Macworld Masterclass: How to master Mission Control

Make the most of this supercharged feature with these expert tips

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  • controlmain Intro
  • control01 Step 1: Starting your mission
  • control02 Step 2: Create desktops
  • control03 Step 3: Navigating desktops
  • control04 Step 4: Assign programs to desktops
  • control05 Step 5: Reset Resume behaviour
  • control06 Step 6: New desktop from an application
  • control07 Step 7: Full-screen mode
  • control08 Step 8: Choose applications
  • control09 Step 9: Have a quick look
  • control10 Step 10: Application Windows mode
  • control11 Step 11: Running apps
  • control12 Step 12: Selecting desktops
  • control13 Step 13: Active Exposé shortcuts
  • control14 Step 14: Tweaking shortcuts
  • control15 Step 15: Quick desktop navigation
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Intro

Exposé was a tool that helped you find the document you wanted among the clutter of programs and windows you had open. Spaces helped you to tidy up your virtual desktop with multiple, dedicated screens.

They’ve now been combined as Mission Control in Lion. We’ve been playing with Mission Control both with and without Multi-Touch trackpads. As we’ll be taking a look at swiping and gestures in Lion at a later date, our Mission Control tips here are primarily aimed at those users still reliant on keyboard and mouse. Follow these  Mission Control shortcuts, tweaks and tips and you’ll become a master Mission Control user in no time at all.

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Next Prev controlmain

Exposé was a tool that helped you find the document you wanted among the clutter of programs and windows you had open. Spaces helped you to tidy up your virtual desktop with multiple, dedicated screens.

They’ve now been combined as Mission Control in Lion. We’ve been playing with Mission Control both with and without Multi-Touch trackpads. As we’ll be taking a look at swiping and gestures in Lion at a later date, our Mission Control tips here are primarily aimed at those users still reliant on keyboard and mouse. Follow these  Mission Control shortcuts, tweaks and tips and you’ll become a master Mission Control user in no time at all.

 

Step 2 of 16: Step 1: Starting your mission

You can open Mission Control by clicking the icon in the Dock, or you can launch it quickly using Control-up arrow. You can return to the desktop in a number of ways too. Using Control-down arrow will work, as will clicking Escape. Hitting F11 while in Mission Control does the same thing.

 

Step 3 of 16: Step 2: Create desktops

Mission Control is all about creating multiple desktops to manage your virtual workspace. To make a new desktop, hold down the Option key and click the plus sign that appears – or hover the cursor in the top-right corner. While holding down the Option key, you can delete old desktops too.

 

Step 4 of 16: Step 3: Navigating desktops

There are several ways to get around multiple desktops. Use Control-left arrow or Control-right arrow to flick between them, or combine Control with a number key to navigate to the numbered space. Remember Control-1 takes you to the Dashboard, so Control-2 takes you to desktop 1 (and so on).

 

Step 5 of 16: Step 4: Assign programs to desktops

Control-click (or right-click) on an application in the Dock and select Options > Assign To to choose which desktop to open that application in. Assigning it to All Desktops means it will appear in every workspace. Select This Desktop to assign it to the current one or pick one from the list.

 

Step 6 of 16: Step 5: Reset Resume behaviour

Not only will the application run on the chosen desktop during the current session, the next time you open it, the application will open on the target desktop, thanks to Lion’s Resume feature. You can reset this by going back to the Options > Assign To menu for the application and selecting None.

 

Step 7 of 16: Step 6: New desktop from an application

Here’s a quick way to add applications to new desktops. In Mission Control, click and hold on either an application window or icon. Drag this to the top- right corner of the screen and a plus sign will appear. Drop the item onto it and a new desktop will be created containing the application.

 

Step 8 of 16: Step 7: Full-screen mode

One of the great features of Lion is that many applications can be used in full-screen mode. Start by launching the application you want to save at full-screen mode on a new desktop. Then go to full-screen mode using Control-Cmd-F. You’ve done it – Application Resume takes care of the rest.

 

Step 9 of 16: Step 8: Choose applications

It’s easy enough to select application windows in Mission Control with a Magic Trackpad. In fact, Lion is built for Multi-Touch, so that’s a given. But if you’re stuck using the mouse and keyboard, you can start typing the title of the window to select an application. A few letters are all you need.

 

Step 10 of 16: Step 9: Have a quick look

With the focus on an application or file in Mission Control, hit the space bar to use Quick Look to view its content, just like applications in the Finder. It’s handy for bringing hidden windows forwards in the stack. If an application is minimised in the Dock, this shortcut will make it pop up to full-window size.

 

Step 11 of 16: Step 10: Application Windows mode

In Mission Control, you can press ‘ (apostrophe) to enter Application Windows mode, which brings focus to individual running windows. You can navigate from one application to another by pressing Tab to go forwards or ‘ to go back. If you hit a blank screen, it’s an empty desktop – fill it.

 

Step 12 of 16: Step 11: Running apps

By the way, in Application Windows mode you can still call up the active application strip with Cmd-Tab. Holding down the Cmd key, you Tab forwards or hit the ‘ key to go backwards and select running applications. We think that’s a quicker way to cycle through your applicationss. But the other method is fine too.

 

Step 13 of 16: Step 12: Selecting desktops

When you navigate between various desktops in Mission Control, then select the one you want, Mission Control quits. To avoid that, hold down the Option key when you select a desktop. This also enables you to drag and drop applications between desktops for faster sorting and organisation.

 

Step 14 of 16: Step 13: Active Exposé shortcuts

A couple of the old Exposé shortcuts will still work in Lion. In Mission Control, F11 still goes to the current desktop and F12 opens the Dashboard. If clicking these keys doesn’t work on your keyboard, try combining them with the Function key. Finally, F11 still clears the desktop.

 

Step 15 of 16: Step 14: Tweaking shortcuts

In Lion, it’s now really simple to edit, disable or create shortcuts. Open System Preferences and go to Keyboard. Select the Keyboard Shortcuts tab and choose Mission Control from the list. The default keyboard shortcuts will be shown. You can disable any of them by unticking the box to their left.

 

Step 16 of 16: Step 15: Quick desktop navigation

At the bottom of the list you’ll see shortcuts labelled Switch to Desktop 1 , Switch to Desktop 2, and so on. You can change any of these, but if there’s a desktop you use regularly, these are the entries you need to edit. For example, you might launch your default desktop with Control-Option-D.

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