Blog Post

Make Spaces Hyper

I recently wrote about alternatives to Apple’s Spaces virtual desktop offering that comes included with Leopard. There, I confessed that I’ve come to appreciate the simplicity Spaces offers, though miss configuration options.

Well Hyperspaces is the forthcoming extension to Spaces and does well to fill the ‘configurability’ void that some of us pine for. Tony Arnold (who once upon a time provided Virtue Desktops) has been hard at work on Hyperspaces, and has kindly given me a chance to play around with it. I liken the relationship of Spaces and Hyperspaces to Starsky & Hutch — the former doing things by the book, the latter bringing some fun to the party.

When using Hyperspaces, you expand upon the features that Spaces offers. Gained is the ability to assign names to each of your desktops, display that name on your desktop in any font you choose, and on whatever portion of the screen you desire. Next, you can set your specific wallpaper for each different desktop, and you have the option to tint each desktop using the color palette (regardless of whether you choose custom wallpaper). As mentioned earlier, you can name your desktops, and on a desktop by desktop basis you can choose whether or not to display its name or not.

There are additional features, such as assignable hotkeys for adding rows and columns of additional spaces (desktops). Another hotkey shows a nice looking desktop pager off the menubar icon. This feature seems slightly useless for my personal needs (though it looks very nice!) because it only shows the wallpapers you have assigned — no actual open windows. Again, adding more features to the sparseness that is the vanilla Spaces.

What I really love about Hyperspaces is the polished look and ability to blend in with the rest of OS X. Tony has done a great job of mimicking the Spaces System Preferences Pane. By doing so, it’s very comfortable and makes it unnecessary to familiarize with a new user interface and how it may work. So if you know the Spaces Preference Pane, you’re set to configure Hyperspaces options.

This weekend marks the release of the Hyperspaces Public Preview. For you, this means it’s time to extend Spaces and hopefully make it more the way you want it to be. I have it on good authority that Hyperspaces will always allow you to customize the first 2 desktop spaces for free — it will never expire. Should you so desire to customize more than the first 2 desktops, it’ll cost you $12.95. I’m undecided if the price is right for the current set of functions — obviously your mileage may vary — but considering the great utility I got from Tony’s previous efforts with Virtue Desktops, I happily ponied up for Hyperspaces.

It’s new software, and isn’t without some small bugs, but Tony’s aware and working on it. From what I’ve observed, he’s been greatly responsive and added some nice features requested by early testers. So if you’re using Apple Spaces and wishing there was more to configure with your virtual desktop spaces, then look into Hyperspaces. The customizations are plentiful, and a great step in the right direction for leveraging Spaces.

9 Responses to “Make Spaces Hyper”

  1. Virtuedesktops was a favorite on Tiger for me, and it was popular at my school (we loved our visualboy advance games) but with leopard, we lost the transitions. Hyperspaces is pretty nice, but I am a cheap, cheap student. Sorry, Tony I don’t have a credit card to buy.

  2. Yea, I’m really liking Hyperspaces. It’s really handy to be able to give different spaces names, & it’s cool to be able to have different backgrounds in different spaces. There’s a delay changing backgrounds when switching spaces but I’m optomistic that this will be fixed in the future :)

  3. Thanks for the great review guys :)

    @Alex and @Nick – I’ll need to verify the behaviour of the transition/animation time flag – I’m pretty sure the public preview doesn’t currently use it (!). It certainly doesn’t entirely disable Spaces transition – that will come when I look at restoring the old Tiger-style transitions post-Hyperspaces 1.0.

  4. @Alex – yes and no. It’s not directly in the Hyperspaces Preferences. But there is an internal flag for the transition time (in seconds) that you can alter. The best way to do so is to use the Secrets preference pane from Blacktree (maker of Quicksilver). There’s a post about Secrets here on TheAppleBlog if you’re not familiar with it.

  5. Hobbes Doo

    I’m a big fan of Tony’s work and always used Virtue Desktops until Leopard came out.

    I’d like to see the following implemented in Hyperspace:

    – configurable transitions (if possible) just like we had them in Virtue, e.g. Cube, Slide, Dissolve, etc.

    – I would like to see a better transition between spaces when you have different wallpapers assigned to them – right now it first switches to the space and then you see the wallpaper change – I would love to see the wallpaper change more smoothly or even see the old one slide off and the new one slide in seamlessly (again, if possible – I’m not sure of the Spaces architecture or what APIs Hyperspace is using to make this happen.

    – it would be really cool to see a screenshot of each desktop in the switcher app, not only the wallpapers, though it looks really awesome

    That’s pretty much it. Just installed the preview version and it’s rock solid. Great work!