Split Your Desktop Into Two Using DesktopCoral [Windows]

Ryan Dube 12-04-2013

split desktopThere are a number of apps out there that have the sole purpose of organizing your desktop. A few years ago, Varun wrote about three desktop organization tools 3 Ways to Organize & De-Clutter Your Windows Desktop Read More to use to do just that, and of course the well known Fences app was one of them. Jeff also covered tools you can use to organize your Mac desktop How To Organize Your Mac Desktop With Spaces Read More as well.  It goes without saying that a busy computer leads to a hectic desktop – not unlike how a busy office usually results in a chaotic desk at work.


People usually develop their own systems to keep both kinds of desktops organized, whether it’s building “fences” around areas for certain types of shortcuts, organizing links and shortcuts into subfolders, or a long list of other ideas. Some work pretty well, but others don’t. For the most part, all of the usual approaches to desktop organization require constant maintenance and upkeep. If you aren’t careful, it’ll get away from  you again.

Well, one other approach that doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance – or even much thought for that matter – is an app called DesktopCoral.  Unlike Fences, or many other popular desktop organizing tools that section off areas of your desktop for organizational purposes, the purpose of DesktopCoral is actual to segregate your desktop into two distinct areas, and to hold them apart from each other.

Instead of thinking in terms of “sorting out” the mess of desktops you already have in place, DesktopCoral is actually used for a slightly different purpose. It is an area of your desktop that will be kept clear for an entirely different purpose – an area that can’t be intruded upon by other applications you may have maximized, or any of the icons that currently clutter your desktop.

Create a Corral of Free Space On Your Desktop

So, I think the name of the application is a misnomer. It should be Desktop Corral, because it essentially lets you create a separate corral for a distinct purpose. I’ll show you how this works below, but keep in mind that once you create this area, it is not considered a part of your normal desktop. When you maximize a window, it will maximize as though the edge of your desktop corral is the actual edge of the monitor. Slide an app over to the edge of the corral, and it’ll maximize the app along that side of the window, but it won’t intrude upon the space you’ve created.

When you first install and run the app (again, make sure to click on the option in the wizard NOT to install the adware toolbars), you’ll see the small square box below. 


split desktop

Place this box along any edge of your screen, and it’ll stretch the length of the screen and become the default width. This is essentially the corral – the space of your desktop that becomes untouchable by anything you’ve got going on elsewhere on your desktop.

split desktop into 2

Right click inside of the gray area to format the space, and select “Options” from the menu.


split desktop into 2

Inside of the options, you’ll want to select “Start with Windows”, and then if the size of the box is to your liking already, go ahead and check off “Transparent Mode” as well. This will make the box invisible.

split desktop into 2

However, if you want the boxed off area to be a little bigger, all you have to do is drag the edge of it to whatever width you’d like the box to be. Remember, this works just as well on the top or bottom of the screen as it does on the sides. It all depends on what you want to use that partitioned off space for.


split desktop into two

Once you’re ready, check off “Transparent Mode”, and the grey background disappears. You can actually customize that background if you want, so that it shows any image of your choosing – you just need to select the background image file in the Options window.

split desktop into two

So how does this work? Well, let’s say I have a To-Do list that I want to have always visible on my screen no matter what I’m doing. I would open up that list and slide it over into the protected area of my desktop.


split desktop into two

So now, in my regular desktop area, I can write, play games, resize and maximize windows, and none of those windows will ever maximize beyond the edge of the space that I created with DesktopCoral. The to-do list will always be visible on the desktop no matter what.

Split Your Desktop Into Two Using DesktopCoral [Windows] desktopcoral8

You can also use the area to lay out your desktop widgets without worrying about maximized windows messing around with their appearance. The space where those desktop widgets reside will remain safe from everything – so don’t worry about making them transparent. They’ll never be anywhere near the apps that you are using.

Split Your Desktop Into Two Using DesktopCoral [Windows] desktopcoral9

So, as with any app that I test, I like to try and take it to an extreme to see if an out of the box idea will work. In this case, I wondered if I could use DesktopCoral to actually split my desktop into two halves. Two distinct desktops that do not interfere with one another. I tried this by dragging the edge of the DesktopCoral all the way to the center of the main screen.

split desktop

I placed a few of my important windows that I always want open into the safe area. A browser window with Gmail open was one of them. The way you need to get windows into that “safe” area is interesting. You can’t drag the window into the area because it’ll force the application to maximize along the outside edge. Instead, you need to move as much of the window into the “safe” region without your mouse touching the edge. Then, you need to resize the window into the safe area. Don’t drag the titlebar with your mouse inside of the “safe” zone, because it’ll maximize the window back outside of the zone.

Split Your Desktop Into Two Using DesktopCoral [Windows] desktopcoral11

Once I’m done, as you can see below, I have two areas of my desktop that are protected by a demilitarized zone right down the middle of the desktop. I can maximize windows in the left side of the desktop all day, nothing will cover up the apps I have open on the right side of the desktop. It’s pretty cool.

Split Your Desktop Into Two Using DesktopCoral [Windows] desktopcoral12

DesktopCoral is one of those cool little apps that has a lot more hidden power than you may think, once you start playing around with it and seeing the things that you can dream up for it to do for you. Block off a section of the top of your desktop for important information widgets or status updates. Block off the left side for important navigational shortcuts that open up browser windows in the main desktop. Just use some creativity to come up with how you could use DesktopCoral for your own desktop.

Share your ideas and your feedback in the comments section below!

Image Credits: Rustic Gate Via Shutterstock

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  1. Fernando
    June 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    I cannot get this program to work whatsoever. My maximized windows still cover the area that's supposed to be reserved.

  2. Doc
    April 15, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    The program's name is "Desktop Coral," (an oceanic creature that creates coral reefs) but the article header image suggests "corral" (a pen for livestock). :)

    • Ryan Dube
      April 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      Yeah - I thought that was funny too. At first I thought maybe it was a foreign spelling of the word, but after a bit of research disproved that theory, I had to settle on the fact that the creators simply made a misspelling in the name. :-)

    • Doonat Assume
      September 23, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Maybe they were thinking about Coral as in Reefs, they are protected areas in the ocean? Protected by the EPA. .. So it would make sense because this program protects an area on your desktop.

  3. bi
    April 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Is this working good with Extended Desktop? I have some problems to keep it on the right side of the first screen.

  4. Scott Belcher
    April 12, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Been using this app for some time now and it's brilliant. Just what I needed to I can always see Rainmeter panels without the browser covering them. Highly recommended.