216

I would like to give names to different Mission Control Spaces; currently a new Space gets the default name Desktop n where n is a number.

Desktop 1 | Desktop 2 | Desktop 3

Desktop 1 | Desktop 2 | Desktop 3

How can I give each space a custom meaningful name?

6
  • 5
    afaik, it couldn't be done in Lion & that still hasn't changed - apple.stackexchange.com/questions/18029/…
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 6:54
  • 19
    A great pity it still can't be done on stock Big Sur. I think this is my most wanted feature for native macOS.
    – Oion Akif
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 22:33
  • 16
    yeah, such i simple and productive feature, not yet implemented
    – logoff
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 14:11
  • 2
    The question gets asked often enough in the Apple Discussion Forums (google.com/…), although Apple doesn't generally respond there.
    – Thogek
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 20:19
  • 5
    It looks's like this plugin for hammerspoon is a solution: github.com/ekalinin/SpaceName (works for me on 12.7, works on M1)
    – shorrty
    Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 20:17

18 Answers 18

74

Nope, there is no way to natively do that. But you can put an application into fullscreen and the Desktop will take the application's name.

Else way, there is some third party applications who will help you do to so (not all of them may run natively on ARM yet):


Spaces Renamer

Spaces Renamer is a combination of an application and SIMBL plugin to allow you to rename your spaces.

enter image description here


Total Spaces

The commercial app TotalSpaces by binaryage allows you to name Spaces.

enter image description here


You may need to partially disable SIP in order to use TotalSpaces or Spaces Renamer, see:

You should probably read this before to disable it: https://eclecticlight.co/2019/06/19/what-is-sip-and-when-is-it-safe-to-turn-it-off/



Related posts:

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    Just a heads up, Total Spaces might no longer be in development. It doesn't work on my macOS 13.2.1 Ventura (and yes, disabled SIP). Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 7:12
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    Unfortunately Spaces Renamer also doesn't seem to work (again, macOS 13.2.1 Ventura), despite having followed all the instructions. Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 7:25
79

I am using the built-in Stickies app. I've created a sticky for each space on the top left corner. Just set the sticky window to Floating which keeps it on top of every other window.

enter image description here

This way you get a nice label for each Space which is visible while you are working.

enter image description here

To see all your Spaces just select the Stickies app, click Control + and you see the stickies in a row which represent your Spaces and also clickable:

enter image description here

Plus desktop can be selected from a list as asgardian07's answer shows.

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    This is pretty sweet workaround. I have a question which is is there a way to switch between the stickies attached to different spaces without ever using mouse clicks? aka purely keyboard only
    – Kim Stacks
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 6:42
  • 2
    If you wanna use purely the keyboard hit Command + Tab to select the stickies app, then hit Control + Down to view the stickies on the Mission Control then use left/right arrows to navigate between them and hit Enter to select a sticky.
    – gazdagergo
    Commented Jan 8, 2022 at 15:11
  • 2
    This will need to be recreated if you reboot, right?
    – jcollum
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 21:29
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    I tried this a while ago, before reading the suggestion here. Unfortunately, on reboot all the stickies collect on Desktop 1. For a while I devoted an entire desktop to a key that I could see in Mission Control / Command Center that was simply a horizontal list of the hotkeys for each desktop, which were also the first letters of the names on each Sticky, so that it was easier to quickly redistribute all the Stickies after each reboot. This added complexity when I wanted to reorder the desktops so that those in active use on a project were next to each other - I had to reorder that list too.
    – August
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 22:36
  • 2
    wow! that is genius! NO CODE SOLUTION. What a smack for all of us engineers :D
    – fabmilo
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 2:28
60

This is something that I wanted for ages, so I finally got around and built an open source solution!

It behaves similarly to TotalSpaces in that it uses SIMBL to hook into the display functionality, and uses an application with a top menu bar button to rename the desktops. To install it, just head over to my GitHub and follow the installation instructions!

Screenshots: Edited Names

Name-changing UI

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    This still requires you to turn off SIP, right?
    – Jason
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 7:00
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    What parts of SIP are disabled when you partially re-enable it? What security risks come with using Spaces Renamer if you re-enabled SIP after installation?
    – Oion Akif
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 22:31
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    It appears this approach does not support M1 Macs Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 16:17
  • 1
    @WilliamEntriken correct, the MacForge application that this is an add-on for hasn't been updated. Once that's updated, this should follow shortly.
    – Alex Beals
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 19:21
  • 1
    Hey Alex, I'm not on M1 but upgraded to Monterey. It seems not to be working on that. Do you have plans to update it for compatibility?
    – stumped
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 22:27
50

A very low technology but quite direct solution is to assign keystrokes to each desktop

  • Preferences -> keyboard -> shortcuts -> Mission Control : has built-in options allowing you to assign ^1 to Desktop 1 and so on
  • Then write your desired Desktop Names on a small stickie note (a physical one!) and stick it near the number keys. All your Desktop names are constantly in view, and each is just a single keystroke away...

With this approach, you'll also want to keep your Desktops in fixed order:

  • In Mission Control settings, turn off the 1st checkbox for "Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use." (BigSur v11.1)
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    Clever! I don't know if you're serious or not, but I'm giving this an upvote because it seems like some people would actually find it useful. Nice hack! Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 18:16
  • Unless I am mis-understanding something, this doesn't work well because which desktop such a keystroke actually brings to view changes when the system changes the order (and number) of the desktops according to recent use.
    – mwal
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 10:19
  • 13
    @mwal you can change it so that the order is preserved. In Mission Control, turn off the 1st checkbox for "Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use." (BigSur v11.1)
    – Damon
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 15:22
42

Add a sticky to each desktop, with the desktop label. Then you can right-click on the app icon and switch between desktops!

stickies switcher

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    what is a "sticky"? Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 22:53
  • 3
    Cmd-Space and type Stickies
    – jcollum
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 21:30
  • 1
    The dock-icon right-click menu for accessing this probably makes this the most workable workaround solution I've seen so far (IMO).
    – Thogek
    Commented Jun 1 at 20:03
15

UPDATED SOLUTION:

I came up with a better hack inspired by Karl's answer. Open up the Stickies app. Right click on it on the Dock and select Options -> All Desktops.

Create one sticky. In it create a list like this:

Desktop 1 - Email
Desktop 2 - Gaming
Desktop 3 - Home Business

Make it tall enough and the font large enough so that it is legible when in Command Center.

Now, when you go into Command Center, your "legend" will be available on all Desktops so you can quickly see which one to switch to.

ORIGINAL SOLUTION:

Here's another hack. Open TextEdit and create a new document. Change the font size to something like 175 points and reshape the window to be very short and very wide. Type in the name you want for that desktop. Then duplicate the document, move it to a new desktop and change the name visible there.

As a result you can usually read the names in Mission Control (as long as a window isn't obscuring it) and you can easily switch to a Desktop by name by showing all TextEdit windows and selecting the correct one.

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    I like this one
    – Julien__
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 12:02
11

[Update: creator here - I have pulled this app from the App Store because it's a free app that I currently don't have a great way to test on Monterey, as I don't own hardware that can run it (I have a 2014 MBP), and it now has not received bug updates in over a year.]

There's an app (in the Mac App Store) that lets you name Spaces via the menubar. It also lets you give each Space a unique icon, and tells you how you spend time across your Spaces (and the apps within them). Because macOS APIs are limited, the names stay in the app and don't show up in Mission Control. But they are persistent.

The app also lets you jump directly to another (named) Space via its dropdown menu. B/c Apple lets you have up to 16 Spaces per screen, this is handy in navigating between them.

Here's a preview shot, you can see the option to jump directly to a Space (app calls them Rooms) via a dropdown, and you can see time spent across them. A view of CurrentKey Stats, which lets you name Spaces, jump between them, and more

Free in the App Store -- CurrentKey Stats. I made it, and it launched about a week before this comment was made. For additional stats (30-day view and exportable reports) you can buy an upgrade, but all the above stuff is free.

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  • This project seems to be dead. At least it's not on the AppStore anymore, and I can't find any link. Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 13:45
  • 1
    It is temporarily off the store. Apple’s macOS Big Sur has a bug (reddit.com/r/apple/comments/jt0gjk/…) that ruins multiple screen/external monitor support for its users. This bug severely affects CurrentKey Stats’ ability to operate on external displays. For this reason, CurrentKey Stats is being pulled from the App Store until Big Sur is fixed by Apple. The project link is currentkey.com
    – sdailey
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 19:16
  • 2
    Update: it's back in the App Store. The latest Big Sur update seems to fix the underlying issue mentioned above.
    – sdailey
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 4:33
  • 1
    This app has potential to be a great solution. Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 13:54
  • I can't for the life of me understand why you keep pulling it from the App Store, and in such a manic way at that. There are many people whose systems are able to run it properly, so why keep it from them? If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're intentionally trying to piss people off.
    – Aquarelle
    Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 6:58
7

I'm currently in a position where I want to define a Desktop by a task I'm currently working on; one desktop per task. This makes solutions like using a full screen app or assigning an image unsuitable for me, since I often use more than a single app to fulfill a task and my to do list changes so often that creating custom desktop backgrounds or writing out a legend is not efficient.

What I've been doing is, since I usually need several terminals at a time, I just name each one based on what I'm doing. That helps me remember what all my terminals are for, and then I can just right-click on the terminal icon to get a sort of on-the-fly legend.

4

I am not allowed third-party apps on my work computer so I experimented with the stickies option and tried to make it as least distracting as possible.

One solution is to use emojis instead of text. They will look like buttons when checking the different stickies. You can stick them in a corner of your dock and you don't even need to set them as "floating" if you use the Stickies app as a button. You can reduce the note to make it even more compact. Then I just keep my spaces in a separate order: 1. Coding for where I code, 2. for where I check emails and messages, 3. for where I browse the internet.

Music players or apps I might need in every spaces are set as Options > Assign to > All Desktops.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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    Not sure this is any better in terms of the notes-on-desktops markers, but I somehow hadn't thought of using those and switching between them via the dock-icon context menu; that I kinda-sorta like. I'd like more for Apple to allow us to rename the desktops themselves, but failing that...
    – Thogek
    Commented Jun 1 at 19:59
3

I have found that opening one app per desktop names it after that. In my work that's really helpful because it allows me to have google gasmask open in one, terminal running my local server in another, atom in another and so on, very helpful that it names it after the app running!

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    The app has to be in fullscreen mode in order to give space a name. This is in the accepted answer. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:25
3

I had a thought. Why not just put a small sticky on the monitor above the desktop space with the description of that desktop.

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    Sometimes the easiest thing is a physical reminder in precisely the correct physical location. +1
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:35
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    And you can use white-out to make on-screen corrections while you're at it. ;-)
    – August
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 7:02
  • * And also use Control + ↓ as suggested by user @gazdagergo to look up all the stickies. Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 23:06
2

There is one simple, effective solution that does not require disabling SIP or constant fiddling.

The Wallpaper for each Space can be set independently. Control-click on the desktop of a Space, select Change Wallpaper and choose an image relevant to the function of the space. You can also make one yourself in your favourite image editor with the name you want to give the space. Personally, I'm enjoying typing the name I want to give the space into an image synthesiser and using the AI-generated image.

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  • The question is asking about the Desktops/Spaces. The wallpaper was never brought up or mentioned.
    – agarza
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 1:58
  • 1
    This could sorta work if none of the desktops in question have much of any windows open (or one always remembers to minimize all windows before switching desktops). OTOH, most of mine have enough windows open to obscure most of any wallpaper.
    – Thogek
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 18:07
  • This is the main method I have used in the past. Typically I have one space per client that I work with, and I set a desktop image that reminds me of the city they're based in. Commented May 14 at 6:57
2

I cannot believe that after so many years, apple still do not allow you do this. I like the idea of sticky notes, but I hate to use mouse searching for the sticky notes among so many applications. I end up writing an hammerspoon script to help me with it. After all the setup of stickies as suggested in the other answers and put the following script in my init.lua, just pressing {"cmd", "alt", "ctrl"} + "space" leads me to pick the desktop/spaces. Hope it helps! BTW, I must admit that chat-gpt helped me with most of the coding.

function showAppMissionControl(appName)
    local app = hs.application.get(appName)
    
    if app then
        app:activate()
        -- Trigger Mission Control (Application Exposé)
        hs.eventtap.keyStroke({ "fn", "ctrl" }, "down") -- You may need to adjust the key combination if your keyboard layout is different
    end
end

local hyper = {"cmd", "alt", "ctrl"}
hs.hotkey.bind(hyper, 'space', function()
    showAppMissionControl('Stickies')
end)
1

You could also make a screenshot of the application. Then set that as the desktop wallpaper for that space.

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    Terrible solution. You will not know if the app is open of not.
    – raarts
    Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 12:22
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    This is problematic if there are windows blocking the desktop background
    – Oion Akif
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 13:37
0

I tried this solution and it worked perfectly with Catalina so it should work for everything before that

https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/400347/359843

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0

We are not allowed to do this because Apple has reserved the name for the name of the application that resides as a maximized window on the desktop.

However, Apple could provide the name and change the font or something else depending on whether it is a maximized app desktop or a normal desktop. If I have time I will suggest this to Apple.

Here is what it looks like when you have a named desktop using Google Chrome and the information about my MacBook:

enter image description hereenter image description here

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 14:39
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure no one here is asking about a maximized-application-window desktop.
    – Thogek
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 4:40
0

My solution is to name the Chrome windows assigned to each desktop space, not the desktop space itself.

In my workflow I have one Desktop Space per client (plus a general one for me). Each client also have a dedicated Chrome window with all the relevant client pages and tools open. Chrome allows you to name window and assign an icon. So each client Chrome windows gets an icon, color, and name.

Switching between spaces is as easy as using Chrome's windows menu to select a client window.

-4

I've figured it out. All you have to do is make the app or browser page full screen, and it will automatically be named in the mission control view. See photo.

enter image description here

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    Issue there is that the menus aren't visible in full-screen mode, in many apps that's annoying.
    – DYoung
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 15:42
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    The OP (and most others who have this question, I think) are looking to assign a name to a space encompassing multiple windows and applications. Often, a single application will have one or more windows in multiple spaces. For those use cases, this solution is worthless.
    – JakeRobb
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 18:47

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