Collect windows in Spaces in Snow Leopard

Rob Griffiths
16 September, 2009
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If you’re a Spaces user, you may have known about the semi-secret “collect all windows in one Space” trick (see our Leopard tips article) in OS X 10.5—just activate Spaces’ overview mode, then press C, and all open windows on all Spaces would instantly jump onto the first space. I didn’t use this trick often, but it sure came in handy for those times when my Spaces were just out of control.

Sadly, this feature has been removed from Snow Leopard, and there’s no direct replacement, at least not that I’ve discovered. Mac OS X Hints reader Joseph Tchen, however, has discovered something of a workaround. When looking at Spaces’ overview mode, you’re probably aware that the arrow keys can be used to select one of your Spaces, and you can then press the space bar to activate that Space. In 10.6, though, the arrow keys gain some new powers when used with modifier keys.

To collect the open windows from the currently-selected Space and move them to another Space, just hold down the Command key prior to pressing an arrow key. If you’ve got the top left Space selected in overview mode, if you press Command-Right Arrow, all open windows from that Space will be moved right one Space. Keep holding Command down, and press the Down Arrow, and your original open windows (from the top-left Space) will be added to the current Space’s windows, and the whole collection will then be moved down one Space. If this seems confusing, just try it—it’s easier to do than to explain!

If you hold down the Option key instead of the Command key, pressing an arrow key will then swap the currently-selected Space with the one in the direction of the chosen arrow key. For example, with the top-left Space selected, pressing Option-Down Arrow will swap open windows between the top-left Space and the one immediately below it.

Finally, while not new in Snow Leopard’s Spaces overview mode, remember that you can move all open windows for any one application from Space to Space by using the Shift key—just hold down the Shift key prior to dragging, and all windows for the chosen program will be moved from one Space to another.

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