Multiple Desktops for Students

This guest post by Oliver Jenkins, a sophomore in SEAS and Wharton, and Apple campus representative, describes how he uses multiple desktops to organize his workoliver. Oliver will present a workshop on this topic next Sunday.

As a student, my life is a constant battle between all of the tasks I have to do and the space in my desktop (physical and digital) and my mind. When I’m working on two class projects, a club project, and searching for sources for a research paper, all while occasionally checking email and FaceBook, how can I keep it all straight? Thankfully Mac OS X has a very useful tool for helping with this battle.

macdesktopIt’s called Multiple Desktops and is in my opinion one of the most under appreciated (and among Windows users least known) tools OS X has to offer. With a three-finger swipe up on a Mac trackpad (or a key press) you enter mission control view, which shows all open windows. But then if you go to the top right corner of the screen, a small box with a plus in it will appear. Clicking this lets you add an entirely separate desktop in addition to the one you started with. It will still have all of the same desktop icons and programs in the dock, but the sets of open windows on the two can be completely distinct.

As you can imagine, this can be very powerful. In the Mission Control view you can click and drag windows from desktop to desktop with ease. You can also simply open windows on a certain desktop and they will stay there. In mission control view or even just standard desktop view a simple three finger swipe from side to side lets you switch between adjacent desktops. With all this available to you, it becomes possible to put each window involved with a certain task on a single desktop devoted to that task. I generally sort things by what they concern, so I might have a pdf textbook open on a desktop with a word processor to write a paper, or a web browser on a desktop with a presentation to which I am adding pictures.

All told, this functionality is fantastic for keeping myself organized and combatting that feeling of disorganization that I mentioned above. Having multiple desktops makes it like you have many screens (up to 18 of them in fact) all on one. This lets a student such as myself compartmentalize my work and my mind, helping me be more productive. This is a fantastic tool that any Mac user (and any Windows user considering a Mac) should definitely know about.

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