Edit: I never got SaneDesk working on Mac 10.9 Mavericks and the developer wasn’t able to solve my issue, but your mileage may vary.
Spaces is of course built-in to the Mac operating system for people who like to use multiple ‘virtual’ desktops on their Macs. I’ve always found that Spaces is pretty good (Ctrl + Arrow keys for moving around virtual desktops is pretty intuitive, and Ctrl + number key can move you directly to any numbered virtual desktop), but there’s not much you can customize with Spaces to make you even more efficient. For example, just being able to give your various workspaces different names can help with productivity – “Video Editing Workspace” is much more descriptive than “Desktop 3”. Fortunately there’s a couple 3rd party apps that allow you to customize Spaces more to your individual preferences.
SaneDesk & TotalSpaces
- Both allow you to create custom names for however many virtual desktops you want.
- Both work with multiple monitors.
- Both have customizable hotkeys to allow you to move around desktops (though TotalSpaces has more hotkey options).
- Both cost $18 (as of Sep, 2014).
But their differences are subtle but worth noting as it will ultimately come down to the features you value most that will decide which app you opt for.
TotalSpaces in a nutshell seems a bit less fully-featured than SaneDesk but it has two very important positives:
- TotalSpaces has obviously made it a priority to make it easy to navigate from desktop to desktop.
- It has one killer feature that SaneDesk doesn’t have – assigning applications to specific desktops.
The ‘Grid’ view is where you can see an overview of all your desktops and is reachable either through an assignable hot corner or hot key:
It’s important to note that TotalSpaces uses relative movement as its metaphor for navigating desktops: you can move up / down & left / right relative from your current desktop until you reach your desired desktop using assignable hotkeys:
TotalSpaces gives visual feedback when you move around your workspaces:
Macbook users can easily swipe to move between virtual desktops:
And last but not least, TotalSpaces allows you to assign which desktop you want each apps to open its windows in.
This is a very useful feature for assigning apps like iTunes or the Finder to their own ‘space’ (Finder’s app is located in /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder), or for grouping a subset of your applications into its own workspace. For example, iMovie and Final Cut Pro could be assigned to open in your “Video Editing” space while Transmit FTP, Espresso Editor and Google Chrome could be assigned to your “Web Development” workspace. If you consider attaching an app like Stickies to one Desktop, then TotalSpaces can effectively replace apps like Surface and Qu-s.
SaneDesk uses a different navigation metaphor to move between desktops. Instead of moving relatively like in TotalSpaces, you assign up to 9 assignable hotkeys in SaneDesk to hyperspace-launch you directly to the workspace you want to move to:
Another way that SaneDesk differs from its competition is its concern with desktop icons and how too many of them can sap productivity. After you turn on the option in the settings:
You can decide how each desktop workspace shows the icons:
All icons will initially start out on your first desktop but you can move them to other desktops using the menu bar: