I've got a curious problem with my computer, which is set up with 2 spaces. I use the Move left a space and Move right a space shortcut to switch between them.

Quite often, particularly the first time I switch spaces after rebooting, OS X just switches back straight away. The sliding animation finishes, and then - just as the desktop icons would ordinarily start to fade in, or the key window would appear highlighted - it switches back, putting me back where I was. Subsequent switches work fine.

For something so minor-sounding, it's surprisingly annoying. Has anybody else had this, and managed to fix it? I'm not really sure where to begin looking. There are no messages in the console.

OS X Lion 10.7.5.

  • This appears to be something to do with having icons on one's desktop, when the space switch is the first time that the icons would have needed to be shown, and when OS X doesn't have a cached copy of the icon to hand... or something like that. Radar #12588147.
    – Tom Seddon
    Oct 27, 2012 at 22:29
  • This is happening to me on Sierra, but only occasionally, and only on an external display. Oct 24, 2017 at 20:14

2 Answers 2


I have the same issue on High Sierra and only just figured out what's causing the issue for me. It happens when I:

  • have the same application open in both desktops/spaces, Chrome windows in this example
  • switch from Chrome to another application
  • change desktops

It will revert to the previous desktop and make Chrome the active application. Now when I change desktops it will not switch back. I have not yet found a solution to this issue, other than making the application that is on both desktops, the active application before switching.


If you delete all the files from your desktop folder, the space switch works every time.

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