Assign Apps to All Spaces – Mountain Lion


A short and sweet tip on How to Assign Apps to All Spaces in Mountain Lion (probably will work on Lion too). I was (and still are) a big fan of Spaces since it’s was first released in 2006 (you can watch a video of Steve introducing it here). I had this very nice and organized working workflow ever since:

  • Space 1: Creative Suite, Macromedia Freehand (just on my Snow Leopard station)
  • Space 2: Mail and iWork
  • Space 3: iTunes and iPhoto
  • Space 4: TextWrangler, Transmit and CSS Edit/Espresso.

But, throughout all the spaces, I would always have Finder, Twitterrific, Adium, Skype and Stattoo. This way if I changed spaces I could still have the same windows open from the Finder or my current chat with a client active without a glitch. I’m telling you, saves some time! Fast Forward to 2012. I upgrade my MacBook Pro, so it now runs not Lion but Mountain Lion. I get Mission Control:

Mission Control

I start working my way through the new system. Ok, it takes a bit to get used to. Not only Mission Control, but little things like iCal getting renamed to Calendar and Address Book to Contacts – but I work it… Except that when I’m switching from Space to Space I can’t take Adium, Skype, Stattoo or the Finder with me. Really a bummer really, I am used to do this for years and it does speed things up a bit. I try going to the System Preferences  panel to look for a little light but no luck. Where can I assign Apps to Spaces? I ask myself…

Mission Control System Prefs

Then, one night where I was working late I found it! It is now a but hidden… If you right click a Dock Icon with more than one “desktop” space available, you get a menu that has (at least) these items: Options, Show All Windows, Hide, Quit. If you click on Options, you can see that there’s an Assign To item. And there it is: All Desktops. Order is restored in the universe!

Tadah - Assing to All Desktops


  1. This is really fantastic. I cannot thank you enough. Talk about over-engineering… what was wrong with keeping this in prefs!?

  2. Glad you found this post helpful!

  3. Arrg! Thanks for finding and sharing this, and I’m pissed at Apple for arbitrarily changing the location of a command. Microsoft does this all the time, famously and rightly gets grief for it. Why is this so much better than the old way? And why not allow multiple ways to do this? Can I get a contextual menu someday? LOL Thanks again.

    • You’re welcome Rich! It took some time for me to figure it out, but the command is there. Plus, this new OS setup works better with a single screen workflow! I do miss my 4 screens/spaces like before.


  4. I was using the multiple desktops feature on my MBA which was amazing for a single screen. On my work computer, I have 3 screens however, 2 of which are used for server monitoring applications, so when I switched desktops with the quick 4-fingers swipe, I would lose them! Now though, that’s to your enlightenment, I can keep the other two screens essentially static, while quickly swapping full screen browsers and editors on my main one! Thanks!

  5. Unfortunately, not all apps have spaces related dock options. Dash, for example. I’m assuming it has something to do with the app primarily being shortcut-triggered and not having a main application window.

    Sigh. Continuing the search for how to set Dash to open on all spaces…

    • I get the idea that Notes and Stickies also don’t have the desktop options. Is this the same problem you’re seeing with dash?

      Have you found any way around this? I’d try the terminal command if I knew how to set it back to the previous setting, in case something gets screwed up.

      • Hi John!
        Both Notes and Stickies apps can be assigned to One or All Spaces with the method I explained above. Now, if you’re referring to the Stickes from the Dashboard, you can’t assign them to a specific desktop or to all, since you can call up the Dashboard from any space or desktop available.

      • This is peculiar. I mentioned Stickies and Notes specifically because they do not show the “Assign To” menu option. I *do* see this option for every other app in the dock, be it from Apple or a 3rd party. I’m running a fully updated 10.8.3 MacBook Air.

        Do you really see the “Assign To” menu option on your system?

        • John, the Options menu will not work on Shortcut Icons. I dragged the Notes and Stickies applications from my Applications folder to the Dock, and had no issues. Just make sure they’re not Shortcuts, and you should be good to go.

        • Hi John!
          Just as Nathaniel said, you need to work if you’ve dragged the icons from the Applications folder to the dock or you’ve checked “Keep in Dock” once you’ve opened the apps. Plus, one more thing, you need to have an additional Desktop set on Mission Control for the menu option “Assign Yo” to show up.

          Hope this helps :)

  6. OK, super amazingly painful method:

    /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c “Add :app-bindings:com.kapeli.dash string AllSpaces” ~/Library/Preferences/

    …which may or may not require a killall Dock. Funny enough, after writing this preference, Dash now has a full options menu in the dock and spaces preferences can be set as normal.

    • Thanks for your feedback Travis! That method does look painful, but glad that you won’t have to use it anymore now that Dash has all the options available!

      ~ Kitty

  7. About half of my apps do not have this option, and I’m not sure why. There is the option for *some* apps to do this, but not other. For example, I can’t assign iPhoto to a particular space or a 3rd party app “MP4 Tools”, but I can assign safari and chrome to different spaces.

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