Tip: Use Finestra Virtual Desktops to bring order to your Windows chaos

Here's the rub: you can only afford one monitor, and you frequently find yourself wading through window after window trying to find the right document. Or worse still, you need to switch between two or three windows but keep selecting the wrong one because of the dozens of other open apps and windows cluttering up your desktop.

You could close all these down, or you could try a virtual desktop manager. This effectively takes one desktop and multiplies it a number of times, allowing you to organize your open windows into different virtual desktops: one for your work, another for browsing the web and a third for doing your accounts, for example. And when it comes to choosing the right tool for the job, look no further than Finestra Virtual Desktops.

There are a number of virtual desktop managers out there, but they're largely restricted in the number of desktops they support (typically four) and the functionality they provide. Finestra Virtual Desktops has plenty to recommend it: while it's set up with the default four virtual desktops in place, access the program's options dialogue box and you'll find you can add as many desktops as you want, although we suspect you'll be pushing the envelope wanting more than nine.

Switching between the desktops is simple too: either use a hotkey combination -- [Win] + the desktop's number on the numeric keypad -- or bring up the Switcher window, which divides the screen into thumbnail previews of each desktop, helping you find the right one quickly. You can even move windows between desktops: just bring it to the front and use the required hotkey combo ([Ctrl] + [Win] + the desktop number on the numeric keypad) to shunt it out of the way.

It's all very simple to use, but if you want real control -- including the ability to add, remove and rename desktops for easy identification -- then delve into the program's options dialogue box. Windows 7 users can also move between desktops using the program's taskbar icon, which provides a crude thumbnail of each desktop when you click it -- real-time previews will hopefully make an appearance in a future version.

Finestra Virtual Desktops is open source, and runs on Windows XP or later.

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