I will often use Spaces on Mac OS X 10.5 to switch to another space when a program is busy / unresponsive. Very often, without warning or apparent reason, Spaces will switch back to the first space without my requesting it to do so. Why does it do this and how can i stop it? How can I make spaces only switch in response to my requests?

  • @mankoff: It does, or worse, it will do it when i am typing something in one app, it will switch me away from that app to a space with another app. It often happens when an app is unresponsive. Like earlier today when I asked this, iTunes couldn't find some songs and was just giving the spinning beachball. I switched spaces to write some code, and every ~5 seconds it would switch back to iTunes, which was still unresponsive.
    – Josh
    Commented Dec 10, 2010 at 22:05
  • I don't doubt it. This happens to me a lot.
    – Ken
    Commented Dec 12, 2010 at 17:57

1 Answer 1


Stop Spaces from switching spaces due to an app coming to the foreground:

defaults write com.apple.Dock workspaces-auto-swoosh -bool NO && killall Dock

Or via the GUI: System Prefs > Spaces and then uncheck the checkbox at the bottom: "When switching to an application, switch to a space with open windows for the application"

Stop (slow down) Spaces from switching spaces if your mouse presses against the edge of the desktop:

defaults write com.apple.dock workspaces-edge-delay -float 60 && killall Dock
  • nice one mankoff!
    – fady
    Commented Dec 10, 2010 at 20:46
  • That first one sounds perfect, but I just did it and now, when I click an app in the dock, the system no longer switches to that space. If it also solves the issue I was having, I can live with it however :-)
    – Josh
    Commented Dec 10, 2010 at 22:03
  • @Josh I find the first one necessary. What if I want two terminals open on different spaces? Or a new browser in the current space? Not easily possible if the spaces keep switching elsewhere...
    – user588
    Commented Dec 10, 2010 at 22:45
  • I found that System Preferences -> Spaces -> Turn Off, was the solution to 100% of the problems spaces was giving me. I have dual screens, so “context” switching is not for me, I hide things I don’t use. But then again, I have 12GB of RAM so I understand that in small screens or more constricted environments the simplicity of having different contexts and being able to switch to them might be desirable. I’d use spaces if I could make the switch instant, as fast as a HIDE/UNHIDE works. I don’t like the swooosh thing. Commented Dec 11, 2010 at 14:53
  • 2
    I tried your solution and it stops switching if an app is already open, but how can I prevent the switch if an app opens in an other space. E.g. I’m on space 1 and iTunes is set to show always on space 2, if I start iTunes while working on space 1 Leopard switches to space two automatically. Is it possible to open iTunes on the second space in the “background”?
    – Tobi
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 13:29

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