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OS X Leopard: Make Application visible on all Spaces

Mac OS X version 10.5 introduces Spaces, virtual workspaces that allow you to organize your applications into less cluttered desktops. I’ve always been a fan of the concept, and Apple’s implementation is the best I’ve used. While the idea of Spaces is to separate application windows into separate workspaces, there are a few apps that I’d like to live in every Space. This recipe describes making an application visible on all Spaces.


Once you have Spaces setup and configured to your liking, you can configure a specific application to appear on all Spaces through the System Preferences (the new gear-like icon in the dock or System Preferences… from the Apple pulldown menu at the top left of the screen).

I like to have my instant messaging application of choice (Adium now, although the new iChat has some great features that might make me swing back) visible on all windows primarily so that responding to a message doesn’t make me switch Spaces.

To make it appear on all Spaces, click Expose and Spaces in the System Prefences. Click the Spaces tab at the top of that window if it is not already selected. Under the representation of your spaces is an area labeled Application Assignments. Click the + plus symbol under this area.

A filesystem browser window will slide down and place you in the Applications folder. Scroll through this window, possibly navigating away from the Applications folder in order to find the application you want. In my case, I found Adium in the list, clicked it to select, and clicked Add.

Your application will appear in the list of Application Assignments with a default location of Space 1. At this point you can specify the Space in which this application will always open by default (pretty slick just on it’s own) by clicking on the Space selection and picking the desired Space or, if you select Every Space, as shown below, your application will live everywhere.

Sometimes it is only necessary to have an application visible in all Spaces for a limited period of time. To remove the “Savoir Faire is everywhere!” application configuration, just click on the application in the Application Assignments area and click the – minus symbol below it.

Quinn McHenry
Quinn McHenry
Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.
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