Power Toy – Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop Manager

Karl L. Gechlik 29-08-2008

It is no secret that I LOVE me some SysInternal Tools. I have covered AutoRuns Get Your Computer Startup Under Control With Autoruns Read More here at and a ton of others over at my website.


Since Microsoft bought Sysinternals there have been some really cool new tools. The newest one on the scene is Virtual Desktop Manager. Virtual Desktop Manager might be a foreign concept to Windows users. But those of you loving a flavor of ‘Nix or maybe you are a Ubuntu Fan then you know what I am talking about.

It is a simple 384kb download that gives you multiple, easy to switch to desktops. You can have 4 different desktops each with different applications opened or even the same application with different windows. If you have been long time MakeUseOf reader then you’re probably familiar with virtual desktops already.

I normally have a gagillion windows opened including Windows Media Player, One of my various blog editors, email, pron And actual work!

Now I can keep each work space populated with what i need for that task.

And the best part is if you are playing music in one of your virtual desktops it still is available as you switch around. Now let’s check out how it works. You download the executable from here.


As I went looking for the link for you guys I discovered a newer version of Virtual Desktop called Desktops. I will have to give it a thorough workout and report back any differences and which is actually better. Personally I LOVE Virtual Desktop and don’t think it needed any improving!

After you download and install the exe right click on your task bar choose tool bars and select Desktop Manager.

virtual desktop toolbar

That will put this in your system tray to the left of the time. As you probably guessed each icon represents a desktop and the first button shows you all four screens in a sort of full screen mode.


virtual desktop 2

Right click on the toolbar to get the following menu. You can then configure your background images on each desktop and setup some nifty shortcut keys.


Here you see the options menu where you can select your images and hotkeys for easy switching


free virtual desktop

Power Toy - Microsoft's Virtual Desktop Manager virtual deesktop4

This is a shot of my four desktops.

Power Toy - Microsoft's Virtual Desktop Manager virtual deesktop


And if you decide it’s not for you and you exit out of the applications all the windows will be restored to your normal single desktop. Do you use a desktop manager? Have you downloaded and tried Desktops? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Virtual Desktop, Virtualization.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Thrawn
    April 24, 2009 at 12:43 am

    This is an interesting toy, but limited and buggy compared to *nix desktop managers.

    You can't, for example, send a running application to another desktop; you have to make sure that you start it in the right one. However, applications can move between desktops - but not when you tell them to. Just let a reminder or email notification appear, and Outlook is likely to jump over to the desktop that you were using at the time.

    I've launched an application on one desktop, switched to another desktop before the splash screen disappeared, and had the actual application launch on the desktop that I switched to, meaning that if I want to have the application stay where I put it, I have to wait on that desktop until it finishes loading. This interferes with the basic purpose of Virtual Desktop Manager, which is to assist multitasking.

    The toolbar doesn't behave well, either; it won't wrap around lines, so if you happen to have your taskbar on the side of your screen, it insists on being at least 3.5cm wide.

    On the whole, this tool is interesting, but not reliable enough to be useful.

  2. Hank
    October 19, 2008 at 5:23 am

    Help I don't know how to enable it

    • Neil
      November 14, 2008 at 4:32 pm

      you just have to right-click on the taskbar and add the desktop manager toolbar

  3. Glen
    September 15, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Whenever I click the Browse button under Configure Desktop Images, it crashes Explorer.

    All windows from all desktops are always shown on the task bar. In my mind, one of the greatest benefits of virtual desktops is to reduce clutter in the task bar, but clearly that benefit is lost with Desktops.

    So I decided I didn't like the application, so I disabled the toolbar. But when I try to use one of the hotkeys (that should no longer be assigned when the application is not active), it crashes Explorer.

    Desktops is looking very buggy, so I recommend that others stay away from it.

  4. Crazii
    August 31, 2008 at 9:52 am

    This wasn't what I want but how can I remove it?

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      August 31, 2008 at 11:11 am

      Simply disable the toolbar and everything is back to the way it was.

  5. Eda
    August 30, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    I can't find the program mentioned from the link of Microsoft provided.