Thursday, February 19, 2009

Virtual Desktops

Do you ever feel like you need more desktop space? Well, I certainly do. Check out my desktop:
It may look strange but what you are seeing is my entire desktop. It consists of 9 spaces. The basic idea is that by dividing up your desktop into multiple "virtual" desktops, you can maximize desktop organizations, efficiency, and use. Looking at my desktop you will notice that, starting in the top left and moving right, I have open Firefox, iTunes, VMware Fusion, Finder, iCal, iPhoto, a blank space, iMail, and VLC Player. What I have done is seperated out my desktop over virtual space so that its size is effectually 9 times larger than it would be without the Spaces. This is what it would look like if you had 6 "phyiscal" desktops:
That's ridiculous... nice command center!

Lets say I had a bunch of applications open on a single space. How would that look?
Thats just an example I found on Google Images- Notice how buried each window is?

It would obviously be a messy looking desktop and require you to switch between windows, minimize and maximize applications, and all sorts of painstaking things. Using a virtual desktop is like having an organized desk. It lets you put things in its proper space to be used when needed. Obviously, if all the things you used on your desk were stacked on top of each other, it would be pretty difficult to be efficient and use your desk space well. Anyway, I am able to virtaulize my computer desktop through a Mac Application called Spaces (click link for more info on that gem). But what about PC's?

FOR PC USERS: There are a host of virtual desktop managers out there. Many cost money, some are free. I have gone out and found 3 that I think are easy to use, work well, and - of course - are FREE. The apps I found are below. All you have to do is download the files and install the programs. They will require some up front configuration but that should be simple enough to figure out.
  1. VirtuaWin
  2. DoubleDesktop
  3. VistaVirtualDesktopManager
I have installed all three and found VirtuawWin to be the best. It can virtualize up to nine spaces and it looks pretty good. Double Desktop is a very simple dual desktop manager. I chose it because its really lightweight and very easy to use. Lastly, I included Vista Virtual Desktop Manager because it is lightweight, does a little more than Double Desktop, but will not let you virtualize quite as many desktops as VirtuaWin. I won't go into a tutorials for each but if you have any problems getting your virtual desktop set up, let me know and I will be happy to help. Lastly, I will be honest, these are harder to use than what comes with the Mac - but they do their job and thats what matters!

Note: if you start using a virtual desktop manager, I suggest starting with 2-4 spaces and then increasing as you may find need. I started with 4, went to 6, and now I use 9. It requires some getting used to, but once you do, you will find that you are much more organized and efficient! Enjoy!

1 comment:

Derek said...

Another gem. Great idea