Quickly Navigate Mission Control Spaces With These Keyboard Tips [OS X Tips]

Desktop Mission Control

If you haven’t been using OS X’s Mission Control lately, you’re missing out. It’s a great way to separate out your apps, full screen and not, to be just that much more productive on your Mac.

Trouble is, it seems like a fairly mouse-centric system, with users encouraged to click on the different desktops across the top or the apps in the main window area to bring them up.

Luckily, there are a couple of keyboard shortcuts to help you move between Desktop spaces, at least, and one to help you add or delete them, as well.

Once you activate Mission Control (the default is the F3 key), you can then use the Control-Arrow keys, Left and Right, to navigate between Desktop spaces.

If that’s not enough fine-grained control, you can also use the Control-1, Control-2, -3, -4, etc. keys to navigate directly to the Desktop space, in any order.

There’s a default of four Desktops in Mission Control. If you want to delete one, hit the Option key to see the iOS-style X button in the upper left of the Desktop at the top. If you want to add one, click on the big Plus button to the far right once you hit the Option key.

You’ll still need to click on the app you want to open, here, so there’s some room for improvement. This is a good start, though!

  • JamesGunaca

    You can use CTRL+arrows while not in mission control to open expose (apps) or expose (app windows) and navigate between desktops.

    Also, CTRL 1, 2, 3 etc don’t work for me on ML either in Mission Control or when just on a desktop. I have two desktops enabled so not sure why this isn’t working.

  • HerbalEd

    I have a much faster and easier way to do all this. If it’s not already in my hand, I can grab my mouse in a splice second, instantly slide the cursor into the upper-right hot-corner of my screen, and, as my cursor is already in place, I can then quickly choose or delete or drag or make a new window.

    Ever tried dragging a window with a key? You can’t.

    While some keyboard short-cuts are (supposedly) well and good, when it comes to using the mouse vs. key strokes I can instinctively and immediately grab and use the mouse just as fast as using key strokes. In fact, the mouse is actually much faster when instead of touch typing you have to seek out specific function keys and/or use two keys at once (e.g., option-arrow) as described in this article.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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