i was really frustrated not being able to rename the desktops as well but i do have an alternative answer to labeling the desktops. I figured just using the stickies and typing in a label in large font and placing it in each desktop. It's not much but it'll do for now. Hope this satisfies in some way.
tmend, I took a very similar approach to yours, one step further:
Using Xcode I hacked and kludged a Cocoa app to do only this: open a window and display, in very large type, the name of the application. ("ItsMe.app" displays "ItsMe" in 144 point type.) Then I cloned this app 9 times so I have 10 distinct apps -- the maximum number of desktops I expect to ever need. Call these "marker apps".
I can change the name of each marker ap freely: for example I can rename "Itsme4.app" to "Web Dev.app", launch it, then assign that to the workspace in which I do Web work. Nice side effect: the marker app icon sits in the Dock and displays its own name on mouse-over. I can line up all such apps in the Dock and pick one to switch to the workspace I want -- the most efficient way to navigate among desktops I've found yet.
Also very helpful is that all this setup is automagically re-created by MacOS 10.7 after a reboot, so I no longer feel so bad about my weekly site maintenance shutdown. Getting back to work is _much_ easier now.
Main imperfections: In Mission Control, the marker app windows, as large as they are, still sometimes are partly or fully obscured when MC draws the desktop thumbnails. Then in any particular desktop, often the marker app window gets in the way, but only momentarily.
In sum: it would still be preferable to have a way to rename the desktops. I'd be happy with an Applescript i/f to do it. While I'm making a wish list: I think it would be good to have a way of telling at a glance which desktop is currently active, maybe by displaying its name --user-specified, of course-- at the top center of the screen, in the menu bar.
re: "If you run an application in full screen mode..." I assume you are referring to those new 10.7 apps that implement full screen mode, yes?"
That mode doesn't seem useful for my work flow/style so I've never tried it.
Does anyone know if the latest Xcode enables user-built apps to support full screen mode?
update: I tried full screen mode --for the first time-- with Safari. I see now that taking an app into that mode opens a completely new desktop/workspace named "Safari", which disappears when I exit full screen mode. It is completely independent of the desktop/workspace to which I had Safari assigned.
My thought was this: if launching an app into full screen mode updated the desktop/workspace label, and the new name "sticks", then there's a chance that launching dummy apps could be used routinely to label desktops/workspaces. Alas, the name doesn't apply a the current workspace and doesn't "stick", so this looks like a dead end.
As for the second point: I found a sample application ("GLFullScreen") for Xcode that demos full screen mode, but switching to the full screen mode of that app does not work the same way as Safari. It does not create a new desktop/workspace at all. This may be a pre-10.7 demo, i.e., a different "full screen mode". Since this approach seems hopeless, I'm not going to investigate this further.
So, thus far, it seems that there's simply no way for a user to name desktops/workspaces in 10.7.2. Maybe in 10.7.3...
While this isn't perfect, I did find a solution that's fairly easy. First I created custome backgrounds for each desktop with the application icon and added some text. I then used System Prefferences to assign the background to the desktop I wanted to use for the application.
Next I launched the application and moved it to the correct desktop. Finally I set the application options to assign the application to only use that desktop.
This really help me now because it's easy to find the correct desktop now. If the application is not running I can tell which desktops are "reservered" for Photoshop or Illustrator. I can also quickly find my Dreamweaver desktop because for some reason Dreamweave does not give me a preview of the open windows when it's open. I'm always guessing which desktop it's on when switching between application.
As I said, it's not perfect but it's simple to set up and it works for my workflow. Hope this helps someone.
I looked for a built-in text-to-JPEG utility that would allow the desktop picture(s) to be made up with useful strings (as you show) but I didn't think of adding icons. In other words, I think at least some of what you did could be at least partly automated. I didn't find any text-to-JPG utility built in to MacOS. I think ImageMagick would work, but I don't want to require adding anything to MacOS to make this work. Since this required component isn't available, I didn't try to take this any further.
In addition, based on my experience described earlier in this thread using null apps, one per space, to label the workspaces/desktops, I've just about decided that the desktop isn't really the place for such labels, either the background or any normal window above that. These simply get lost when the desktop gets busy. (A floating window might do the trick, but I've never tried it. I'm guessing that would have problems, too.) I'm hoping there's an independent place for an indicator of what desktop/workspace is currently active, say, maybe dead-center in the Menu Bar -- or just to the left of the Sherlock magnifying glass at right in the menu bar.
Has anyone checked 10.7.3 for additional scripting related to workspaces/desktops? Anything new in the recent release of Xcode?
I agree with you, and I want similar labels. Only Apple can make it possible to label the Desktop/Workspaces to something other than "Desktop 1", "Desktop 2" ... etc. etc. in Mission Control. They need to add system "hooks" and/or supply some kind of control interface, e.g. a Control Panel. Until Apple does that, those of us who want better labels are kind of stuck.
Dakoda's desktop picture idea is a reasonable workaround. I've been experimenting with another approach, but it is kind of kludgy and requires getting into tekkie-gory-details: using Xcode I created a series of applications that do nothing more than open a new window and display their own name there in a Really Large font. I named one of them "Web Work.app" . I launch that and I assign it to Desktop 2. Now, in Mission Control, if not too many other windows are open in that Desktop/Workspace and I'm lucky, I can clearly see the text "Web Work" within the grey rectangle that's labeled "Desktop 2". This generally works well with the new 10.7 "Resume" feature. After restarting, all the label apps are reopened in the correct workspaces. Occasionally, for reasons I cannot fathom, of about 9 Desktop/Workspaces I routinely maintain, one or two will fall to be restored after a system restart.
I think there may be a way to do something similar by making stand-alone apps using AppleScript, or it might be possible to use any app capable of displaying large text.
If you run an application in full screen mode, Spaces will automatically rename the space to the name of the full screen app.
That's what I have been doing since last July. Absolutely love Mission Control. Forgotten all about Spaces now. But I agree, a choice to rename the desktops would be a nice feature in Mountain Lion, or the next.
Just tried running the application in full screen mode and it does work. Thanks for that.
What I can't understand though is why, if you go to the Apple website and check the Lion OS X package, the photo that appears is that of a MacBook Air and you can see that under each desktop icon, there is the name of the specific desktop. From that picture, one could be lead to believe that it is possible to rename the desktops. Although using an application in full screen puts an icon on it and the name appears when you pass your pointer over one particular desktop, the names don't appear as they do on the Apple website.
Tantalizing! It would be great if we could rename our workspaces/desktops.
I'm not sure what you are looking at, but I found this image on the MacOS X What is page, here which shows (left to right) workspaces/desktops named (1) Dashboard, (2) Desktop, (3) iPhoto, (4) Mail, (5) Calendar, with the notation
Full-screen apps and your desktops appear at the top of Mission Control.
Is this what you have in mind?
All those are the names of full-screen capable 10.7.x apps, yes? So I guess selecting one of those would get you to the full screen view of the corresponding app. Conspicuously missing from this example is a user-defined workspace/desktop, yes?
Note: I don't use full-screen mode at all, so I'm really not quite clear on this.
I'd label this "harmless marketing puffer." Sadly, I think the Apple marketing people generating this page felt a bit embarrassed about including one named rather uselessly, "Desktop 3" or similar. I agree! I can't blame them for generating the most positive image; that's their job. But I don't have to like the omission of a way to change the names of user-defined workspace/desktops. I don't!
Here's hoping there will be an improvement in 10.8.
I agree it would be practical and efficient to have named Desktops. The fact that we don't is another frustration with Lion. Much was changed from Snow Leopard and for lots of those changes I don't see a great deal of rationale. Yet there things that could have been done to benefit workflow and those changes weren't made.
Support for naming desktops/workspaces could simply be really low on the master priority list -- or it is being delayed until some other, possibly seemingly irrelevant tech stuff gets done.
I think there's also this: No one really knows how to do this stuff, make it really easy for non-technical users to manage multiple desktops/workspaces, functional groups of application windows. It isn't clear to me how one could provide an easy, consistent, widely-acceptable, and completely confusion-proof User Interface (UI) for users to modify the labels. So, for the moment, I'm willing to accept the clunky labeling we've got.
Mission Control is a unique, special mode of UI operation, unlike any other. At the moment, while Mission Control is active, there's no provision for text input at all. Did Apple forget this possibillity -- or rule it out? I'm guessing they tried various possibilities, but all of them came up short.
Would you be happy with a new Control Panel that presented the current names of the desktops/workspaces as a list of editable text? I think I would, but I can guess that many more people would be unhappy, starting with the fact the CP couldn't be active while Mission Control is in (sorry) control.
For what it is worth, I feel the general trend is positive. My workflow has benefited since 10.6. Being able to name desktop/workspaces isn't essential to good getting value from Mission Control. Replacing a clunky labeling system with an annoying method of changing the labels would be a step backward, in my view.
All that said, yeah, I wish Apple would at least provide a system call for re-labeling. Maybe in 10.8...