens.
Behold Spaces

Apple introduced Spaces when it launched OS X Leopard (10.5). The idea is to help the user reduce clutter on your desktop by allowing you to group your applications to the way you work. Though Spaces doesn’t provide the same functionality to a dual LCD screen setup, it comes increasingly close.

How I Use Spaces

I recently bought a 27 inch Dell high-end LCD screen. The desktop looks gorgeous on it! Once I plugged into my Mac Mini, I restructured the way I manage my windows and apps so I can easily switch between them. Thanks to the iPad (my mobile computer), my brain has already been trained to think of one app at a time. So this is how I use Spaces:


I like to have my email open at all times. I don’t check it all the time (I have a workflow for mail), but I like to always have it accessible. When I check my emails, all I have to do is swipe to my right and my email is there in all its full-screen glory. I finish working on email and a swipe to my left brings me back to my main desktop.


My productivity brain relies heavily on my task application. For me, there is no better app at GTD and organization than Things. I always have Things running on my Mac 24 hrs a day. Always on the main desktop, this is the brains of my productivity. I need it to be on my face so that I always focus on getting my work done and not waste time being distracted by the internet.


Tweetbot is the only application running on my left desktop (one swipe from main desktop). Even though it runs often, I dont’ necesserily pay much attention to it. Especially during my “beast” productivity moments. But when I have a little down time, or need to reach out to someone, I can go there with a quick swipe.

Other Apps

Sometimes I’m working on my blog or editing images in Pixelmator so I usually have a space for these apps to run to my right. They don’t run all the time like my most important apps, but they do get their own space when needed.

I try not to have more than 3 spaces in use at all times. I think when you go beyond that, you start multitasking and getting distracted and this is bad for productivity. For me, my main desktop is where I get things done and the spaces to my left and right are my other spaces that need my attention from time to time.

This approach has worked very well for me in the last 2 months and I highly recommend it. It works beautifully on a high end big screen.

How do you manage your desktop? Do you use Spaces? Share with us how you are productive.

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Leave a Reply

  1. Hey Moe,
    I have used this in full screen mode more than actually creating the dedicated spaces. That said, I still would prefer to run with 3 monitors. The primary reason for the extra monitors is when am writing code. Life is so much easier when your code can be on 1 screen, your applications under development on another, and then the third screen for everything else. What would be cool is if that third screen could be setup with multiple spaces.

    Outside of development, using spaces is really I need.

    Good stuff!

    • I get you and I don’t deny that multiple screens is elegant and a head-movement away. However, spaces has the same effect, except it’s just one swipe away. I think the benefit of Spaces is on focus. If you are coding, fill that screen with the window you are coding in and let your brain melt in it. If you have another app open in another screen, it can cause distraction.
      Multitasking is a myth. Our brains were never trained to do more than one thing at a time. The moment we do we are not fully focuse. <—- see, I was chewing gum here. 🙂