Although using “Virtual desktops” isn’t something new to the GNU/Linux users since both Unix and GNU/Linux were among the first to implement it many years ago and over the years it has become a standard feature in almost all the major desktop environments as well.
But for some reason Microsoft doesn’t seems to add this feature to their OS at all, which is a bit surprising because they’re never “shy” of being “inspired” by others :). Anyhow, as a MS Windows user, if you’re looking for a free, open source and easy to use (at first it was a little bit confusing) virtual desktop manager, then should might wanna try this one called “VirtuaWin”.
It uses very little of your system resources when comparing with other virtual desktop apps, but then again it doesn’t have fancy 3D effects either. But it has an excellent plugns support and once you get used to it… it can become a powerful little tool.
*. Support almost all the Windows OS versions: 9x, Me, 2000, XP, Vista and 7.
*. Setup hot-keys so you can easily change between desktops or move selected or multiple windows from one desktop to the next.
*. Supports up to 20 virtual desktops!.
*. Change the desktop icon layout (you know the “rows” etc).
*. Comes with few icon themes.
*. As mentioned above it has few plug-ins that add few features. And unlike in GNU/Linux, by default you cannot just drag the windows on the small desktop icon and move the to the next one in VirtuaWin.
But thanks to a plug-in called “KvsadoPage” you can even add that feature too! (however that plugin did not work in my XP machine).
And another plugin displays the desktop name when you make a switch as well.
*. You can manually define the keyboard shortcuts according to your preference.
*. Rename desktop names… these are some of its features to mention.
Now I’m pretty sure you really don’t need any tips for using it. But just in case if you’re too finds it a bit difficult to “understand” at first, then here’s a small tip on how to use it.
*. Say that you wanted to switch to a new virtual desktop after successfully filled the one that you’re using :). Then you can use the below keyboard shortcut to move to a new virtual desktop.
Alt + Ctrl + Arrow Keys
For instance if you wanted to move to the desktop to your right (which is number 2), then just press …
Alt + Ctrl + Right Arrow
If you want to go to the right-bottom desktop (desktop 3) then …
Alt + Ctrl + Down Arrow
In simple terms, you can use the 4 arrow keys to navigate the default four desktops.
How to move or view already opened windows in a new desktop…
Once you’re in a new desktop (it should be empty) you can quickly open any window and work inside it as if it is a brand new desktop.
But let’s say that you wanted to temporarily view an already opened window in the “desktop 1” to the new “desktop 2”, then once you’re in “desktop 2” simply click on its VirtuaWin’s small icon in your notification area and under the sub-menu “Show” click on your preferred application window. That it!.
This however won’t actually move the window to this desktop and it only opens it temporarily. But if you want to permanently move it to the new desktop then under “Move Here”, click on the app name from the list.
You can also use the “Setup” window to add additional menus such as adding windows “Always Show” in all desktops (hidden by default I think) for instance too.
So as a final verdict, if you’ve been trying to find a decent & resources friendly virtual desktop manager for MS Windows, then VirtuaWin may not have all the pretty looks that most carry these days… but it’s certainly a lot useful at times.