Become a Power User with Mission Control

Most of the time, I am working on a dual-LED setup. I have my 15" MacBook Pro with Retina, and right next to it, a 24" Apple Cinema Display. It's a great setup. The reason I like it so much is that having a second display effectively doubles my working space. This allows me to have twice as many apps open at once, without things feeling too crowded.

When I'm on the move and working off just my laptop's display, things can start to feel a little crowded when I have multiple apps open. I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only one that feels this way. OS X has a great answer to this problem. It's called Mission Control, and it's easy to use.

Mission Control allows you to create multiple virtual Desktops. Think of it this way: I have two physical displays that I use when I'm using my external Cinema Display. Each display can have apps visible on that display. If I take one display away, I am left with only one display. A virtual Desktop is like adding a second (or third or fourth) display back to my computer. It's not physical, but it acts as if it's its own display (with its own apps running on it).

As you can see from the screenshot above, I currently have three "spaces" (virtual Desktops) open, as well as Dashboard (Dashboard is always open by default). "Desktop 1" currently has no apps running, while "Desktop 2" and "Desktop 3" have their own set of apps running. I can switch to these spaces either by selecting the one I want to access, or by using a four-finger swipe on my trackpad (you can also use Control + left/right arrow buttons to move left and right).

There are several ways to invoke Mission Control:

  • Multi-figer gesture: use four fingers to swipe up on your trackpad
  • Launch the Mission Control app: Finder > Applications > Mission Control
  • Keyboard shortcut: Press Control + the up arrow

If you want, you can customize how to access Mission Control by going to System Preferences > Mission Control:

When Mission Control is open, you can drag your apps from your primary space to additional spaces. You can do this over and over again, until things are set up the way you want them (the way that makes sense to your workflow). You can also re-order your spaces.

There are lots of different ways to organize your spaces. For me, I tend to group like apps on the same space. For example, if I have multiple Safari windows open, I will group them all on their own space. If I have several Messages chat windows open, I will designate a space for that.

To give you an idea of what you can do with Mission Control, I made a short video. The motions and movements in the video are just to give you an idea of how to use and organize your very won spaces.

Posted on July 8, 2014 and filed under Design, How To, Mac, Opinion.