SaneDesk: Empower Your Mac Desktop

If you’re anything like me (hopefully you aren’t), your computer is a complete and total mess. The desktop is cluttered, the dock crowded (there are 34 applications in mine!), and keeping work and personal projects organised and separated was a well-intentioned but unrealised goal from the past!

SaneDesk is a very small app that enables you to create separate workspaces (desktop, dock, wallpaper) according to what you’re doing on your computer. It’s a simple concept, but aims to help you better distinguish between the various tasks you use your computer for.

Read on to find out more in today’s review!

Getting Started

This was the first time I’ve ever received a warning before downloading software… The SaneDesk website provides the following caution:

The SaneDesk Promise

The SaneDesk Promise

What a promise! Let’s explore the set-up process, and see the difference SaneDesk makes to my OS 10.5+ sanity.

Design and Interface

SaneDesk sits unobtrusively in the menu bar. From here you set-up your desktops – four as standard, or an unlimited desktops if you choose to pay for a registered version of SaneDesk. This costs $15.95, and also gives you the ability to rename an delete desktops.

The Menu Bar Interface

The Menu Bar Interface

The preferences are light – appropriately so for a bite-sized app. These can be a bit temperamental, and several times during my testing the preferences pane wouldn’t launch at all. There are four hot keys available, and you can select whether you’d like each desktop to use separate settings (or alternatively, use the same settings for the dock, desktop or wallpaper, for all desktops)




Setting up SaneDesk is a very straightforward affair – explained in five steps on the website. This can essentially be broken down into two actual steps:

  1. Open SaneDesk, and select a desktop, for example, ‘Play’.
  2. Customise the look and feel of your ‘Play’ workspace:
    • Change the wallpaper.
    • Rearrange the dock.
    • Add or remove applications from the dock.

Desktop Icon Options

Desktop Icon Options

If you use your desktop as a respository for all your working files, it won’t take long for your desktop to get cluttered. When you’re not working (and don’t want to think about work), a messy desktop is an unnecessary reminder of work that is yet to be done.

One of the useful features of SaneDesk is the ability to customise desktops for each set-up, and show or hide icons as desired. Set this up as required for each desktop, and escape the guilt and stress as the clutter disappears from sight. You can even specify which icons are viewable on each desktop – a very handy feature.

How Could You Use SaneDesk?

Example 1. Perhaps you’re working on several projects at once. Create a custom desktop for each project – selecting the applications you need for each project, and the files and folders relevant to each project that you’d like visible on the project’s desktop. You could even impress your client (when they come to see you) and use a custom wallpaper with their background on the desktop for their project!

Example 2. Perhaps you’re a freelancer, and you want to keep your work and play separate so that your time on the computer isn’t a constant reminder of overdue deadlines. Keep your work-related files, folders and applications in one desktop, and everything that’s fun (or at least not related to work!) on another desktop.

Example 3. Perhaps you’re a parent. Create a custom desktop for you, and one for your kids – to give them access to the folders, files and applications you need (and restrict their access to what they don’t need to see or use). Another option to achieve this objective is to harness the Parental Controls that come built into each Mac.

Comparison to Other Apps

SaneDesk is similar to Spaces – but with some additional functionality. Spaces lets you create multiple desktops, and select which applications you’d like available in each desktop. SaneDesk has some additional functionality that Spaces doesn’t provide, namely:

  • The ability to name desktops
  • The ability to customise the dock and wall paper for each desktop
  • The ability to hide or show icons on each desktop

SaneDesk doesn’t seek to compete with Spaces, instead it sees itself as a complement to it:

“Imagine spaces as one layer that helps you work, SaneDesk as another. They work together nicely.”


A similar app is Hyperspaces, which comes in at AU$12.95:



Hyperspaces is a turbo-charged version of Spaces, and in my opinion, a slicker alternative to SaneDesk. Hyperspaces has much of the same functionality – e.g. the ability to name desktops, show/hide desktop icons, as well as some aesthetic options, including the ability to determine how to transition from one desktop to another. Hyperspaces also offers hotkeys – 13 in fact (compared with the 4 that SaneDesk offers), to customise and streamline the experience.


SaneDesk is $15.95 – perhaps a little pricey for a utility app, although this depends on how much you value your sanity and the desktop clutter that SaneDesk can reorganise for you!

If you have multiple projects on the go, or you use your computer for a combination or work and play, you’ll appreciate the separation and customisation SaneDesk provides.


SaneDesk is a very small app that enables you to create separate workspaces (desktop, dock, wallpaper) according to what you’re doing on your computer. It's easy to set up, easy to use, and is a great time saver.