Multitasking and working with multiple apps and files together has become routine on Mac, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Since Apple is always working on ways to make Mac navigation more efficient, macOS introduces Ventura Stage Manager, which organizes your Mac’s open windows to help you find your needs faster.
This may not be necessary, but after a few minutes with Stage Manager, I’m sure it will help make Mac usability more efficient. The reason is here.
Mission control is good up to a point
Apple already has an app called Mission Control for window hunting. But it’s not an organizer, it’s just a way to see all your windows at once and find what you want. This is fine for a while, but during critical work sessions, dozens of windows may be left open, turning Mission Control into a macOS version of Who’s Waldo. There is also space in Mission Control, which creates additional desktop workspaces, but this is still not ideal.
Stage manager is a good manager
Stage managers provide organizational elements that lack mission control. Windows is selected by a separate app as a thumbnail on the left side of the screen, and clicking on the thumbnail opens the window on the screen. If you have multiple windows open in an app, they will appear as stacked thumbnails, and you will continue to click until the window you want appears.
Even better, you can create groups of windows that go together for your workflow. For example, if you’re writing a research paper, you may have pages, safaris, dictionaries, and note apps open, and you can combine each thumbnail by dragging it to the center of the screen. When all the appropriate windows are on the screen, click on one of the thumbnails and Stage Manager automatically creates groups. Then when you click on the group thumbnail, those app windows appear on the screen and another window is hidden.
During Apple’s Stage Manager display, Apple SVP Craig Federighi showed the default setting of “Show Recent Apps”, which places a constant row of thumbnails on the left side of the screen, a visual element that some might consider this added screen clutter.
Stage Manager 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 the dock can be set to hide. To show the stage manager, move the pointer to the left edge of the screen. If you set the dock to appear on the left, the Stage Manager appears at the bottom of the dock, large enough to access the thumbnails.
This company is a huge improvement over mission control because there is no more waste of time and energy for a window. Mission Control is not uncommon – it still works with a small number of windows open. But stage managers are good when you are working on a big project, or you are not one who is aware of window management.
Quirks and limitations
When Stage Manager is on, everything on the desktop is hidden, but you can get your files by clicking anywhere on the screen. The Open app moves to the Stage Manager thumbnail row, Finder takes over, and what was on the desktop can be seen again.
However, a strange thing happens when you don’t have an app open and Stage Manager is on: nothing is still visible on the desktop. To view your desktop items, you need to click on the desktop. (Clicking a second time hides the icons on your desktop again.) Opening a desktop item (a storage device icon, a file, etc.) opens it in the center of the screen and hides other desktop items.
Some of the limitations of the stage manager include:
- It displays a maximum of five thumbnails, as determined by recent usage.
- Thumbnails cannot be rearranged or resized
- If you right-click on the thumbnail then there is no option. This can be easy if, for example, Safari has multiple windows open and you want to close the one above.
- Apps cannot be exited via Stage Manager thumbnails.
These limitations, however, are more a matter of convenience than barriers that prevent the stage manager from being useful.
You don’t have to use a stage manager, but you probably will
The Stage Manager is an option in the Control Center, so if you don’t like it or don’t want to use it, you can quickly turn it off. No one is forced to use it, so you don’t have to if you don’t want to change the way you work. You should definitely try it though. And since it’s a beta, it can be more effective with some changes and modifications.
I already like Stage Manager and although I have to adjust to how my desktop is managed, I can say that it is going to save me a lot of excitement while using my Mac.