Apple’s Dirty Little Secret: Leopard’s ‘Spaces’ Sucks Ass.

Spaces is one of the coolest features of Leopard. In theory.

The way it works is you can create a virtual “grid” where you have several, identical “desktops” with different programs “assigned” to each.

You can either assign them permanently, or simply drag them between the Spaces as you see fit.

For instance, you can have the Web and iTunes in Space #1.
And when you want to do some Flash, or Photoshop just switch to, say, Space #2.
Or, “Word processing and presentations”? Jump to Space #3.
Ripping a DVD? Head on over to Space #5.

And so on. It makes a ton of sense. It’s a beautifully simple concept.
The problem is it doesn’t really work.

First of all, the major 3rd party apps Adobe’s CS3, and Microsoft’s Office 2008 (which I already addressed, here) simply don’t “play” well with Spaces. Nor do many others.

What happens is when you switch back and forth betweenst Spaces the apps get all wiggy. Their windows get mixed up, wonky, and greyed-out. Log-in screens and palettes get scattered between the Spaces, too. And you can’t get them back together again without restarting the program(s).

And, surprisingly, Apple’s own apps aren’t much better.
The main menu bar at the top of the screen often says “Safari”, which is in space #1, when you’re in Space #4 using FontBook.

And God help you if you like to use any of OSX’s other awesome features, like Expose, or the standard “TAB” to switch between apps, or “H” to “hide” apps… it gets even dicier.

Sometimes apps disappear completely.

Of course the larger problem here is Apple’s trademark “no comment”. Because although both Microsoft and Adobe have acknowledged the issue, they have both pointed their fingers squarely at Spaces, and Apple.

Not much of a surprise.

But Apple needs to step up here.

Why? Because it’s their operating system. And they have a duty to make sure it not only does what they say it does, but also play well with at LEAST the other big dogs in the park.

After all, isn’t that what separates them from Windows?

They need to acknowledge the issue exists, pronto, and then fix it on their end. Again, pronto.
And then help the Devs fix it on their end.


Regardless of who’s fault it is, the fact remains that Spaces doesn’t work as-advertised. Despite several updates of Leopard, and both CS3 and Office 2008.

And message boards across teh internets are strewn with questions upon questions about these exact issues. All with ZERO answers.

Everyone’s repeatedly hoping that the “next update” will fix this. Finger’s crossed.
But help never comes.

Thousands and thousands of loyal customers are simply “dealing with it”.

This is unacceptable. Buts (surprise) if it got more press… it will get fixed.

I’m doing my part. Now for MacWorld, Mac Addict, Computerworld, Cnet, etc, et all.



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  1. Andre’s avatar

    Actually, I bought a Macbook a couple of months ago, and spaces is working perfectly. I didn’t run in to any of the problems you mentioned.


  2. edstate’s avatar

    Are you running CS3 and/or Msoft Office ’08?


  3. Erwin’s avatar

    I fully agree. It’s trash. Try opening an document, attached to Entourage f.i. Spaces gets really confused when you do that. Instead of opening the doc in the space you assigned to Word, it will (sometimes) start to ‘loop’ (switching in a breathtaking tempo) between the e-mail program and Word. On some occasions I wasn’t even able to end this behavior. I decided to stop fiddling around with it altogether, however much I wanted to like it.


  4. edstate’s avatar

    It is a shame. What’s more, it’s an absolute travesty that this has gotten no, zero, zip, nada attention. From anyone. And I’ve written all the pubs, and all the companies. Crickets.

    It’s a travesty because it’s such a revolutionary idea.

    The best advice I’ve gotten is “don’t use spaces”.


  5. aarfing’s avatar

    This problem made me search Google for the 10000000 time just now… I have 2 monitors and 8 spaces and I’m running Photoshop CS4, and the problems you mention in your article, are driving me absolutely bonkers… IT’S FRUSTRATING AS HELL…

    Apple, FIX THIS… or I swear to god, I’ll buy Windows 7 when it’s released…


  6. Ben’s avatar

    I’ve had my macbook pro for about 2 months. I’ve decided to switch away from OSX for a number of usability reasons.

    One of them is spaces, I like the way gnome (ubuntu) handles workspaces, there are keyboard shortcuts to shift windows from one work space to another. It’s just to slow doing this with the mouse, I like to boost productivity. Linux has compiz fusion which is much more friendly than apples spaces view, and there are several ways to look at it, I like the cube personally.

    The second reason is the Dock, it’s a flashy piece of shit, I often get 3 or more icons that look the same, right now I have 3 stacks with the same icon. So then you have to ‘scrub’ the dock to reveal the labels. If I have many windows under a single app, like 3 firefox windows, they tend to overlap. So the only way to find my hidden window is expose. Windows 7 solves this problem by giving each app in the taskbar a list of windows to choose from.

    What I do like about osx is spotlight, finder and the position of the menu bar.

    I have not decided which OS I will use instead of osx, though I think it may be linux for web development and windows 7 for games and office.


    1. edstate’s avatar

      I’m hoping hoping hoping that Snow Leopard will fix some of this… cross your fingers and hold your breath!


    2. aarfing’s avatar

      Is it fixed in Snow Leopard? Or is it time to look into Win7?


      1. edstate’s avatar

        I read that Microsoft worked “with Apple” to make sure Office 2008 worked w/ Spaces, and so far… it does. But I haven’t put it through it’s paces yet.

        CS4 is working well, too. Although if you don’t have a document open in, say, Illustrator it will “come” to whatever space you’re in, instead of taking you back to the space where you left it. However, if you do have a page open, it seems to work fine.

        For both suites… SO FAR… I haven’t seen any of the dreaded “wondering toolbars”, and more importantly w/ CS4 all the menus and tools are there (not greyed out) when you switch back and forth.

        So far so good!


      2. aarfing’s avatar

        Alright, although not perfect, it sounds like it’s gotten somewhat better… Thank you.


      3. aarfing’s avatar

        I can confirm – it works MUCH better in SL…


      4. dude Lebowski’s avatar

        I used spaces for a year now.
        They piss me off due to what you mentioned!
        I turned it off



        1. edstate’s avatar

          It’s actually much, much better in Snow Leopard. And it seems to play well with Office 2008, and CS5. But it seems like they’ve decided to abandon it (?) in next year’s 10.7 Lion. Which is a shame, because in-theory Spaces is awesome.



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