Taking OS X Spaces to the Next Level With Hyperspaces

Hyperspaces is a handy little add-on to the already useful Spaces virtual desktop tool built in to Mac OS. The developer says it “brings color and context to Apple’s Spaces” and I’d say that sums it up just about right. It doesn’t add a lot, but it adds in just the right places.

Today we’ll be delving into Hyperspaces to explain how the app works, and what type of improvement in can bring to your existing Spaces setup!

Installation

The installation of Hyperspaces is incredibly simple. As is common in the software industry today, the developer of the utility does offer a trial version so you can try it out without forking up the cash for the full blown license. The trial version is essentially a stripped down version as you would expect. I’ll explain this more later on.

Overview

Hyperspaces is an addition to a particularly powerful Mac OS X utility called Spaces (I know…who would have guessed?) Spaces alone is great and incredibly helpful for organizing the workspaces of your computer.

If you’re not familiar, Spaces is a utility built in to Mac OS X which essentially allows you to “segment” your desktop. It allows you to create separate virtual desktops. You are able to assign specific applications to certain spaces. The idea being to clear up some of the clutter in our multi-tasking, trying-to-do-it-all lives.

Hyperspaces definitely isn’t a groundbreaking piece of software. That innovation took place a level above with the incorporation of Spaces itself into the Mac OS X. That said, I’d qualify it as a “nice” piece of software. It fills in some little gaps with the functionality and style of the “stock” Spaces and also adds some niceties to the experience.

Features

Hyperspaces adds welcome, though not entirely necessary, feature enhancements to the overall Spaces experience.

It sits on top of the Spaces utility and is actually not functional without it. The core functionality still lies with the Mac OS X Spaces.

Labeling

A fairly major area of enhancement comes with a better method for labeling and identifying the spaces. With Spaces you are essentially restricted to system generated names for the spaces you create (Space 1, Space 2, etc.)

Hyperspaces allows you to name each space as you see fit. The label can be shown in several places (see the screenshot below) and these can be adjusted within the system preferences. Though not completely necessary it is a nice little detail and does make Spaces a little more user friendly.

A view of possible places to see space labels

A view of possible places to see space labels

Backgrounds

The ability to use a different background image is helpful in making Spaces more simple to navigate through and identify a large number of spaces.

Hyperspaces also allows you to use colors so it is possible to just add different hues to one background image as well. This is a nice touch that helps to create some separation and differentiation between spaces.

Function

Hyperspaces ramps up the shortcut key preference options. These are all customizable and can really make the use of a bunch of spaces pretty darn efficient. Again, the basic Spaces does have this capability, but Hyperspaces expands it somewhat.

Hotkey preferences

Hotkey preferences

The addition of being able to chose shortcut keys to add and remove spaces is really the only enhancement in this area and, to be honest, I don’t personally find those that useful. I just don’t see a scenario when I’ll have the the need to add or remove a space that quickly, but maybe some users will.

The whole concept of Spaces, I would argue, is a one that requires some thought and planning. You are trying to figure out ways to better organize and aren’t going to make these choices in the spur of the moment.

Menu Bar Switching

Hyperspaces adds a space switcher function to the menu bar. This switcher will display the name of the space and also the background image of the space as well (both preferences that can be turned on and off).

Again, the stock Spaces does have similar functionality, but this switcher is a far more user friendly option to visually switch between spaces.

A view of the Spaces switcher

A view of the Spaces switcher

Pricing

Hyperspaces can be used for free, but not with full functionality. The trial version restricts usage to the capability to fully customize three spaces. With the core functionality being in Spaces (which you will need to install Hyperspaces) the trial version offers plenty of functionality to get a feel for the product, but it is not something you’re going to use for an extended period of time.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you’re a Spaces user looking for some of these enhancements you will have the need for more than three spaces. The full version is $12.95 and allows you to fully customize as many spaces as you would like.

Conclusion

I think the main issue is to figure out whether it is worth the cost for you personally. I know it’s not a lot of money, but the value with Hyperspaces is very personal. It’s not one of those pieces of software that everyone is going to go out and purchase.

If you are an avid Spaces user, you will know whether the features Hyperspaces brings to the table will be useful to you or not. If the features strike a cord with you then it is absolutely worth the cost. If you’re not sure, then you’re probably fine without it.

Plain and simple, Hyperspaces is an add-on, or enhancement as I’ve been calling it, to the virtual desktop Mac OS tool Spaces. It adds some solid, very handy customization options and ultimately makes Spaces more user friendly and probably even a bit more functional.

Is it a must have? Probably not. But to the right individual Hyperspaces is just what they’re looking for.


Summary

Hyperspaces works with Apple’s Spaces to let you customize each Space so that it’s recognisably different from the others. It does this through a set of great visual decorations, including desktop backgrounds, colours, and labels.

7
  • wowo_steve

    In fact, the preference pane “Warp” did most of Hyperspace’s job. The wallpaper and labelling thing is not that important.

  • http://slightlyinsightful.com/ Ammon

    I’ve been using and loving Hyperspaces for what seems like ages. It has really found a nice home for itself on my desktop.

  • http://www.ragunaru.com Ragnar

    I just bought Hyperspaces a few weeks back. The only main reason was to have different background images for different spaces, and it does it just fine (wanted jQuery cheatsheet as the background on my work Space, yays!).

  • Sean Sykes

    The introduction of tabbed windows in CS4 ‘broke’ Spaces. I haven’t tried Hyperspaces but I assume having an issue at the core does not change anything.

  • http://simplyblog.net Miguel Wickert

    I’ve been using Hyperspaces for a while now, love it. It has found a way into the way I work on my mac, period.

  • dave poore

    What do you guys think about this versus the new enhancements that Lion will bring with it to spaces? I am pretty sure that in Lion you can change the backgrounds at least.

  • http://synthetictone-media.com Synthetic Tone

    Sad that even though it works on OSX 10.5, you can only use the demo on this system because without App Store support on pre-10.6, it doesn’t appear you can buy the app. I bet App Store would have more sales if it supported more of the older operating systems.

    • http://synthetictone-media.com Synthetic Tone

      Ok… my mistake. I do see that I can purchase the app through it’s preferences without App Store.

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