Create Virtual Desktops with WindowsPager

Is your monitor big enough? I didn’t think so. It is difficult to have too large a monitor, but restrictions on finances and space on your desk are likely to limit just how large a screen you are able to take advantage of. But while investing in a very monitor can be expensive, it can be comparatively cheap to add a second screen to your computer.

But even if you have two screens, there will almost certainly have been occasions when you simply do not have enough room to easily manage all of the open windows you are working with, and this is when a virtual desktop tool such as WindowsPager really comes into its own.

Whatever the size of your monitor, there are times when we could all use a little extra space

Whatever the size of your monitor, there are times when we could all use a little extra space

WindowsPager can be used to create an unlimited number of virtual desktops, and as well as provide you with extra space to work with programs and windows.

It also gives you the chance to get a little better organized – you can dedicate one virtual desktop to web related app, while another could be office tools, games or graphics programs.

1. Download and Launch WindowsPager

The first thing you’ll need to do is head over to the WindowsPager web site at http://windowspager.sourceforge.net where you should scroll down the page and click the “Free download” link.

Download the zip file and extract its contents before opening the folder followed by either the sub-folder called “windowspager” (if you are using a 32-bit version of Windows), or the one called “windowspager64bit” (if you have a 64-bit version). You can then start the program by launching the executable file called “windowspager”.

WindowsPager is a free tool that enables you to work with more than one desktop

WindowsPager is a free tool that enables you to work with more than one desktop

2. Moving Between Virtual Desktops

You’ll notice that in the taskbar, there is a new four paned section. This is your virtual desktop preview area and you initially have four desktops to work with. You should see that the first of the four desktop previews has a series of icons – these represent any programs and windows that are currently open on your main desktop.

WindowsPager gives you four virtual desktops to work with to start with

WindowsPager gives you four virtual desktops to work with to start with

To move to another virtual desktop, just click on of the other three empty desktop previews. When you do so, any open programs and windows will vanish and you will be able to see your desktop in its naked state – any files and folders you have stored on the desktop will be visible.

As you open folders and program, the taskbar thumbnails will be updated with previews

As you open folders and program, the taskbar thumbnails will be updated with previews

You can now launch different applications and these will remain on the current desktop, keeping them separate from anything else you were working with. The desktop preview will always enable you to keep an eye on what is happening on desktops other than the one that is currently active.

3. Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Just like all of the best power tools – and this is exactly how WindowsPager should be viewed – the program supports the use of keyboard shortcuts.

If you don’t want to move your hands from the keyboard when you’re working, keyboard shortcuts enable you to quickly jump to another desktop you have set up so you can work with another application.

If you don't want to use the mouse, keyboard shortcuts are available for desktop navigation

If you don't want to use the mouse, keyboard shortcuts are available for desktop navigation

You can jump to a specific desktop by holding down the Windows key and control and pressing the numbers “1-4″ on the number pad. You can also use the arrow keys to move back and forth. If you’d like to use different shortcuts, you can edit the windowspager.ini file in the same folder as the program – the code is commented to make it clear which section needs to be edited.

You can choose new keyboard shortcuts by editing WindowsPager's configuration file

You can choose new keyboard shortcuts by editing WindowsPager's configuration file

4. Creating More Desktops

The same .ini file can also be used to adjust the number of virtual desktops if you feel you could do with a couple more, or find that the default number of four is too many.

At the very top of the file look for the” [Layout]” heading and beneath this you’ll see settings for the number of rows and columns that should appear in the taskbar. Make sure you do not have WindowsPager running (just right click it and select “Quit”) before making the changes and saving the file.

Editing the configuration file also makes it possible to create more desktop as required

Editing the configuration file also makes it possible to create more desktop as required

 

5. Moving apps around

The primary way in which you can control which virtual desktop a particular window appears on is to first switch to that desktop and then launch it. But it is also possible to move programs and windows between desktops, and this can be achieved in a couple of ways.

Windows can be moved between desktop by dragging thumbnails in the taskbar previews

Windows can be moved between desktop by dragging thumbnails in the taskbar previews

 

The first option is to make use of the desktop previews. Using the left mouse button, click on the small icon representing the window you would like to move and simply drag it onto another desktop preview. The second method is to right click the title bar of a window and select the “Move to Desktop x” option from the context menu. Either method is quick and easy.

WindowsPager adds new entries of the context menu of titlebars to allow for easier movement between desktops

WindowsPager adds new entries of the context menu of titlebars to allow for easier movement between desktops

6. Running at startup

You’ll no doubt have noticed that you have not had to install WindowsPager – this is because it is a standalone program. If you want to ensure that virtual desktops are always available when you start your computer, you’ll need to manually add a link to the “Startup” group of the Start menu.

To start WindowsPager automatically you'll need to manually create a shortcut in the Startup group

To start WindowsPager automatically you'll need to manually create a shortcut in the Startup group

Once you have extracted the downloaded zip files to the folder of your choice, right click the windowspager.exe file and select the “Copy” option. Now click the Start button followed by “All Program” before right clicking the “Startup” folder and selecting “Open”.

Right click an empty area of the folder and select “Paste shortcut”, and the next time you start Windows the program will be ready for you to use right away.

Wrapping Up

WindowsPager is a very simple tool, but it’s one of those utilities that you will not only grow to love, you’ll also wonder how you ever lived without it!

Is there any comparable app that we should write about? Or are you fully satisfied with WindowsPager? Let us know in the comments and thank you so much for reading!


  • Rightside

    I like.. mDesktop

  • http://joe.fawcett.name/ Joe Fawcett

    There’s also ‘Desktops’ from the Microsoft/Sysinternals stable: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/cc817881
    Sounds very similar but looks a bit easier to configure as it has a dedicated config editor.
    Some people have reported problems with running IE in multiple instances though.

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