The more you know...

This one setting makes Stage Manager in macOS Ventura less terrible

Why is this Stage Manager setting buried within the new operating system's System Settings app?

By now you've likely read several reviews for Apple’s macOS 13 Ventura — check out Inverse's review here — and maybe even installed the new Mac operating system on your own machine. It's a free software update and most of the new features are good, except for one: Stage Manager.

Pretty much all reviewers seem to agree Stage Manager is a big miss. The new multitasking mode is not intuitive and is more confusing than using Mission Control, Spaces, and the tried-and-true Command+Tab.

But there is one setting that improves this UI disaster — it's just not turned on by default in macOS Ventura.

Where did the desktop files go?

In my review, I took issue with the fact that your desktop items are hidden when you switch into Stage Manager mode. To access files on your desktop, you click on your wallpaper, which then unhides them. But doing so also minimizes your current open window into one of the piles on the left side. I've tried without success to understand what interaction causes Stage Manager to hide and unhide the desktop files after making them visible. Sometimes clicking on another app pile hides the desktop files and sometimes they remain. There doesn't seem to be any methodology. It's madness, I tell you!

Make desktop files always visible

The “fix” is simple enough. You just need to know where to look.

Within the System Settings app (formerly called System Preferences in macOS Monterey and earlier), under "Desktop & Dock" and then under "Stage Manager," there is a toggle to turn on the multitasking mode and customize it.

Click the "Customize" button and under "Desktop items" turn the toggle to on (blue). Ta-da! Your desktop files are now always visible just like it is when Stage Manager is not turned on.

Turning on this setting within macOS Ventura’s System Settings app makes Stage Manager a slightly better experience.

Raymond Wong / Inverse

It's baffling why Apple buried this setting. The default setting in Stage Manger should show your desktop items, not hide them. I still think that Apple needs to rework Stage Manager so that it's not so hard to figure out. And I still plan on leaving the mode off because it makes multitasking in macOS more difficult. But at least with the desktop items properly visible, Stage Manager is more tolerable and functional.

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