Is there any way to change the name of a space on Lion? I'm sure that it's not possible to change the name of a space being taken up by a full screen app, but is it possible to change the name of the "Desktop #" spaces?

  • This is a feature of Hyperspaces, don't know if it's 10.7 compatible though.
    – Daniel Beck
    Commented Jul 21, 2011 at 18:12
  • @Daniel - Hyperspaces definitely not compatible at present; on my machine it persistently changed the focus of any window or input field you were in, thus prevented you from entering anything. The only solution was to remove it. Commented Jul 26, 2011 at 14:54
  • A simple trick to make each separate desktop stand out would be to change the background image on each. e.g.: a fancy beach picture for your 'relax' desktop, solid blue for 'work' etc. Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 16:31
  • Related: How can I name desktops/spaces in El Capitan?
    – kenorb
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 15:40

5 Answers 5


Not really. However if you have a space occupied by a full screen application the name of the space will change to the name of that application


Based on iconoclast's idea, you could create a sticky note for each desktop and place it in the lower left of the bottom of each desktop. it has the benefit of not requiring you to alter background images and allows you to still have a new background image every 30 minutes or so.

But I agree, this is sorely missing from Mac OS X. Linux has had this for how many years now?

  • but is this visible and readable when you are looking at all the spaces (as thumbnails)? I'm pretty certain it's not, so (IMO) that mostly defeats the purpose. The time you need to see the names the most is when you're looking at an overview. If you're on the space itself you can normally easily determine what the purpose of that space is.
    – iconoclast
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 14:05
  • I agree that it's not an ideal solution, but when the note is at a 72pt font or higher like mine are, it is readable even as an overview/thumbnail. Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 1:38
  • I use a TextEdit window with a very large font. Works well enough. I can option+click on any space in the row of them to switch to it and the layout allows me to read it even if it is obscured in the thumbnail view. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 15:14

The commercial TotalSpaces by binaryage allows you to name spaces. Its other features include a grid alignment of spaces and app assignments, similar to Snow Leopard.

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    I don't like the idea of having to pay for this feature, but it looks like it's good software and for those who are willing to pay it's a great solution.
    – Nate
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 14:55
  • 4
    Somehow TotalSpaces has a way of doing it. There must be a way to do it with a script. Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 23:47
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    Note TotalSpaces requires you to permanently Turn off System Integrity Protection (SIP) in order to work. It's a good product, but it's not without downsides
    – KyleMit
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 14:18

There IS, actually, a way to name your spaces. SORT OF.

That is, you can't change the name that appears under them when you use Mission Control (which I will go on record saying is one of Apple's biggest mistakes--Spaces was a million times better, even though it too was crippled in some respects), but you can assign names to them and make it easier to tell them apart.

The trick is that you can assign different desktop images to each 'space' (now called a Desktop). This will help make them easier to tell apart. As far as naming, this will be a huge pain, and definitely not ideal. But a kludgey solution is all Apple leaves open to us. You have to put the name on the image. Yup, open an image editor and add some text on top of those lily pads, or that lion's head, or whatever.

Yes, that sucks if you'd like to regularly name and rename your spaces. But if you have a few that you use most of the time, you can create a few desktop images with the names on them, and just live with it. I wish I could give a better solution, but it's out of my control obviously. This is, unless someone discovers an as yet hidden setting somewhere in OS X, or until Apple realizes their mistake and fixes Mission Control, the best we can do.

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    I don't see how this works. When I view the Spaces bar, it shows all open windows, not the desktop. For this to work, it seems I would have to remember to hide all windows before exiting every Space every time, which would seem counterproductive to the point of using Spaces.
    – Calion
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 13:56
  • Yeah, I made it clear that it's not ideal, but if you move to a space you can hit F3, which will partially expose the desktop, or another keystroke configured to show the whole thing (for me ⌘F3 works). You can't necessarily see the names of all the desktops at the same time, unless you happen to have the part of each desktop with the name uncovered. But Apple hides the desktops until you mouse over them anyway (in my version of macOS) so flipping through them quickly might be faster anyway, since you can do it with just the keyboard.
    – iconoclast
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 18:30

After years of using my above answer, i.e. create sticky notes, I have decided to go with watermarks instead. I use TotalSpaces and Stay and, while generally good, Stay has the side effect of reducing all of my stickies' windows to the same size and placing them on the first space. Every time i reboot I have to rearrange all the stickies for all my spaces. Not fun.

Here is a quick-and-dirty watermarking script, based on http://www.imagemagick.org/Usage/annotating/#wmark_text. To use it, place all the files you want watermarked in a single folder (you probably have done this already to use them as background images for your desktop). For instance, I put mine inside ~/Pictures/backgrounds/4k.

Now, here's how to watermark them with the text Work for my Work space. Create a new folder, Work, inside this same folder. So you have, e.g., ~/Pictures/backgrounds/4k/Work. This folder is empty now but will be full of watermarked images as soon as you run this script.

Open a terminal (iTerm2, preferrably 8-), change to your Work subdir, and type in this:

b=$(basename "$PWD"); for a in ../*.*; do
echo $a
convert "$a" -font Arial -pointsize 40 -draw \
"gravity southwest fill black text 12,12 '$b' fill white text 11,11 '$b' " "$b"_$(basename "$a")

After a few moments you will have a folder filled with watermarked copies of each image in the parent folder. Make a subfolder for each space and repeat the process, telling OSX to use each individual subfolder for each spaces' backgrounds.

If you don't have ImageMagick already, brew install imagemagick first.

Edit: decided to place this script, with misc updates, on GitHub/jcheek/watermark.

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