First Look: Leopard preview: What's new in OS X 10.5

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What it is: With today’s Macs, which can run so many applications at once, multi-taskers often find their windows cascading endlessly into one another. Apple tackled this problem last August by introducing Spaces, its take on the decades-old technology of virtual desktops.

In Leopard, you’ll be able to create multiple, distinct desktops—at least nine—each with the applications and windows needed for a particular set of tasks. Instead of having scads of windows competing for screen space, or having to quit and launch groups of apps in order to have some semblance of onscreen order, Spaces offers the best of both worlds: all the applications you need at your fingertips without the clutter. For example, you could allocate one space to Web site work, populating it with iPhoto and iWeb; a “work” space hosting your Excel spreadsheets, a report in Word, and your e-mail client; another hosting your browser and iChat; and a fourth for fun stuff like games and DVD Player. (If you use a virtualization solution such as Parallels or VMWare to run Windows on your Intel-based Mac, you could even set up a space just for—gasp—Windows.)

As we outlined in our initial preview of Spaces, you’ll be able to get a bird’s eye view of your different workspaces by hitting a hotkey a la Exposé. You can toggle back and forth between workspaces via mouse clicks, keyboard commands, or just clicking the Dock icon of any application in a particular workspace.

What’s Changed: Apple hasn’t (publicly) changed Spaces much since that August 2006 preview. Spaces’ onscreen display is still an Exposé-like grid that allows you to easily switch between spaces; you also use this display to drag windows between spaces and rearrange the relative positions of the spaces themselves.

Space’s bird’s-eye view

Many of the questions we had about Spaces last August remain unanswered. We still want to know whether particular windows can appear in multiple spaces, how Spaces will deal with minor issues such as applications minimized to the Dock, and how Spaces will work on older Macs. Hopefully, those answers will come by October.—BRIAN CHEN & DAN FRAKES

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