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Do you have a desktop cluttered with screenshots, folders vaguely named “work stuff” and seemingly no order to the clutter? SaneDesk ($17.99) exists to restore this lost level of sanity to your Mac’s desktop, in stunningly simple fashion.

By simply organising those icons by purpose into specific workspaces you can vastly increase your productivity by hiding distractions and ensuring relevant documents are nearby when you need them the most. At just short of $20 it’s not going to break the bank, and you can even download a free trial version to try before you buy.

How It Works

Now on its second version, SaneDesk is a visual organisational aid. All it really does is organise your desktop (and it doesn’t even do it for you) but the end result can really help those of you who find yourselves staring at a screen full of icons that have no order whatsoever.

Once installed SaneDesk creates four separate workspaces, the default of which is “Primary Workspace” and is where all of your icons are sent for organisation. An icon will appear in your Mac’s menubar, and when clicked you’ll see three more workspaces to choose from: Work, Play and Miscellaneous.

At this stage it’s worth noting that SaneDesk doesn’t move, delete or change your files in any way – they can still be found on your Mac’s desktop, regardless of which workspace you’re currently using. All SaneDesk really does is hide the right icons at the right time, in accordance with your own rules.

Everything is customisable, so you can rename, delete and create workspaces to your heart’s content. Icons can be sent to other workplaces by selecting and dragging into the menubar, a particularly easy and quick way of organising everything. Once you’ve set it up, all you have to do is maintain your own rules – something not even the developers can help you with.

You can create workspaces for work, workspaces for individual projects or a zen workspace that contains no icons whatsoever – it’s up to you.

The Problems It Solves

An app like SaneDesk has a few clearly visible advantages, starting with the issue of productivity. It simply isn’t productive to have a big mess of icons staring you in the face – a small mess of relevant icons and organised folders is much better. Out of the box, SaneDesk gives you a blank slate.

As a writer I take a lot of screenshots, which leads to the inevitable mess of a desktop as .PNG files build up beneath browser windows and the like. I will often delete these screenshots en masse, and SaneDesk helps ensure I’ve not left any personal things I’d like to keep on my desktop before I wipe the slate clean again.

If you’re worried about switching workspaces, then don’t be. By choosing Edit Workspace from the menu, you can assign a keyboard shortcut to each workspace and switch to it instantly. There are also shortcut options for other actions including hiding and showing all icons and deleting or creating workspaces themselves.

In order to keep track of where you are, it’s also possible to check the Handle Background option under Preferences and assign an individual background to each workspace. All that’s left is to break out the motivational wallpapers!

Alternatives

From what I’ve seen, there’s very little in the way of direct competition. Similar apps exist, but nothing that quite matches what SaneDesk offers. Hyperspaces (formerly paid, now free) would be one alternative, but it won’t run on any version of Mac OS X older than 10.6. Desktop Groups ($9.99) can help organise, but doesn’t use separate workspaces.

From what I can tell, SaneDesk is pretty unique – though I personally think somewhere closer to the $10 mark would be a more appropriate price point.

A Productive Tweak

SaneDesk doesn’t so much as add functionality to your Mac, but take it away. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s used to streamline your workflow by focusing your mind on the task at hand. If you find that hiding distractions and increased productivity go hand in hand, and you rely on the OS X desktop a lot of the time, SaneDesk 2.0 might be just what you’re looking for.

Download: SaneDesk 2.0 ($17.99)

  1. David Week
    August 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I've been using ProjectDesktops for about a year.
    http://www.project-desktops.com

    Works like a charm, except I'm concerned about what all the swapping of files does to my backup system, in terms of multiple copies. For that reason only, I'm looking at alternatives.

    But it's a great product.

  2. azdawg
    April 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    SaneDesk 2 is only $9.99 in the App Store.
    Personally I prefer TabLauncher ($3.99) because it REALLY unclutters your desktop via tabs on the edge - anywhere - of the window. With SaneDesk the desktop is still cluttered, you just don't see it. However, some users may prefer SaneDesk.

    • Tim B
      April 8, 2014 at 12:44 am

      Thanks for the recommendation. You're right - the app appears to be on sale at the moment, though developers are still listing $17.99 on their website. My guess is that the price will go back up before long :)

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