I’m a big fan of working with two or more monitors, and it’s something I’ll continue to recommend to everyone who spends any length of time working with their computer. The next best thing is to work with a virtual desktop program to gain access to extra workspace, but Dexpot is an app that combines the best of both worlds.
Even if you already have multiple monitors in use, surely you could still make use of a little extra space or some better organization? As well as being tremendously useful, Dexpot also gains points for being incredibly good looking – this is more than just your average virtual desktop tool.
Getting Up & Running
Dexpot is a free program that you can download from http://www.dexpot.de; save, install and you’re ready to get started in a matter of minutes. There is nothing too unusual about the installer, but make sure that you leave the default option of ‘Private use’ selected so that the program remains free. You will also want to watch out for the Linkury Smartbar toolbar which is bundled – just untick the relevant box to avoid installing this.
Once launched, you’ll see that there is an icon for Dexpot in the taskbar as well as the notification area. The taskbar icon takes the form of a multi-document window – much like when you have several Word files open or multiple instances of Explorer. Click the taskbar icon and you’ll see a preview pop-up that lets you switch between the four virtual desktops that are created by default.
You can also access different virtual desktop by right clicking the system tray icon and from the menu that appears here you can also switch between desktop as well as using some OS X-style features. Select the ‘Window catalog’ option and you’ll see a series of previews of every open window and program you have running, and you can just click any of them to access them – it does not matter which desktop they are located on.
In a similar vein, you can select the ‘Full-screen preview’ option to view a preview of individual desktops and a quick click is all that it takes to switch to it.
While there’s nothing to stop you from using Dexpot immediately after installation – and it’s all pretty straightforward in terms of moving between desktops – there are plenty of options to explorer. Right click the system tray icon and select Settings. You can start by choosing the number of virtual desktops you would like to work with, and you’ll also want to make sure that you activate the ‘Start with Windows’ option.
Within the Settings screen, one section you’ll want to pay some attention to is Controls. here you can learn the default keyboard shortcuts that can be used to navigate through your desktops, or you can define your own. There are also shortcuts that can be used to move a selected window to a different desktop, changing window transparency levels and much more.
Form the right click menu, select the Configure Desktops option and you can choose to name each of your desktop and assign each one a unique background to help make them easier to identify. If you would like to keep one or more of your desktops private, you can opt to add a password so that anyone else that has access to your computer will not be able to access anything you do not want them to – this is also a way to enable multiple users to make use of the same computer and have their own apps running on their own desktop.
There are various ways in which you can move between desktop and move apps between desktops; it’s best to give them all a try and see what works best for you. One option is to select the ‘Assign applications’ menu item and them choose which desktop a currently running app should be moved to when it is launched.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably fall in love with Dexpot and wish that you could use it all the time. Should you find yourself working on more than one computer from time to time, you might be interested in investigating the portable version of the program. This is not a separate app as the version you have installed can be easily transformed into a tool that you can place on your USB drive and take with your from machine to machine.
The process has to be carried out manually, but all you need to do is navigate to the Dexpot installation folder and create a blank file called portable.ini. You can then copy the contents of the folder to a USB drive and start using the program on different computers.
I’ve tried various virtual desktop tools over the years, and I have to say that Dexpot is one of the best – perhaps the best. Its support for multiple monitors is impressive as is the range of keyboard shortcuts. This is an application that has a huge element of style to it as well – it is good looking as well as functional and it’s likely to quickly become one of those tools that make you wonder how you ever survived without it.