Dealing With Annoying Slide Animation in Spaces

UPDATE 12/23/2010: The fix below is deprecated. To disable the animation, enter the following in console:

defaults write com.apple.dock workspaces-swoosh-animation-off -bool YES && killall Dock

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This video shows VirtueDesktops running on Snow Leopard.

As somebody who came to Mac from a Linux background, Spaces never impressed me. It’s lacking very fundamental desktop-management features. There’s no workspace selection box in the Dock.

It becomes sluggish over (a very short) time. At first I thought my Mac was slowing down, but then I noticed that it only occurred when I switched spaces. The animation was choppy, and became choppier the longer my Macbook remained on.

You can’t disable the animation. In my search for a way to do this, I came across people complaining about this and requesting it as a feature since at least 2007. This seems like an obvious (and relatively straightforward) feature to implement. You can’t even hack the application to get it working. There are of course ways to mod or ‘hack’ the app itself to alter its behavior, but it doesn’t seem like the concern is worth the massive effort.

The animation makes people sick, it causes a headache, it’s not that impressive after awhile, it’s very confusing and disorienting. When it becomes sluggish, it causes me major irritability.

There are alternative apps you can use. Unfortunately, development stopped for all of these apps as soon as Leopard was released with Spaces. These apps were written for OS X 10.4 (Tiger), and so most don’t even work. Most of the ones that do, suck, but one does one. VirtueDesktops works on Snow Leopard (minus some features) good enough for daily use.

Press cmd+Space to bring up Spotlight, and search for “p spaces” and choose the first option, Expose & Spaces System Preferences. Uncheck “Enable Spaces” – all windows you had on inactive spaces will be merged onto your current space. Now open VirtueDesktop, and you’re pretty much set. Press alt + Tab to select a workspace, and viola – the change is instant. If you’d like to set shortcuts keys to jump directly to a workspace, or just want to check out the existing shortcuts, go to the Bindings page. Here, right click and choose the “Set Workspace ‘Main'” etc for each workspace you have, and double click the trigger column to set a shortcut key. I use ctrl + [1-4] and have my Caps Lock bound to Ctrl.

By default, the app has Main, Mail, Browsing, Code. To change these labels or add/remove workspaces, click the Virtue icon in your status menu and “Inspect Active Desktop” under the “Active Desktop” menu.

Space (not Spaces) – cannot set keys to switch to direct workspace

Virtue – Though it has many bugs, I still prefer using this to using Spaces.
Crashes when you go to inspect -> applications.

You cannot move windows between apps.

The frontmost app is given focus when you switch to that space, as opposed to
focus remaining on whatever app you last clicked.

if you quit, apps on other workspaces are not shown, gotta re-open Virtue to access those workspaces.

Sometimes the desktop will change on its own when you right click a Dock icon and hit “new window”

Virtue Tips:     

use shift + tab to show the desktop selection screen (pager) – this stays open.

use alt + tab to show overlay pager

Display window control crashes (alt + cmd + O)

cubicles – very broken. Does not work. asks you to create a new cubicle and then just slowly redraws the desktop and crashes