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Virtual desktops..what's possible?

By CharlesH
Oct 5, 2007
  1. Hello!

    I was wondering if there's such a program available as Virtual desktops for Windows XP, that let's you create various desktops, each with their individual programs (icons or shortcuts)? So for instance desktop 1 would be the audio
    desktop with all programs related to audio, desktop 2 would be the video desktop with all related video programs. My desktop is cluttered with so many icons, that it would be nice if I can arrange them using different desktops? I don't even know if it's technically possible, but I appreciate everyone's input.

    Best regards,
    CharlesH
     
  2. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,026

    You could do this using a different account for each type of desktop, logging between them as necessary.
     
  3. CharlesH

    CharlesH TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Virtaul desktops..what's possible

    Thanks for the reply. Does this mean I create additional user's when logging in at Window's ?

    Please advise,
    CharlesH
     
  4. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,026

    You create new users in the control panel > user accounts > create new account.
    Note that this will create a "my documents" folder for each new account so, as these files may not be available to other accounts when logged on, I suggest you use just one of the accounts for jobs where you are saving your data files.
     
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,714   +397

    No, no, no. Don't go creating new accounts. Get the Virtual Desktop Manager Powertoy from Microsoft. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx

    I've ran it in the past, used it for a couple years actually. I'm not sure it offers much of a real advantage. I think the icons stay regardless of what desktop you are on, only the task bar changes, but I'm not 100% sure anymore. It has been a long time since I used them.

    There are other 3rd party tools that let you do this, with more functionality, but right now the only one I can think of is LiteStep and it may not even be in production anymore. I've never used any of the others so I can't comment much about them.
     
  6. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,026

    I tried that (MS Powertoy) and it did more harm than good - which is why I did not suggest it as a solution this time.
    Sorry to argue about it - best make sure you have it all backed up before you use it!
     
  7. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,714   +397

    I never had any real problems with it. I just don't like the multiple user account 'solution' because then every program you install you need to make sure you are installing it so all users can use it. Now you have to be careful where you save data because the "Audio" user's desktop is inaccessible to the "Photo" user's desktop.

    Sure you could go in and make it so they can access each others desktop, but you then have to go several directories deep to get there (or create shortcuts), but then at that point are you really doing any better than just creating directories for each type on your already in use desktop?

    Then you have the user switching problem, 'fast user switching' isn't all that fast, incredibly slow actually compared to just clicking which desktop you want to use, or the keystroke to change. I think you will also see your RAM usage really being chewed up if you are running multiple users at once with programs open. I can't imagine that working very well with anything less than 2GB of RAM.

    Maybe MS's VDM isn't the best multiple desktop manager out there, but I'm sure using virtual desktops like he first asked about is a better solution than multiple users.
     
  8. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,026

    There you go CharlesH - we differ but I for one would be interested to know what you find by checking out the likes of LiteStep.
     
  9. CharlesH

    CharlesH TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Virtual desktops...what's possible

    Hi guys,

    Thanks very much for the input. In the last 6-8 hours (had some time to kill :))
    I've tried and installed various virtual desktops and indeed icons stay on all desktops, just the opened programs in its own window can be placed on the several desktops you may have running. This seems to be the case in all different virtual desktops I've tried. I also set up an additional account, giving the same rights as administrator and played around with this a little. You can certainly create an "audio" and "video" desktop with just those programs installed and as short cut icons, but the signing off and signing on (switch between users) does take awhile, so it's close to what I'd like to have but I like to switch between desktops by the click of the mouse. Who knows, maybe one of these days it'll be available (likely to be on a "newer" OS). So; I'll continue my search and see if something else comes along. I'll look into Litestep and see if anything is still being developed. If I do come across somehting that is close to what I'm looking for, I'll certainly log in and let you know. Again thanks for the feedback!
    Best regards,
    CharlesH
     
  10. ChrisLam

    ChrisLam TS Rookie Posts: 82

    I think you can install some shells or something to replace your desktop GUI or something. Maybe do a search on Google for something like this? There is a program out there called Aston Shell (be careful when trying it - there have been errors like corrupt default desktop shell and other things though they have a FAQ section that covers all the problems), but it is not free.

    Chris
     
  11. CharlesH

    CharlesH TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Virtual desktops...what's possible

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your input. I'll check it out as well.

    Best regards,
    CharlesH
     
  12. CharlesH

    CharlesH TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Virtual desktops...what's possible

    Hi guys,

    A few days further down the line and I can tell you I've tried various virtual desktop programs. The one I'm using right now is called Deskspace and comes with a nice cubic style design. It's more fancy than some other programs, but you can open up to a max of 4 desktops. No seperate settings for icons though, but none of these programs can do this, I now found out.
    Chris suggested trying Aston Shell and I've installed it on my other computer, to see what it's capabilities are. To be honest, it looks great and does pretty much
    what I want it to. You have no less than 4 sidebars available, which can easily be configured and adjusted to your hearts content. They're some neat plug-ins available to liven-up the desktop and it switches pretty easily back to the original explorer desktop. Some good "skins/themes"as well, so I'll continue
    experimenting with these 2 programs. So, thanks to everyone's suggestions, I'm a great deal wiser on this topic. Thanks again and best regards. CharlesH
     
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