Switch active monitor/display for changing spaces


it would be really great if we could have a shortcut for switching the active display. This would allow one to change the spaces on the second monitor using the same shortcuts. E.g. ative monitor is the macbook internal display, shortcut to change a space right is Ctrl-Option-Cmd-Right. Now one can type for example Ctrl-Shift-Option-Right to switch to the external monitor and then press Ctrl-Option-Cmd-Right to switch a space right on the external display.

It is a shame that Apple missed that shortcut…

Best regards,


Hi CK,

If I understand correctly, you want to switch the display the hotkeys for space change apply to by a hotkey (rather than which display the mouse is in)?

One issue with this is how to indicate which the current display is. It may be better to have dedicated hotkeys for each display? (Although I’m not sure that we would necessarily commit to either change unless it was a popular request)

Hi Stephen,

that would work for two monitors – but as soon as you add a third one you’re doomed.

I think the best solution would be to add a hotkey for changing the „active” display.

Best regards,


This is killing me. My primary use case for Total Spaces is to remove dependency on the mouse. Relying on the position of the cursor to know which display is going to be affected is really tedious and inefficient.

One issue with this is how to indicate which the current display is.

On my computer you can already tell which display is active by the opacity of the menu bar, the inactive screen is greyed out.

It may be better to have dedicated hotkeys for each display?

I think a switch left/right would be better. (A user could theoretically have more than two displays?). It’s hard enough to find free keyboard combinations as it is. That said, any kind of keyboard support would appreciated.


Sorry, just realized that I was mistaken about the menu bar. It is highlighted above the screen with the active window - which is for some reason different from the screen that will change desktops.

So presently there is really no way to know which screen is going to change when you hit the hotkeys presently. (The mouse cursor is hidden while typing.)

Perhaps the TotalSpaces menu bar icons could differentiate?

Ok, yes TotalSpaces2 could change the active screen rather than the one with the mouse in.

I’ll look at how difficult that is to do.

cheer Great news!

I implemented this as a command line preference. Install this version:


Then go to Terminal.app and paste this command in:

defaults write com.binaryage.TotalSpaces2 useActiveScreenForSwitching -bool YES

Let me know if it works ok.

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Works pretty well for me, nice! Thanks!

This sounds nice (once it makes into a GUI option) - but I have a different request:
Make it possible for the shortcuts for desktops on monitor 2 to be different. It would be nice to hit CTRL-5,6,7,8 to switch between my 4 desktops on the right monitor and CTRL-1,2,3,4 on the left monitor (when displays are set to use separate desktops in Sys Prefs). AFAICT, when I change it on one display, it changes it for the other, requiring me to push the mouse to whichever display I wish to change.

Multiple monitor users often have more than 2 screens - which makes this a bit difficult to implement such that you can set the hotkeys a simple way.

One request that comes up a lot is a hotkey to change the active display - this might be a work around to allow you to change the other screen purely from the keyboard.

Currently I’m using Slate for this. It allows me to focus windows depending on the screen position, so I have set up Ctrl + Cmd + arrow keys to focus the windows left/right of the current active window. So I can effectively switch monitors by focusing the application left/right. One exception: there is no application on the screen I’d like to focus. It would, of course, be nice to get around this restriction.

I just found this post. Happy happy joy joy! Why isn’t this option available in the GUI?

What part about this is crucial to your workflow? I’m guessing most users won’t find this behavior necessary, so the default “follow the mouse” behavior is best by default.