Finally, a Windows virtual desktop that just works

As I do a lot of development on my Macbook Air I’ve come to rely on Spaces, the virtual desktop built into OSX Lion. I like to have my browser, editor, and whatever else I need open full-screen in their own Space and quickly flip back and forward between them using the CTRL Arrow Keys combos. I’ve even been known to tolerate iTunes when it’s full-screen and hidden away in its own Space.

Having returned to working on Windows (7) after a long time away I became increasingly frustrated that there wasn’t an equal to Spaces. Even my dual 21-inch monitor setup feels cramped compared to my laptop. Fortunately there are a number of third-party virtual desktop apps available. Unfortunately most of them are either half-finished, no longer being developed or sacrifice utility for novelty effects.

I had almost given up hope of finding something that came close to the simplicity and productivity of Spaces when I stumbled across the (horribly named) Dexpot. Simply put, it’s free virtual desktop software for Windows that installs in a few minutes and just works. Apart from changing the hotkeys to be more like those on the Mac I didn’t bother with any configuration changes after install (though there are hundreds of options if that kind of thing interests you). Two minutes after install it was working exactly how I wanted it to and felt as if it had always been there. I don’t know why there is still no virtual windows manager built into Windows itself but, until there is, Dexpot is a great option.


Unrelated aside: This is my first blog post written in Byword, invoked via QuickCursor. Written by Jesse Grosjean, the developer of Write Room, QuickCursor is a small utility app that sits in your menu bar and allows you to start your preferred text editor by hotkey when you need to write e.g. in Gmail or, in this case, WordPress. Simply closing the document pastes the text from your editor back into the original text area. Yes, you could do the same using cut and paste but QuickCursor is a neater, more elegant solution and well worth a try.