What is macOS Status Manager and how to enable it?


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

I’ve been a stage actor for nearly 40 years, so the term “stage manager” has a very specific meaning to me. Suffice it to say that without a stage manager, a product can be a useless mess. I would go so far as to say that the stage manager is at the heart of every production.

So, when I discovered a status manager feature in MacOS, I was excited. I had to think this would be an incredibly useful way to work with the desktop.

It really is.

Further: Don’t waste your money on these Apple products: December 2022 edition

Here’s how it works. When you turn on Stage Manager, the app you’re currently using takes center stage, while all other open apps appear as live thumbnails on the side. To switch between apps, all you have to do is click the thumbnail to bring that app to the center. If you tend to multitask, this is a great way to work, especially if you want to keep your MacOS dock hidden. You can quickly switch between apps and easily see what you have open.

I’m going to show you how to enable and use the macOS Status Manager feature.


How to Run macOS Status Manager

Click the Apple icon at the top left of the desktop, and from the drop-down menu, click System Settings.

In the System Settings search bar, type status manager. Click the entry under Desktop & Dock.

MacOS Desktop & Dock Settings window.

Stage Manager is located under Desktop & Dock in the System Settings app.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

You should see an On/Off toggle associated with the Status Manager. Click Change it and a new window will appear.

In the resulting window, click Turn On Stage Manager. Once this is done, close the System Settings window.

Opens the Stage Manager window.

You can see how the Stage Manager works in this window.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Stage Manager won’t work until you log out of MacOS and log back in. Once that is done, open an app and it will automatically appear in the center of the desktop. Open another one and it will take the place of the original app, which will appear as a live thumbnail on the left side of the desktop. You can open as many apps as you want, but the status manager will only show a total of four apps in the left column.

Stage Manager is active in macOS Ventura.

Stage Manager makes multitasking on MacOS very easy.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

To switch to another app, simply click on the live thumbnail for that app, and it will take the place of the current app in the center of your desktop.

That’s it for running and using the macOS Stage Manager feature. If you multitask as much as I do, you’ll find that there’s an extra Stage Manager on the desktop.

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