Monday, September 22, 2008

XP Virtual Desktop Manager

I finally got around to installing Microsoft's Virtual Desktop Manager today. Its a free download and is part of the Microsoft Power Toys for XP. I actually downloaded it the other day, but couldn't figure out how to get it to work. It just goes through the installation and then nothing. No icon on the desktop. Nothing added on the Start >> Programs menu bar. I had no idea where it was going and how to actually start it.

I had to do some research today and found the answer from this other blog entry. It apparently gets added to the taskbar's menu when you right-click it. Choose toolbars from the pop-up menu and you will see Desktop Manager.

The Desktop Manager gives you up to 4 virtual desktops. You can open new windows on each virtual desktop and avoid cluttering your main display. Its not as intuitive as virtual desktops in Linux though. I noticed that if you open a new application on a virtual desktop, even when you switch virtual desktops, the new application still appears at the bottom taskbar of the other desktops. Shouldn't it only appear on the taskbar of the particular virtual desktop that it was opened in?

It also does not shows you a thumbnail representation of the content of a virtual desktop. I remember using Borland's Sidekick utility that does the same about 15 years ago. At that time, it already shows you a thumbnail representation of its other virtual screens. I believe Linux virtual desktops also has the same capability.

Being able to switch virtual desktops by pressing the Windows Start button + "1", "2", "3" or "4" is a nice trick. Each virtual desktop can also have its wallpaper customized.

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