Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Multiple Desktop in Windows

Enter the World of Virtual Desktop

Multiple Virtual Desktops were available for UNIX like operating system since long. Multiple Virtual Desktops are de-facto standard for some Popular Desktop environment in Linux. Gnome, KDE, Xfce etc., all have built in Virtual Desktops. What about Windows? Well, feel lucky if you are using WindowsXP, since Microsoft has one similar tool for Virtual Desktop Management. And, loose no heart if you are using earlier versions of Windows. Luckily, you may find some third party trial-ware / shareware Virtual Desktop manager for you. Before you go to get one Virtual Desktop Manager for your Windows, know certain things to get most. Here is how-

Virtual Desktops for Better Productivity

Gone are the days when you need to work in only one application at a time. The need of the hour is to use your skill and your multi-Ghz computer’s full multitasking-multithreading capabilities by working in multiple applications simultaneously. For example, while working with your multiple Excel work sheets, you can listen to your favorite songs in Winamp, Chat and send IM to your friend frequently and may be, use some more application like Windows Explorer etc for searching-copy-pasting files, and downloading a cool song from internet. Now, if all these application are opened simultaneously in a single desktop, not only they make your task difficult, they are badly cluttered, need frequent switching from taskbar and add confusions in managing them. Some times, they did not find place in taskbar and get buried in groups or very small, hard to recognize icons. In situation like this, enter the world of Virtual Desktop, and you will be blessed with Neat desktop for forever. No matter how many applications and windows you open at a time, Virtual Desktop tools may create number of Empty virtual Desktops on your computers original, single desktop for your opened applications. And you can neatly place your opened application on them. In fact, all the applications were running only in your original, the only desktop, but selected ones are redirected to display on an empty, virtual window with the help of some software code. Virtual Desktop not only gives you freedom from Desktop clutter, some well written Virtual Desktop managers give you more. For example, normally, you cannot drag a maximized window anywhere, but with certain Virtual Desktop managers, you can do even that and more. Virtual Desktop works fine nearly in all cases, but since most of them use Video memory to display virtual desktops, you may encounter occasional error and, some of your application may not run correctly. Similarly, Virtual desktops are not for all Display cards, particularly older ones. They may be incapable to display your virtual desktops correctly due to their less power and little memory.

Virtual Desktop Manager Power toys for WindowsXP

This is a free add-on from Microsoft for WindowsXP. It is a small 550 KB download from http://download.microsoft.com/download/whistler/Install/2/WXP/EN-US/DeskmanPowertoySetup.exe . Once installed, this cute little utility gives you option to work on four virtual desktops. After installation, right click on taskbar and click on Toolbars>Desktop Managers to toggle between Four Virtual Desktops or Single Desktop. You can customize all four desktop with its own Wall Paper. The Virtual desktop can be invoked through shortcut key which are further configurable. The utility gives you option to get quick preview of all four desktop simultaneously so that you can quickly pick the one, which is running your desired application in a Maximized Window. You can put four buttons each for every desktop in your Taskbar. Click on any one of it any time and that desktop will display immediately. This utility is specific for WindowsXP and if you want Virtual Desktop for other version of Windows, you have to check for third party utilities. Following are some third party Virtual Desktop managers which can be used in Win9x and above version of Windows.

enable Virtual Desktop

enable Virtual Desktop lets you manage as many Virtual Desktop as you think will appropriate for you. But it is recommended to not use more than 4 in general and never beyond 9 Virtual Desktops. The more virtual desktop you use, the more resources it will use (at some point, your application may refuse to run or crash finally) and number of desktops beyond a certain limit will negate its benefit since it may add confusion further. enable Virtual Desktop is released as 30 days evaluation version, but works beyond that limit after reminding you to register every time you run the application. This nice utility also has some advanced Virtual desktop management tool. With enable Virtual Desktop, you can specify that at which Virtual desktop, at which position and at what initial size the application should start. You can navigate around Virtual desktops as you are moving through a large desktop. enable Virtual Desktop lets you define your Virtual Desktop for any custom size. You can set rules for individual applications so that they should follow these set rules. You can set different Wallpaper for each Virtual Desktop. A detailed, friendly, help file also gets installed with application menu that can be referred for advanced settings and understanding the working of application. However, the application is much straightforward in use and therefore, requires little help. Simply right click on its mini window and select appropriate context menu that appears. Get this utility from http://www.enablesoftware.com

Cool Desk

Cool Desk is a small, simple Virtual desktop manager that lets you manage up to 9 Virtual desktop in Windows9x and above. It has a settings wizard that is simple to administer and through which you can set properties of Cool Desk. Cool Desk’s icon can be placed in taskbar or its floating, dock-able icon can be placed horizontally or vertically at an appropriate place in the Desktop. Further, its icons and skin can be changed and set appropriate to applications you want to use in particular Virtual desktop. For example, if you want to use Desktop no. 1 for Word and text documents, then assign its icon accordingly and so on. This way you will be able to quickly identify to Virtual Desktop appropriate to your applications. Cool Desk is available for 30 days trial at : http://www.shelltoys.com/ .

Multi Desktop

Multi Desktop creates Four Virtual Desktop for you. In addition to all standard functionality a Virtual Desktop manager provides, the new thing it offers is - it lets you assign unique names for each Virtual Desktop. Simply point to its active Desktop icon and it will show the name of your virtual desktop. It places an icon on system tray and if you click on it, you toggle sequentially between four desktops. You can right click on its tray icon and select any of the four Virtual desktop to display in its context menu that appears. Try this simple Virtual Desktop from http://www.8848soft.com .

TriPlus WinSpace

This Virtual Desktop Manager has many advanced feature that others are lacking. TriPlus WinSpace is true Virtual Desktop Manager that provides functionality of Virtual Desktop and beyond. TriPlus WinSpace can show an application’s default size window in either Larger or smaller size. You can increase or decrease the size of Virtual Desktop by clicking Grow Elephant Window and Shrink Elephant Window. It also supports multi-monitors and with it, you can increase Virtual Desktop size many times. It has a grid like WinSpace map, through which you can manage your applications in different window. With its horizontal and vertical scroll bars, you can navigate through Virtual Desktops as you are moving in a big monitor having many times the size of your original desktop. You can define as many Virtual Desktop as you wish and they all work just fine. 30 day’s trial version is available at: http://www.triplus.com

So, do not get lost in your opened window, instead, use Virtual Desktops for a well organized workplace.

Screenshot descriptions:

  1. Virtual desktop 01 Cool Desk’s up to nine Virtual desktop icons can be placed anywhere in window. Click on corresponding icon to invoke that particular Virtual Desktop. It also displays all the opened application in opened Virtual desktop, which can be assigned to any other Virtual Desktop by right clicking on them and selecting appropriate Virtual Desktop number.
  2. Virtual desktop 02 Multi Desktop is a simple, small utility that gives you up to four virtual desktops to manage your opened applications in Win9x and above.
  3. Virtual desktop 03 Triplus WinSpace is a true, advanced Virtual Desktop Manager. This tool lets you work across multiple monitors and all your Virtual Desktop are managed as they are one, Single but Huge desktop, and you can scroll horizontally and vertically to work on them.
  4. Virtual desktop 04 enable Virtual Desktop in action. In its 9 virtual desktop, 6 applications are opened, all maximized, and three more can be opened in its empty virtual desktop.
  5. Virtual desktop 05 Virtual Desktop Manager Power Toys for WindowsXP, a free add on from Microsoft lets you manage up to four Virtual Desktops. Each Virtual Desktop can have its own specific Wallpaper and other individual settings as well.
  6. Virtual desktop 06 enable Virtual Desktop’s properties window. There you can set various properties / behavior etc. of your individual Virtual Desktops.
  7. Virtual desktop 07 enable Virtual Desktop has dock-able mini window. Each square represent one virtual desktop. You can drag and drop and click on any within mini window to manage Virtual Desktops.

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