On Virtual desktops in Windows

“If only windows had a multiple desktop system, how happy would I be!”, I have thought to myself quite a few times… I wish I could have a tidy desktop, free of the zillion files that clutter almost all the available space, but if I moved those files I would surely lose track of them.

So, is there any app out there that could allow one to keep several different desktops within the same computer? As far as I know, the answer is “yes and no”, but at least the “Yes” side of the story could be enough for many users:


VirtuaWin is designed to be simple and elegant to use yet still be highly configurable and extensible.

VirtuaWin, as most of the “desktop managers” I have found so far, doesn’t provide you with fully independent desktops, but with a set of different taskbars. In this way, you can distribute the programs you use on the different taskbars, and switch from one another very quickly. For instance, you could have your browser windows opened in taskbar #1, your mail app in taskbar #2, msn in taskbar #3… Installing and using VirtuaWin is very easy, and it works very well: I have been using it in my computer for quite some time now, and switching from taskbar to taskbar has become second nature(1). The only problem I have encountered so far is that I can’t open different browser windows in different taskbars, since they are automatically moved to the taskbar where I first opened it, but that’s not much of a problem.

Therefore, is Virtuawin worth trying? definitely yes. It is completely free, and if the “by default” aspect doesn’t convince you, there’s a whole bunch of icon sets and user-developed mods that add different looks and functionalities to the program. I use it along with the “cool desktop switcher”, which really lives up to its name, since it makes switching desktops even easier šŸ™‚

Well, VirtuaWin is a very nice program, yes, but while it unclutters my taskbar it doesn’t add more space to my desktop. Now, if you’re wondering if there is a program out there that would do that, again I answer “Yes and no”, only that this time the “no” side may be a big drawback for those interested on it. Here’s why:

Own desktop icons for each Virtual Desktop

The statement above is the main difference between Cool Desk and the other virtual desktop managers I know- Cool Desk provides you with completely independent desktops, not just different taskbars, so that you can have different workspaces with the files and folders you want instead of keeping everything in ye ol’ main desktop. However, as good as it may look, Cool Desk is not free ($24.95), and at least in my computer (PIV1.8, radeon X800GT), it didnĀ“t go very well: moving files and folders was slow, laggy and unreliable a task. Furthermore, Cool Desk keeps the virtual desktops and their content within the programĀ“s main folder, which I don’t think is a good policy. However, if you donĀ“t mind this issue and your computer is fast enough, Cool Desk could be an interesting option.

All in all, even though I still don’t have completely different desktops in windows, VirtuaWin has proved itself very helpful with handling many different tasks. For a more complete list of available programs, you may want to visit the wikipedia article on the subject; by the way, since I have an ATI card I tried Hydravision, but I found that Virtuawin works better in my computer.

(1)Pun intended for spanish readers and/or automated translators: no traduzcĆ”is maliciosamente por “cambiar de una tasca/bar a otra tasca/bar se ha convertido en una segunda naturaleza”. šŸ˜‰

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