Multitasking and working with multiple apps and files at once has become routine on the Mac, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Because Apple is always working on ways to make Mac navigation more efficient, macOS introduces Ventura Stage Manager, which organizes the open windows on your Mac so you can find the ones you need faster.
It may not be necessary, but after just a few minutes with Stage Manager, I’m confident it will help make Mac usability more efficient. This is why.
Mission Control is good, up to a point
Apple already has an app called Mission Control for Windows hunting. But it’s not an organizer per se, it’s just a way to see all your windows at once and find the one you want. Sometimes that’s fine, but during serious work sessions, dozens and dozens of windows can open, turning Mission Control into a macOS version of Where’s Waldo. There are also Spaces within Mission Control, which create additional desktop workspaces, but it’s still not ideal.
Stage Manager is a better manager
Stage Manager provides organizational elements that Mission Control lacks. Windows sorts by individual app as thumbnails on the left side of the screen, and clicking the thumbnail opens the window on the screen. If you have multiple windows of an app open, they will appear as stacked thumbnails and keep clicking until the window you want appears.
Better yet, you can create groups of windows to suit your workflow. For example, if you’re writing a research paper, you can open Pages, Safari, Dictionary, and the Notes apps, and you can group them together by dragging each thumbnail to the center of the screen. When all the relevant windows are on the screen, just click on one of the thumbnails and Stage Manager will automatically create the group. Then when you click on the group thumbnail, those app windows will appear on the screen and all other windows will be hidden.
During Apple’s demonstration of Stage Manager, Apple SVP Craig Federighi showed the default “Show Recent Apps” setting, which places a constant row of thumbnails on the left side of the screen, a visual element that some may find this extra clutter on the screen.
Stage Manager also has a “Hide recent apps” option that you can set in the Stage Manager Control Center module. This option hides the Stage Manager icons, such as how to set the Dock to hide. To make Stage Manager appear, move the pointer to the left edge of the screen. If you’ve set the Dock to appear on the left, Stage Manager will appear below the Dock, with thumbnails larger enough to access.
This organization is a huge improvement over Mission Control because no more time and energy is wasted looking for a window. Mission Control isn’t obsolete – it’s still useful if you have a small number of windows open. But Stage Manager is better if you’re working on big projects, or you’re not the window management conscious type.
Peculiarities and Limitations
When Stage Manager is enabled, everything on the desktop is hidden, but you can still access your files by clicking anywhere on the screen. The open app goes to the Stage Manager thumbnail row, the Finder takes over, and whatever was on the desktop reappears.
However, there’s a quirk that occurs when you don’t have any apps open and Stage Manager is enabled: there’s still nothing visible on the desktop. To see your desktop items, you need to click on the desktop. (Clicking a second time hides the icons on your desktop again.) When you open a desktop item (a storage device icon, a file, etc.), it opens in the center of the screen and displays the other desktop items. hidden.
To avoid this, you can disable Stage Manager. You can also choose to disable it if you only use a few apps at a time. But that means developing a new habit of turning Stage Manager on and off as needed, and some may find that too distracting.
Some of the limitations of Stage Manager are:
It shows up to five thumbnails, determined by the most recently used.
The thumbnails cannot be rearranged or resized.
There are no options available when you right-click a thumbnail. This can be useful if, for example, Safari has multiple windows open and you want to close the top one.
Apps cannot be closed via a Stage Manager thumbnail.
However, these limitations are more a matter of convenience than barriers that keep Stage Manager from being useful.
You don’t have to use Stage Manager, but you probably will
Stage Manager is an option in Control Center, so if you don’t like it or don’t feel like using it, you can quickly disable it. No one is forced to use it, so if you don’t want to change the way you do things, you don’t have to. Still, you should definitely give it a try. And since it’s a beta, it could get even more useful with some tweaks and changes.
I already love Stage Manager and while I have to adapt to the way the desktop is used, I can see that it will save me a lot of aggravation while using my Mac.