Multitasking and the MacBook Screen

I love the MacBook screen, not just because it is crispy clear. By making the width longer than its height, Apple gave me more horizontal desktop space so I can place two documents or windows side by side.

Since the screen height is short, the overall effect is that the MacBook is still compact and balances well when you have to move it around. But that's not all.

There are two ways to make the MacBook screen more helpful in managing clutter. The first one entails no cost. Just download Desktop Manager and run it. This app gives you a default of 4 desktops which you could switch quickly, forth and back. Using Desktop Manager, I organize my workspace into Main (schedules, to do lists), Work (word processing, coding), Internet (web surfing, email) and Music (where I show iTunes). How does this help me work better?

Think of each virtual desktop as a mindset. When I'm in the Work mindset, I just switch to the Work desk. When I want to visit a website, I switch to the Internet desktop. Switching to virtual desktops is much easier than cycling through all of my open windows and minimize what I don't need.

The next tip is to buy a gadget: the mini-DVI to VGA adapter ($20). With this small gadget, you can plug in an external monitor (I place my extra monitor on the left). In System Preferences, turn off Mirror Mode from Display Settings and -- tadah! -- the second monitor becomes a left extension for my desktop.

With the extra monitor, I can drag iCal to the left monitor and keep it there so it doesn't get covered by other windows. It even works with Desktop Manager, by extending each of the virtual desktops.

At work, I often need to refer to several open documents simultaneously: either when I'm comparing content or drafting something while referring to a couple of other documents. Example: when I wish to open a page to copy its layout, I just drag it to the left monitor so I can glance at it while working on my MacBook screen. (Got that? :-))

Note. The first time I attached an external monitor I was confused for a couple of seconds. The external monitor showed an empty wallpaper and I couldn't seem to locate the cursor. It turned out that although I put my monitor to the left, MacBook, by default, assumed the extra monitor was on the right side. To change this, in the Display Settings, I dragged the icon representing the extra monitor to the left and that fixed it.


Download: Desktop Manager

BTW: Switching desktops in Desktop Manager can done in three ways:
  • Alt-Apple-Cursor Right (or Left)
  • Using the icons on the Mac menu bar
  • Using the cool Smackbook, in which you to tap the side of the MacBook to trigger the switch, thanks to the built-in motion sensor. (Caution: may cause damage or data loss, so beware!)

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