Facebook Desktop watches your Facebook page so you don't have to

Monitor updates to your Facebook page with this free desktop app.

The average Facebook user spends 6 hours a day checking his page and messages: true or false? False, but not by much, at least in our experience. There are all kinds of ways to make the most of the time you spend on Facebook, and one of the most useful kinds is free widget-like apps that keep you signed in on Facebook and check your messages and updates. Like Desktop Facebook, for instance. This simple freeware app stays signed in to Facebook and keeps track of your Messages, Pokes, Friend Requests, and Wall Count. Clicking on any notification opens the page in Facebook. It doesn't open messages and other Facebook features on your desktop; it simply tracks your notifications. But you can park its compact window in a corner of your desktop and keep an eye on your Facebook account without having to refresh your browser every few minutes (or seconds). It requires .NET 2 or better and an active Facebook account.

Desktop Facebook's slim interface has functional tabs labeled Login, Me, and Options. We started by clicking Sign In via Facebook. Once we were logged in, a message told us we could close our browser window and return to the app. Facebook Desktop now displayed our account name and picture and listed the number of new Messages, Pokes, Friend Requests, and Wall Posts. Clicking any of them opened the appropriate page in our browser. The app offers a few options, including Start with Windows and Automatically Log In When Available. You can also set the frequency with which Facebook Desktop checks for updates and choose between Scroll Bar and Multiline options for Tabs. We found the Multiline display a bit less confusing at first, but the scrolling view is probably what most users will settle on, and it's the default choice.

Facebook Desktop worked fine in 32-bit Windows, but the app displayed an error message in 64-bit Windows 7 (Compatibility Mode) and failed to log on to our Facebook page. Facebook Desktop is free and uninstalls cleanly, though, so we recommend trying it for yourself, if you like the idea.

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