Did anyone experience if using Spaces slows down the system? Is there are difference between using 4 spaces vs 9 spaces?

  • You are always going to be the slowest thing on a computer - so pick the layout that saves you time thinking about where things are and more likely to get to work by removing distractions.
    – bmike
    Jun 10 '11 at 16:42

Although there is some very tiny overhead tracking the views of 4 or 9 windows - and your graphic card may be stretched to render more than X items at once - so it feels slower and renders slower animating the in/out of the spaces.

As far as the apps and the system - each window that is running simply gets coordinates. If it's marked on screen 1 and offset X and Y or no screen and X and Y - the system does no extra work. Each window must be tracked and only windows that are somehow visible get refreshed. Spaces adds no extra work or saves any work as far as the application is concerned.

If you tend to open more apps due to spaces organizing them - that will slow the machine down - but it's not inherent that spaces makes anything on the system or app level slower other than an added graphics drain to animate the changes. When you are not switching - it's probably faster since fewer windows have to draw into active viewports if you have less "on screen" at one point in time.

  • your application windows are opened already (and rendered) no matter what space they are in.
  • if you do "show spaces" (either with "corner" or hotkey), OS X must transform each space into the "reduced" form so you can see it on-screen.
    • If you have 8 windows in 4 spaces, only 4 spaces will render
    • if you have 9 spaces, the OS will render 9 spaces (and the same 8 windows).
  • each Space eats additional memory

I'm using 9 spaces and here is my own experiences:

  • There in NO difference if you have enough memory (no swapping to HDD to render everything)
  • There IS a difference if you don't have enough available memory to avoid a swap to the HDD (perhaps too many apps are open). In this case, when you do "show spaces" there is an increase between showing 2 spaces vs 16 spaces (but nothing that is really bad or terribly noticeable)


  • spaces does not slow down your system noticeably (in the most cases), but
  • definitely eats some more memory (but a small amount), so you may get swapping a little bit sooner, and swapping is that what is really slowing down your system.

ps: these are my experiences, others may have other opinions.

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