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If you constantly find your desktop cluttered and overloaded with programs and browser windows then a virtual desktop manager might be for you. Virtual desktops are handy if you want to keep different tasks and programs separated. They are quite common on Mac and Linux computers. It may take some time but once you get used to using them, they become an essential part of a productive workflow. So if you’re up for it, below are some of the better Windows desktop managers out there:

(1) Dexpot

Dexpot is an easy to use and fast desktop manager that makes managing multiple desktops very easy. It’s my favorite desktop manager and comes with plenty of useful features.

Dexpot- Virtual Desktop for Windows

When it comes to virtual desktops, the most important feature is the ease of switching between desktops. The easier and faster the switching, the better it is. Dexpot offers a number of ways to switch between desktops, including keyboard shortcuts Alt+1/2/3/4 or using the ‘Desktop Manager’ located on top of the Windows taskbar (picture above).

Dexpot - Virtual Desktop Manager

Another cool feature is the ability to quickly move or copy a particular window to one of the other desktops. To access these options, simply right-click on any of the program tabs in the menubar. There is also an option to copy certain windows to all desktops at the same time. Very useful.

Virtual Desktop Settings

You can also customize each of your multiple desktops further with its own wallpaper, desktop entry/exit sounds, screensaver, manager icon and so on.

(2) VirtualWin

VirtualWin - Virtual Desktop Managers

VirtualWin is another virtual desktop manager for the Windows computer. VirtualWin offers pretty much all of the features that you get with Dextop and some more. There are two things I don’t like about it though. First there is no visual menu for quick desktop switching like in the case of Dexpot, only shortcuts. It’s also a bit overwhelming and takes some time to get used to.

Although on the positive side, VirtuaWin is extensible and comes with a number of extensions that add additional functionalities. Check out VirtualWin modules here. There is a portable version as well.

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  1. Syahid A.
    May 9, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    A vote for Dexpot by me. Efficient tool, imo.

  2. IP
    May 7, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    I've found some other Virtual Desktop Managers some time ago (Chimera Virtual Desktop, for instance), however, i didn't find any like the one you've got on linux. Just install Ubuntu and you'll see a real VDM.

  3. Ryan
    May 7, 2008 at 3:00 am

    The Codeplex offering (Virtual Desktop Manager) is also good. I must say that Dexpot is a bit quicker and I have had no issues using it with XP.

  4. Matt Ellsworth
    May 6, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    pretty cool - thanks! I've been looking for one of these. I had found another one that I used years ago - but then I had stopped and now I miss it.

  5. Stimul8d
    May 6, 2008 at 3:18 am

    My personal favourite would have to be a paid option i'm afraid. I know you only usually cover the free stuff and i DID use dexpot for a long time but from now on i'll be using 'cube desktop'.

    Dexpot has the tendeancy to lose it's handle on MFC, QT and some old school VB6 apps and doesn't do a great job of recovering them which makes some of my work a pain. Cube desktop has yet to let me down and it's only £10! Bonus!

  6. LARQ
    May 3, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    ObjectDock PLus :)

    • Travis Quinnelly
      May 4, 2008 at 8:48 am

      Too bad this is paid software. We typically only cover those of which are free.

  7. arturogoga
    May 3, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Dexpot hasn't been updated in 2 years, and when 1.4 came out, it had awful problems with vista (switching desktops via keyboard shortcuts often resulted in blank screens, for example), so I'd say VirtuaWin is still the better option of the two.

    It's a shame no virtual desktop option came with Vista's SP1, since I really enjoy using it on Ubuntu and Leopard. Of course, it's not such a huge productivity boost as using dual monitors, but when you're on the move, with a laptop, it's great to be able to dedicate an entire desktop to different programs.

    • Aibek
      May 4, 2008 at 12:16 pm

      Same here, I was expecting a native virtual desktop application on Vista as well.... As about Dexpot, I am on Vista and it works fine.

  8. Famf
    May 3, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    The only virtual desktop manager I have liked are the ones in Linux, especially with Compiz Fusion. I've used OS X's spaces but I've never been particularly pleased with it.

    I'll try these out and see how it goes, dexpot looks promising.

  9. Aseem Kishore
    May 3, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    I also like this one from CodePlex, it was a lot of good features and supports XP and Vista also:

    • Aibek
      May 4, 2008 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks Aseem, will check it out.