One of the best things about Mac OS X, which I tend to overuse on a daily basis, is the way it handles virtual desktops. This feature is known as Spaces, which is tightly integrated with Mission Control. In case you use Snow Leopard, Lion, or Mountain Lion, you surely know what I am talking about. Since I sometimes also use Windows-powered machine, I always find myself limited in those situations and I realize how essential Spaces are to me.
During the years, several small applications appeared, which promised to widely expand ability of Spaces and Mission Control, but I never found any of those application particularly helpful. I guess this is because I believe Apple has made such a good job on their terms, which made any other 3rd party attempt unsuccessful. Then I tested and tried Total Spaces, made by Binary Age.
As you probably know, Spaces works in such way that it organizes virtual desktops and full-screen applications in one row. In order to switch between them, you have to flip them one by one until you reach your goal. You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to speed up this process, but since you can’t assign specific applications to a specific desktop (without much hassle), this doesn’t really ease up this type of navigation. This is where Total Spaces could be put to a good use, since by installing it you can organize spaces (desktop and full-screen apps) into grid.
Total Spaces come with a comprehensive Preferences pane, where you can choose how large you want grid to be. It also separates grid of virtual desktops and full screen apps, which is also different than original Spaces setting.
You should know that Total Spaces won’t replace Spaces and Mission Control, by default. It is simply additional way to control desktops, which has its own spaces overview feature (which imitates Mission Control, roughly said). It allows you to see a predefined grid, and to choose which space you’d like to open. You can use keyboard shortcuts to quickly open a specific space, but you won’t be able to use gestures based action. Since spaces are organized in a grid, it would be too difficult to use a gesture as one continuous input to move 4, 5, or 6 desktops up or down. It isn’t a problem to use keyboard instead, but if you’re accustomed to Mission Control gestures, it will take some time to adjust.
Total Spaces also allows you to lock certain application to a certain desktop, and it also features additional transition effects. You will be able to pick from several new transitions (cube, swap, flip, reveal, and fade) as well as their speeds.
In general, Total Spaces is one of the best applications which tries to replace system built-in Spaces and Mission Control. It does give you plenty of additional features and adjustments that you can use with the original Mac OS X setting. But a bottom line is that it still feels like a 3rd party application which needs some more work to feel like an essential Mac OS X add-on.
You can purchase it at a current price of $15.00.