Spaces, Exposé, Dashboard

If you asked Macworld’s editors which new Leopard features have pleasantly surprised them most, many (but definitely not all) would put Spaces on that list. It’s one of those features that, once you start using it, you find all sorts of handy things to do with it. (Rob Griffiths, for example, runs his Windows virtual machines in Spaces of their own.)

Here are a few of the tricks and tips we’ve learned for using Spaces—along with Exposé and Dashboard—as efficiently as possible.

Spaces & Exposé

Navigate Spaces with the Keyboard - Spaces supports numerous keyboard shortcuts. For example, to display an overview of all your spaces, press F8. In this view, you can use the arrow keys to move between spaces, press the spacebar or return to display the selected space, or simply type a space number to display it instantly (spaces are numbered sequentially from left to right, starting in the top left corner). To move directly to another space, hold down the control key and type that space’s number. To cycle from one space to the next, hold down control and press an arrow key. (You can, of course, customize these shortcut keys in the Exposé & Spaces preference pane.)—Joe Kissell

Move All Windows at Once - What if you want to move all of an application’s windows to another space? Sure, you can drag them one by one, but that’s a pain. Instead, hold down the shift or command key before you click and hold on a window. Then, still holding down that key, drag one window of a program; all that program’s other windows will follow. You can use a similar trick to move just one window to the exact same physical location in a new space. Say you’ve got a Finder window open, and it’s about 200 pixels below and 200 pixels to the right of the Apple menu. To move this window to the exact same position in another space, start dragging the window, and then press and hold the shift key before you drop the window into the new space. When you drop the window, it will move into the same position it had in the first space.—Rob Griffiths

Assign an Application to All Spaces - By default, a window will stay in the space that was active when you opened it—so an application may have one or more open windows in several spaces. If you want all of an application’s windows to appear in every space, go to the Exposé & Spaces preference pane, choose the Spaces tab, click on the plus-sign (+) button, navigate to the application, and click on Add. Then choose Every Space from the pop-up menu in the Space column next to that application’s name. The Every Space setting is appropriate for applications you use constantly, such as Stickies, iTunes (especially if you have the window minimized to the controller view), and iChat.—Joe Kissell

Assign the Finder to All Spaces - Each space has its own set of Finder windows—so if you want access to one folder in several different spaces, you’ll have to open a new Finder window in each space. If you find this annoying, you can set the Finder to be the same in all your spaces. To do this, follow the preceding instructions for assigning an application to all spaces, but navigate to the /System/Library/CoreServices folder and select Finder.—Joe Kissell

The Same Finder in Every Space: If you want the Finder (or any other program) to appear in all your spaces, choose Every Space from the Space drop-down menu in the Spaces preference pane.

Change the Space-Switch Delay - When you drag a window to the edge of your screen and hold it there for a moment, you move that window to the space next to that edge of your screen. The default delay before the window moves to the next space is 0.75 seconds. To change that delay to half a second (for example), open Terminal and enter defaults write workspaces-edge-delay -float 0.5. Press return, and then enter killall Dock. You can replace 0.5—half a second—with whatever value you wish. To return to the original value, enter the commands again with the value 0.75.—Joe Kissell

Troubleshoot Spaces with Dock Restart - If you start having problems with Spaces and don’t want to reboot your Mac, try going to Terminal and typing killall Dock. The Dock will restart and, with it, Spaces. (Alternatively, you can also restart the Dock from Activity Monitor.)—Rob Griffiths

Assign All Exposé Modes to a Single Key - By default, Exposé’s three modes—All Windows, Application Windows, and Show Desktop—are assigned to three different function keys. If you’re running short on function keys, you can assign those three modes to a single key with modifiers. Open the Exposé & Spaces preference pane and switch to the Exposé tab. Choose your first basic shortcut key; I use F3, which I assigned to Show Desktop. Then hold down a modifier key, such as option, and select the same function key from the All Windows pop-up menu; that modifier key is now part of the shortcut. Finally, hold down a different modifier key, or combination of modifier keys, and assign the same function key to Application Windows.—Dan Frakes


Widgets on the Desktop: Like Tiger, Leopard lets you move widgets from Dashboard to the desktop; thanks to Web Clip, that can be more useful than ever.
Show Widgets on the Desktop - If you want to have a widget available from the desktop, not just Dashboard, turn on Dashboard’s developer mode. (You could do this in Tiger, but thanks to Web Clip and the ability to create your own customized widgets, it’s more useful than ever in Leopard.) In Terminal, enter defaults write devmode YES, press return, and type killall Dock. That done, press F12 to fire up Dashboard. Click on any widget and begin dragging it. Without releasing the mouse button, press F12 again. The widget should move out of the Dashboard layer and onto the desktop, floating above all other windows. If you want more control over the way your widgets work outside Dashboard, use Amnesty Widget Browser or Amnesty Singles ($20 and $10, respectively).—Joe Kissell

Launch Dashboard with the Mouse - If you have a multibutton mouse and want to avoid using the keyboard just to invoke Dashboard, assign a mouse button to it instead. Let’s say you have an Apple Mighty Mouse. Go to the Key-board & Mouse preference pane and click on the Mouse tab. Then choose Dashboard from the pop-up menu corresponding to one of the buttons (I suggest either the scroll-ball button or squeezing the mouse). If you use a third-party mouse with its own software, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for configuring its extra buttons.—Joe Kissell

Resize Web Clip Widgets - If you use Safari’s new Web Clip feature to make a Dashboard widget out of a small Web item, you may be dismayed to find that Safari enforces a minimum size of about 128 by 128 pixels; you can’t make the Web Clip selection smaller than that. The solution is simple if not obvious: after creating the widget, click on the I on the widget’s face and then click on Edit. You’ll be able to resize and reframe the widget as you wish.—Rob Griffiths

To comment on this article and other Macworld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.