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Dig deep into Lion: The best overlooked, underrated features

Ryan Faas | Jan. 30, 2012
Apple billed this summer's release of Mac OS X Lion as having more than 200 new features, but most coverage of Lion in the intervening months has focused on only a handful of them. While iOS-like navigation and app-launching interfaces, autosave/restore capabilities, AirDrop file sharing and an emergency restore partition are by all means important, there are a lot of helpful tweaks and enhancements that can easily be missed.

Finally, it's possible to assign a custom desktop picture to each space defined by Mission Control so that separate spaces are easy to locate while you're working. To assign a picture to a space, select that space (either using Mission Control or multi-finger swiping) and then select a desktop picture in one of the following ways:

  • Use the Desktop & Screensaver pane in System Preferences.
  • Use iPhoto's Share menu.
  • Right-click on an image file in the Finder and click Set Desktop Picture.
  • Right-click an image in Safari and select Use as Desktop Picture.

In addition to assigning different desktop pictures to specific spaces, you can also assign applications to specific spaces. Typically, new application windows open in whatever space or desktop you're using when you launch the app or create a new document.

However, you can assign an application to open new windows in a specific space or to display windows in every space, making them permanently visible as you switch from one space to another (useful for apps that you may need to adjust or check frequently such as social media clients, network or system monitoring tools, or apps that function as media controllers).

To assign an application to a specific space, navigate to that space and right-click on the application's icon in the Dock to bring up a contextual menu. Select the Options submenu and choose This Desktop or All Desktops. To return an app to its default behavior, use the same process but select None.

Ryan Faas is a freelance writer and technology consultant specializing in Mac and multiplatform network issues. He has been a Computerworld columnist since 2003. Faas is the author of Peachpit's upcoming ebook Mac OS X Lion Tips and Tricks as well as iPhone for Work (Apress, 2009). You can find out more about him at and follow him on Twitter (@ryanfaas).



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