The quest for amazing software continues. This time it comes in an unusually small and simple package. Desktops v2.0 is a minuscule program available from Windows Sysinternals website and is hosted on the Microsoft website. This gem weighs in at 61kb or roughly 4% the size of a floppy disk you might have owned 15 years ago. The size means it’s not going to slow down your system or consume a lot of hard drive space.
What it does:
Despite it’s tiny size it packs a serious software punch. With the press of a keystroke you can now have up to 4 completely independent desktops available on your computer. Mac users might recognize this functionality from the built in Mission Control app. It’s frequently used as a point of contention between the 2 operating systems.
Why you want it:
Effectively you can have 4 computers running within all the same hardware. This gives you impressive organizational flexibility. Keep all your movie watching and song playing apps open off screen waiting for you to finish that paper you were working on. Or for the more tech savvy, keep all your test programs open on one desktop while you program on the other. The possibilities are limited by your creativity and workflow but having the option is worth the extremely small amount of effort to obtain it. Being officially part of the Microsoft world gives me more confidence in it than your average 3rd party app. Especially given how bad the software attempting to perform this function has been previously.
How to get it:
The setup for this program is easier than installing Chrome on a new computer. Go to the website – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/cc817881.aspx and download or follow this direct download link. Copy the one file and double click to launch. Configuration is 2-3 clicks and you’re done.
The Dark Side
Some programs don’t like being open in both places. Most programs which have an icon in the bottom right corner (the app tray) will not be very happy about running on a second desktop. Most of these applications check to see if they are running already and wont understand why you’re asking them to launch again. Google Chrome is probably the most notable example of this. To get Chrome working on your 2nd desktop follow these instructions.
Additionally, the Windows Start menu will only open on the primary desktop. This can make getting the apps you want to run a bit more challenging. This hasn’t been much of a problem for me as 99% of the applications I use have icons on the task bar and desktop. If you’re running into consistent issues try adding a shortcut to this folder C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs This is where windows stores your start menu and all the shortcuts contained within.
Overall the good outweighs the bad by quite a lot. It’s definitely worth a look and “uninstalling” is as easy as deleting the Desktops.exe file from your computer. Happy multitasking!