Multiple desktops benefit productivity, as they reduce clutter on your desktop and help you focus on the task at hand. Mac OS X(Spaces) and Linux sport this built-in.
However, Windows does not have such a feature. This is a big let-down, because a desktop-switching system coupled with multiple desktops can reduce clutter by splitting up all the windows that you have opened, icons on the desktop etc. If you’ve ever used Mac OS X or Linux distros, you’ll know how easy and useful such a feature can be.
Windows may not have desktop switching built-in, but it is safe to assume that there is a program for everything. Dexpot is one such application that makes desktop-switching and managing multiple desktops easy on Windows. The interface is not very pretty. However, after trying out two other applications, I can vouch for how good it is, when compared to similar applications.
The image above is of the desktop preview mode, where all the desktops are shown, and you can click to switch to a desktop. The click shows a slick zoom-in effect before switching to the required desktop.
Dexpot supports multiple desktops, and has a windows preview pane (picture above). The window preview pane sits at the top left. The only problem is that window-preview and desktop preview carries out similar functions. I usually choose only desktop preview (which is less distracting and smaller). Clicking on the icons on the desktop overview pane takes you to the corresponding desktop.
For my own configuration, I set up desktops for the following functions:
- Desktop 1: For browsing and reading. Contains Firefox and FeedDemon.
- Desktop 2: For fun, play and relaxing. Contains iTunes, Twhirl (Twitter client) and Digsby (IM).
- Desktop 3: For work. Contains Windows Live Writer and a Windows Explorer pane, set to my work folder (D:\Blogging\).
- Desktop 4: For graphics editing. Contains Adobe Photoshop (until the trial runs out) or GIMP (after Photoshop’s trial period is over).
Most settings can be accessed via right-clicks to the tray icon or the window on which you want to work (for example, Windows Explorer). You can setup hotkeys to switch between or select desktops. The shortcuts, by default, are Alt+1(or 2/3/4) for the corresponding desktops. There is a context menu(which is revealed when right-clicked on the menubar of any window) to move/copy windows from one desktop to another.
Drag-and-drop is also supported for moving windows between desktops. Just select the file(s) that you want, drag and drop it to the required desktop on the window switcher (window switcher is shown in the first image of this post). You can set up particular windows to appear on all desktops.
I set up Firefox for all desktops, since I practically live inside the browser. Desktop switchers are particularly useful if you hate clutter and cannot work properly and efficiently when surrounded by multiple windows.
The only problem that I see in Dexpot is the sheer number of options. Some of them can be confusing, and some others are actually similar(one of them only is required). However, getting started is easy with Dexpot, and you can slowly work around and find out how to use all those options (right-click tray icon to get settings window).
What desktop switcher apps do you use (if any)? Have you found it to be more feature-rich or powerful than Dexpot? Do tell us about your favourite app in the comments (or tell us how you liked Dexpot)