Stage Manager is the most talked about feature of macOS Ventura, and for good reason. As Apple points out in its demo, your Mac can quickly become a mess if you have a lot of application windows open.
This new feature can help you by minimizing all windows while preserving the windows you are using.
How to use Stage Manager on macOS Ventura
1. Click Control Center.
2. Hover over the “Stage Manager” tile and click on it.
3. It should bring the active app into focus by centering it, while minimizing the rest of the window to the sidebar on the left.
Note: When you open a maximized application window and activate the Stage Manager, it will unmaximize the window to center it.
To access other apps, click from the sidebar or dock, and they will be the center of attention, while the old apps are sent to the sidebar. Stage Manager supports fast application switching using Command + Tab. Clicking outside the window, i.e. on both sides, will minimize the current application window to the side pane.
If you want to use 2 application windows at the same time, drag the other window from the sidebar and drop it on the main application window. This will group the apps. You can resize the window, and rearrange its position as well. Apps in the sidebar are updated with new information, for example, if you get a new message in Mail, you will see an updated thumbnail preview with an unread email in the background. Stage Manager supports Mission Control, Spaces, and Expose.
Click the Stage Manager icon in the quick toggles section, and it will show you three options.
The button at the top turns the feature off, while the options below it can be used to show or hide recent apps. The latter is basically an auto-hide option, which returns the sidebar to view when you move the cursor to the edge of the screen.
If you maximize the application window, it will hide the Stage Manager sidebar automatically. e.g. Safari, Notes, Mail, etc. Hover your mouse to the left, and the panel will reappear. That’s actually pretty good, but it doesn’t work with all apps, for example Finder or System Settings (formerly System Preferences), which is why you might want to enable “Hide recent apps”. One thing that Apple didn’t mention is that the Stage Manager hides the desktop icons,
Thoughts on Stage Manager
I installed macOS Ventura on an external SSD and have used it to dual boot my MacBook Air M1. I have mixed feelings about the Stage Manager. It is very useful to have a one click solution to get rid of all other windows. It works pretty well, even for a beta feature. I use Mission Control and Spaces a lot, it’s very useful for organizing certain apps across multiple desktops, and accessing them with a simple swipe on the trackpad is very convenient, and there’s Exposé to see all the windows in an app. The Stage Manager removes the need to manually organize application windows, which is why I’d love to like it, but I don’t think I would.
If it’s designed to minimize all windows while keeping the active window, what’s the point of Option + Command + H being able to do the same thing? Visual previews are the only extra thing Stage Manager has to offer, apart from fancy animations. Previewing apps in the Dock would be nice (like the Taskbar preview in Windows 10/11).
I feel that Stage Manager is wasting too much screen real estate on either side of the screen, at least on devices with small screens like MacBooks. And then there are invisible walls on either side of the middle window, which means you can’t open 2 apps side by side.
macOS window handling is still poor, you can’t maximize multiple app windows to fit the screen (not full screen mode) without the help of third party apps like Rectangle. Even Cmd+Tab isn’t good enough in my opinion, it lacks the ability to switch between application windows, something the AltTab application is capable of. This is an area Apple could tackle, instead of introducing other window management options.
I think the Stage Manager could be functionally better if it hides the Dock and replaces it, or just minimizes the window to the dock as a group. That would be awesome. I don’t think I’ll be in the minority when I say Mission Control and Spaces still offers a superior experience.