I've just moved to Mac from Linux. There I used to have a fixed number of desktops running full-screen apps. I've managed to configure it on Mac, but yet can not find the way to assign shortcuts to switch between them. For ex. to use Command + 1 to go to the first full-screen desktop.

Several years ago I've been using some app to do so, but I can not find it now. Any ideas on how to do it?

5 Answers 5


On macOS Monterey 12 or earlier:

  • Go to System Preferences app → Keyboard → Shortcuts and you can assign keyboard shortcuts to move across Spaces (desktops).

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On macOS Ventura 13 or later:

  • Go to System Settings app → Keyboard Shortcuts... and you can assign keyboard shortcuts to move across Spaces (desktops).

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You can also use the F3 (Mission Control) key on your Mac's keyboard to get a birds eye view of all the Spaces (desktops in Mac parlance) and quickly and directly switch to the desired one. However, this will also involve using the mouse/trackpad.

If you are looking for a 3rd-party tool which lets you customize keyboard shortcuts with much fine grain control, a popular app among users of macOS is Karabiner.

  • 4
    Thank you for the reply, but standard shortcuts do not allow to switch between full-screen apps, which is the case. I use Karabiner to remap some buttons, but it seems like it does not support anything else Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 14:30
  • 1
    Fullscreen are always to the right of numbered Spaces & cannot be switched to directly; only by going to the last numbered Space then navigating right until you get there. One more reason I never use fullscreen :\
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 14:45
  • 2
    @HuliiBorys I use the Move left a space/Move right a space keyboard shortcut as a workaround.
    – Nimesh Neema
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 14:59
  • Full Screen apps can just be ⌘Tab'ed over to. Commented May 22, 2020 at 7:58
  • 1
    Hi, I have three screens, I have the Switch to Desktop enabled. If I select the ctrl+1 I see the desktop on my 1st screen however pressing ctrl+2 or ctrl+3 do nothing. Any ideas? Have I got the wrong end of the stick here or do you think this is a bug? @NimeshNeema
    – atreeon
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 18:21

I would suggest to simply activate the predefined shortcuts within:

System Preferences… > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Mission Control

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These shortcut could be replaced by ⌘1, ⌘2… by clicking on the shortcut part of the shortcut definition line (I love this kind of hidden function to make an OS looks like an exploration game to keep our brain on fighting position).

I didn't because I use these default shortcuts within X11 to switch between windows.

  • The default solution has 2 major problems: - it does not keep track of applications, only desktops, so all the window management has to be done manually on every login. - it supports 4 Desktops max, when for the smooth set-up you usually need at least 6 (browser, code editor, terminal, chatters, email, other random stuff) Commented May 25, 2020 at 11:36
  • This shortcut definition supports as many desktop as you create, I am using it with ten ;). You should have tried.
    – dan
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 16:16
  • This Desktop managment propose you 3 ≠ kind of bindings between application and desktop. You should have tried.
    – dan
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 16:19
  • I've tried it for approx. a month. It is completely not the same experience as you can get using tiling window managers. Commented May 26, 2020 at 13:05
  • Ah! took me ages to read the small text that says "To change... double click.. "
    – dodohjk
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 7:52

I've found the solution. An application called Keyboard Maestro (KM). It allows for creating very complex scenarios. For my case, it is very simple. Just create Activate a Specific Application inside the Switching Group and assign a hotkey combination.

EDIT: Thanks to @codepringle, https://github.com/koekeishiya/yabai is definitely a better solution. Also, I've found this project, they are doing the same but differently ¯_(ツ)_/¯ https://github.com/ianyh/Amethyst

But any of those are laggy as hell. Eventually, I had to go back to linux + https://i3wm.org/ to have stable window navigation.

  • Were you able to get this to work with "desktops" in general? Or simply full screen apps? Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 12:36
  • 2
    On Mac, I use full-screen apps, which is extremely annoying because they are always listed in random order. If you want to make it work smooth and stable... Go to Linux. After almost half a year, I could not make this garbage work correctly, so I'm moving back. Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 14:35
  • 2
    Not sure if this is still useful to you, but I've since found that the program yabai for MacOS works very well for this. By default it should give you hotkeys for each space like i3 does on Linux. Alt+1, Alt+2, ... => Space 1, Space 2. github.com/koekeishiya/yabai Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 21:20
  • Thank you @codepringle ! It is much closer to what I was looking for than my hack with Keyboard Maestro. Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 10:36
  • No problem! Could you update the answer to include yabai? I had a very hard time finding it organically in Google search results because a lot of q/a websites were simply outdated with answers like Keyboard Maestro. Commented May 19, 2020 at 16:19

+ / (control + left or right arrow key)

On macOS Sonoma 14.3.1

  • How is your answer different to the existing answers? Commented Feb 16 at 11:54
  • The others just supply a screenshot, which is not necessarily helpful for those relying on assistive technologies (screen readers, although OCR and LLM's are quite good already), nor do they outright mention these being already enabled by default.
    – Zael
    Commented Apr 6 at 17:41

using a MacBook Pro without separate keyboard, the best way is to 4 finger swipe on track pad left to right or right to left moves from desktop to desk top or Mission Control F3 or hot corner Mission Control for an overview of apps in the desktops

  • 5
    While this is an alternative solution, the OP specifically asked for "using keyboard shortcuts".
    – agarza
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 4:30

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