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My impression of the general feeling toward spaces is that it's a good idea that doesn't work very well and so most people don't use it. I do use it and I can't imagine having all my windows open on one screen as being easier to navigate.

I'm interested in any better workflows people have in play.

My primary machine is a 15" MBP (no separate monitors), with a space each for mailplane, browsers, omnifocus, evernote, and two clear work spaces for whatever projects I am working on with relevant apps and windows within.

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closed as not constructive by bmike Apr 10 '13 at 1:31

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I'm glad you got an answer, but this sort of question isn't one that is objective enough to provide a useful answer to others. Until you can share more about what you've tried and what specifically you need, anyone can proffer an opinion that would be equally valid. –  bmike Apr 10 '13 at 1:30

7 Answers 7

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When I first switched to Leopard I tried out spaces, both with and without an extra monitor, but I found that I just couldn't get along with it whatever I tried.

My current solution is to have spaces switched off, with one hot corner for Expose - all windows and another for show desktop. I also use the dock icons to show all the windows for that particular application and Opt-Tab to switch between applications, using all of these I find it is always easy to get the inforamtion I need on screen when I need it.

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Really, you can't beat two physical 1080 monitors and an extra, smaller (~1024x768) one (touchscreen a plus). This works best for headless machines, or machines with an integrated 1080 display. Here are example workflows for different scenarios (Big1=1080 main, Big2=1080 extra, Small1=small extra):

Coder:
Big1: The piece of code you're actively working on. Big2: The list of related files (like in XCode), and the interface design. Small1: Where the app's windows(s) go when you test it, unless it's big. Or music controls.

Web Developer
Big1: Code. Big2: Browser preview. Small1: FTP client or ebooks or list of files or editor utility panels.

Photo Editing/Design
Big1: Editing window (Ps controls, image, etc). Big2: List of photos w/ previews. Big 3: Original image or music controls or editor panels.

Student (the one I spend the most time in)
Big1: Paper/essay on the left and outline on the right. Big2: Research websites, ebooks, works cited, etc (two open simultaneously works well). Small1: Music controls or assignment sheet/project requirements.

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Now I really wish I had a small touchscreen for music controls! –  Matt Ball Feb 8 '11 at 15:42
    
@Matt Ball mimomonitors.com –  Nathan Greenstein Feb 9 '11 at 1:28
    
Cool idea, but the company seems kind of price-gouging - e.x. they charge an extra $30 just for a Mac touchscreen driver. –  Matt Ball Feb 9 '11 at 2:35

A partial solution to overcome the lack of real screen estate: I often use cmd+tab to efficiently switch back and forth applications that I use concurrently. This doesn't require 'thinking', I rarely try to pick another app from the multitasking list other than the last used.

I usually have all apps open and full screen (MBP high-res). Then if I need another app I fall back to Exposé (mapped to a screen corner).

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Thanks brupp I'm a big user of command-tab as well –  Visitor82 Feb 18 '11 at 19:02

You need a bigger screen. Preferably, bigger screen*s*.

The other thing you might try is Divvy, which is a sort of tiling window manager thing for OS X. Sink some time into configuring it, and you'll it back hundreds of times over from time saved organizing stuff.

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I hadn't heard of divvy so thanks for the tip Audacitor but it's not exactly what I'm after because it divides up the windows on my already small screen –  Visitor82 Feb 18 '11 at 19:07

I tend to use 4-6 Spaces. It sounds like you keep one app in each Space; I tend to use each one for one task or type of work. One of my goals is to remove distractions, so I also tend to have a "dumping ground" space for windows I want to go back to later but not be distracted by now. (Articles to read later, etc.)

In OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard I had the spaces laid out in a 2x3 grid so it was easier to remember which was which than with them in a 6x1 line in OS X 10.7 Lion. For recurring tasks, I always use the same space so things are consistently in the same place.

I have keyboard shortcuts set up (in System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts) so that Ctrl+1 (or 2,3,4,5,6) takes me to a specific space.

I also run the utility Witch to switch between windows. The Cmd+Tab behavior that's built into OS X switches between applications, which isn't helpful when some apps (like the web browser) have lots of windows open. Witch lets you switch between specific windows. I set it up to only list windows in the current space, because the windows belonging to my current focus task are normally all in the same space, and it keeps the list more manageable.

It helps to customize the "assignment" (or lack thereof) of apps to specific spaces--sometimes I do assign an app to keep the windows together, but mostly I set the assignment to "None" so that I can have windows anywhere and not get whip lashed to another space when I activate that app. (In OS X 10.7 Lion, this is done by right-clicking or control-clicking or two-finger-clicking on the app in the Dock and choosing Options > This Desktop or None. For (Snow)Leopard there are some hacks for this that you'll find if you search here.

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Check out http://hiltmon.com/blog/2013/01/17/being-productive-with-virtual-desktops/ (Disclaimer: My blog) I run desktops for current work, alternate work, email, social and out-of-the-way apps and automated the switches between them.

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When I first switched to Leopard I tried out spaces, both with and without an extra monitor, but I found that I just couldn't get along with it whatever I tried.My current solution is to have spaces switched off, with one hot corner for Expose - all windows and another for show desktop. I also use the dock icons to show all the windows for that particular application and Opt-Tab to switch between applications, using all of these I find it is always easy to get the inforamtion I need on screen when I need it.A partial solution to overcome the lack of real screen estate: I often use cmd+tab to efficiently switch back and forth applications that I use concurrently. This doesn't require 'thinking', I rarely try to pick another app from the multitasking list other than the last used.I usually have all apps open and full screen (MBP high-res). Then if I need another app I fall back to Exposé (mapped to a screen corner).The other thing you might try is Divvy, which is a sort of tiling window manager thing for OS X. Sink some time into configuring it, and you'll it back hundreds of times over from time saved organizing stuff.

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