Desktop multiplier

Create four unique Windows desktops on one PC with this free tool from Microsoft.

Desktops from Microsoft Sysinternals is a free tool that lets you create and organize up to four virtual desktops on one Windows system. Using it, you can arrange your applications, documents, and tools in specialized desktops for work, leisure, gaming, and so on. You can instantly toggle between desktops using programmable hot keys or a System Tray icon. Most desktop multipliers show active windows and hide the rest, but Desktops uses separate objects for each desktop, so they're truly customized and personalized. Desktops is portable and works in all versions of Windows from 98 to 7, including server editions.

When you first set up Desktops, you must specify the hot key modifier keys (Alt, Ctrl, Shift, or Windows) and choose either numbers or function keys to specify commands. We liked the number of choices and combinations because it made it easy to set up Desktops without having to change previously configured hot keys already associated with other programs. Desktops also remembers each application's unique association with that desktop, so you need to remember to configure programs you plan to use each time you set up a desktop. You can choose to have Desktops run at log-on or to activate it at need, too. We right-clicked the program icon in the System Tray, clicked Select Desktop, and small pop-up window appeared, divided into four sections with our current desktop displayed in one and the other three blank except for messages stating Press to Create Desktop 2 and so on. We clicked the second desktop image, and a new copy of our familiar desktop appeared, ready for customization. The program saved our new desktop automatically, just like Windows does, and we were able to leave it and return to it with a few clicks. It's easy to make changes to saved desktops, too: just open one and make the change.

Desktops lets you create genuine customized Windows desktops for highly specific uses and toggle between them at will. Few organizational tools we've tried can match that capability.

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