How to Get Virtual Desktops on Windows XP

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This guest article was written by Emma from Laptopical.com, a site covering news and reviews for laptop computers.

Virtual desktops are an excellent tool for anybody who likes to multitask. They allow the user to run multiple desktops simultaneously from any laptop or desktop computer, which you can switch between at the touch of a button. Each of these desktops can have its own background and have its own applications loaded.

I like to use it as an easy way to separate my business applications from my leisure ones. It doesn’t come standard in XP, but there is some perfectly safe and easy to use software out there that will give you up to 4 desktops to work with.

First, go to the Microsoft PowerToys download page, and select DeskMan.exe from the right side of the screen (the file it actually downloads will be called DeskmanPowertoySetup.exe).

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Then double click the file and select “Complete” install. It usually doesn’t take very long.

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Now it’s installed, so let’s test it. Go to the bottom of the screen and right click on the taskbar, then select toolbars. You’ll see there’s now an option for Desktop Manager. Click it.

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This brings up the desktop manager toolbar, which integrates with your taskbar and looks like this:

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You guessed it, each one of those four buttons corresponds to a different desktop. The green button on the left pulls up a view that previews all four and allows you to select between them. Right clicking on any of the buttons brings up some options to set different backgrounds for each desktop, or to assign shortcut keys for easy access.

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And just like that…

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You’ve got four desktops! Simply click on any of the desktops in the preview screen above to bring that one to the front. (Note there is also a way to get virtual desktops in Windows Vista, but that’s another article.)

 

Download Virtual Desktop Manager from microsoft.com

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/8/08
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