10 Replies Latest reply: Jul 29, 2015 10:02 PM by refuserefuse
jgl777 Level 1 (0 points)

I've long appreciated the spaces/mission control feature of OS X. However, it seems more oriented to organizing desktops by application rather than by project.


Like many users, I suspect, I use different desktops for different projects, each of which requires a variety of applications (finder, word docs, spreadsheets, etc). When I'm working on project 1 in desktop 1, I never want to be whisked away to desktop 2. In fact, I never want to be switched to a different desktop automatically. If I click on an application, I want it to open a new window for that application. If a new iteration of an app can't be opened (ie, Mail), I'd like it to pull Mail to me rather than send me off to it. Aren't apps supposed to come when we call, not the other way around?


I have unchecked "...switch to a space with open windows of that application" in System Prefences, but my desktop continues to auto-switch, especially with Finder.


In short: is there a way disable auto-switching entirely? I'd like to be able to assign windows and navigate manually without being constantly pulled away from the project I'm working on.


Thanks for the help; I really appreciate people spending their time helping others on forums like this one.

OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3)
  • MiiCK Level 1 (120 points)

    One thing I do is just set one Desktop as my 'Research' Desktop, so I have Desktop 1 as my 'Aperture' Desktop, Desktop 2 is for chatting with friends, and Desktop 3 is for Researching, ie opening finder windows etc, so I set what apps I frequently use to open on this particular Desktop like this..




    Other than that, no idea. Good luck on finding a more relevant answer.

  • Eric Root Level 9 (50,458 points)

    Try setting up another admin user account to see if the same problem continues. If Back-to-My Mac is selected in System Preferences, the Guest account will not work. The intent is to see if it is specific to one account or a system wide problem. This account can be deleted later.


    Isolating an issue by using another user account


    If the problem is still there, try booting into the Safe Mode.  Shut down the computer and then power it back up. Immediately after hearing the startup chime, hold down the shift key and continue to hold it until the gray Apple icon and a progress bar appear. The boot up is significantly slower than normal. This will reset some caches, forces a directory check, and disables all startup and login items, among other things. If the system operates normally, there may be 3rd party applications which are causing a problem. Try deleting/disabling the third party applications after a restart. For each disable/delete, you will need to restart if you don't do them all at once.


    Safe Mode


    Safe Mode - About


    General information.


    Isolating issues in Mac OS X


    Troubleshooting Permission Issues



    Step by Step to Fix Your Mac

  • jgl777 Level 1 (0 points)

    I found my answer here:




    You must enter these Terminal commands:


    defaults write com.apple.dock workspaces-auto-swoosh -bool NO

    then restarting the Dock using the following command:

    killall Dock


    It says this is the solution for Leopard, but worked for me on 10.8.3


    Thank you, Dr. Hoard, thank you!

  • jaybe1021 Level 1 (0 points)

    I used this, but then I realized if I click on an application in the dock, the desktop will no longer auto-switch.  I wish there was an in-between solution, where it wouldn't involuntarily autoswitch, but would when I want it to.  To undo the change, I used the same script with a YES instead of NO:


    defaults write com.apple.dock workspaces-auto-swoosh -bool YES

    then restarting the Dock using the following command:

    killall Dock


    also using 10.8.3

  • jman995 Level 1 (0 points)

    There's a easier solution (if I'm reading the OP's post correctly).

    Go to System Preferences/Mission Control and uncheck the box that says "When swithching applications, switch to another space with open windows for that application."




    Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 3.14.28 PM.jpg


    P.S. I'm running 10.8.4

  • jgl777 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the reply, but this option was not working on either of my Macs, both running the most current version of OSX (the problem persisted across updates). I had to use the script I posted above.

  • jgl777 Level 1 (0 points)

    I agree that I wish there were an in-between solution.


    E.g. click on app:

    - If the app is running with no windows open in any desktop, open new window

    - If the app is running with window(s) open in other desktop, either (and the option would be nice) move most recently used window to current desktop, or open new window.


    Also, it'd be nice to have a "send back" feature, like minimze but instead of sending it to the dock, send it to the desktop whence it came. E.g., if you're running Spotify and just want to change the song or something, click on it in the dock, the app window zips to current desktop, click it again (or a hotkey) and it zips back to the desktop where it was before.


    I can understand switching desktops if you're switching projects, but I can't understand it as default functionality; it's like moving your desk chair in front of the paper you want instead of just reaching over and picking up the paper.

  • abojorges Level 1 (0 points)

    This solved it for me, too! Thanks!

  • refuserefuse Level 1 (0 points)

    Oh man.  A thousand thanks!  I am elated to find a solution.  The switching is so annoying.  Defeats the purpose of space entirely in my opinion but Apple acts like it is a helpful feature and the ostensible setting for it does nothing to stop the switching or if it actually works like it is supposed toopens a new iteration of a program off screen in another space. In other words both useless options. 

  • refuserefuse Level 1 (0 points)

    Also not reading the OPs correctly, jman995.  Even if it works, on or off it is not a solution to the described problem.