Spaces on Leopard

It was nice to see Spaces on the feature list for Leopard (Mac OS 10.5). I’d been quite happy using Desktop Manager for virtual desktops on Mac OS X, but once Spaces was announced I think everyone working on virtual desktop software for Mac OS X pretty much threw in the towel.

Now that I’ve had a chance to play with Spaces I have some complaints. Two specific ones that really bother me, both dealing with application pinning. First, having application windows in more than one space. I generally have at least eight terminal windows (thank you iTerm) open in across several different desktops. When I tried to do the same thing in Spaces it would always open in the same desktop, the one where iTerm was first launched in. The “work around” is to open all of the iTerm windows that you want in one space and then go to the Spaces app (the view that shows you all of your desktops) and drag the terminal windows to the various spaces that you want to actually use them in. If for some reason you have to close one of them then you’ll have to go back to the original desktop that iTerm was launched in, create a new window, go back to the Spaces app and drag it back to where you want it. So it isn’t impossible to get around this behavior, but the method involved is really annoying.

My second gripe is one that I haven’t been able to work around at all. When you switch an application your are always automatically moved to the space that the app is in and it is given focus. The classic example of this for me is clicking on a link in an email which opens in Firefox. I generally will go and look at the site later, after getting through more email. Which means I want the link to open in Firefox, but be left in the same space as my email app. But I haven’t found a way to do this in Spaces, you will always be moved. What I’d like to see is that behavior being optional, perhaps only for apps that are assigned to a specific space.

So far I’m fine with everything else in Spaces, although a little pager on the desktop would be nice.

UPDATE 14 Feb 2008: This behavior can now be turned off in 10.5.2

6 Comments

  1. The iTerm workaround sounds pretty annoying. I’m looking forward to playing with Leopard as soon as I get a chance to upgrade, thankful that you’re breaking the path! ;)

  2. It is. I’m really hoping someone comes up with a tweak to change the way Spaces works.

  3. I’ve played with Leopard for a few days now, and is it me, or is it a close knockoff to Solaris/Any favorite Linux distribution? I’d almost rather use Ubuntu than Leopard. I mean spaces has been around forever, rsync instead of Time Machine, and I just hate browsing in the Applications dir for the programs I haven’t docked yet. I wish there was a Win key + E alternative to getting to browsing the files system, like there is in XP too.

    I’m not against X, as a matter of fact, that’s the only laptop or desktop that I’d put money towards right now for a family computer. But I find myself more productive in XP/Vista/Ubuntu after trying Leopard.

    Don’t flame me too hard ;)

  4. @Scott

    I’ve been using Mac OS X as my main dev system for a few years now and have enjoyed it much more than Windows. And with the move to x86 hardware I can still run XP under Parallels any time that I need.

    I just wish the annoying behaviors in could be changed.

    As for Time Machine, I don’t have a big use for it. I do regular backups to external FireWire 800 drives, which are bootable. I would love to be able to do something like that under Windows.

    For servers though, I still love my FreeBSD :-)

  5. Thanks Joseph!

    > I do regular backups to external FireWire 800 drives, which are bootable. I would love to be able to do something like that under Windows.

    I currently do this on my laptop (Sony Vaio) – I have multiple drives instead of partitions and boot a different OS or backup files from them. I think the key is getting a BIOS that supports the FW boot.

  6. I think it goes beyond just having support for booting FW devices in the BIOS. For instance, I’ve never seen any Windows backup software that claims to be able to make a bootable backup.

    On a Mac I can make a backup to an external drive, pull the internal drive out of the system entirely and boot using the external drive. I don’t have to touch any system files, it just runs.

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