Spaces used to show the space number in the menu bar; I would glance at it regularly to see which space I was in (1, 2, 3, etc).
How do I get Mission Control to display the current desktop in the menu bar like that?
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Maybe the open source WhichSpace project can do this:
Have you ever forgotten which space is currently active on OS X (10.11+) and wanted a quick way to tell? Didn't think so... but I did!
I could not find any built-in feature for this, so I decided to use the backgrounds.
I found a background image that I wanted, and made 8 copies of it.
Then I wrote the numbers 1-8 on each of them, next to where the dock usually is.
Then you press ctrl+1 to make sure you're in desktop 1, right click the background, and choose the image with 1 written on it.
Then close down the system preference box (otherwise you end up changing only desktop one).
Then press ctrl+2 and do right click again.
Not allowed to post screenshot :( to show how it looks.
Found SpaceId, a solution which I prefer over WhichSpace. It has options for viewing all created spaces (not just the current one) as well as multi-monitor and full-screen support. It also fixes some visual bugs WhichSpace suffers from. Works well on MacOS 12.0.1.
This problem now has a much more robust solution, thanks to Total Spaces. This app brings back the old 2D grid of spaces and shows the space number in the menu bar.
I found this question because I had the same issue. Turns out, all I really wanted was to instantly know what screen I am on.
I just accidentally "discovered" the obvious: if you 4-finger swipe up, everything zooms out. Across the top, all your desktops are shown and your current desktop is highlighted! (4-finger swipe down to go back to normal).
So this quick & easy approach solves things for me! Besides requiring much less work, it's also better than making custom numbered background images because I often have windows that entirely block my background. Now, I just swipe up, then back down and, in a split second, I know exactly where I am.
Posting here just in case it helps someone else...