How to get Virtual Desktops on Windows (with different icons on each desktop)

Today, I’ll share a tip on Windows OS, which is having several desktops available, with different programs – as well as icons  – on each one.

Tired of my Windows desktop bloated of icons, I searched for a solution

Getting used to Linux for 1 year now, I found Windows increasingly frustrating, not able to get a simple and efficient solution like every Mac or Linux user are used to. To that end, I searched how to work it out on a Windows 7 build, and get a similar result for 2 reasons:

  1. my desktop was crowded with unncessary icons, like with ebooks to read later, last music I found interesting, or pictures
  2. it’s a big productivity gain to have dedicated desktops, for instance one for each part of a daily job – all with a unique desktop folder for the same user.

Dexpot looked like a good one

Seaching over the net, I found Dexpot, a german freeware solution for personal use (but paying for freelancer, business and ngo). As a personal user it’s really nice. Basically Dexpot allows a Win 7/8 user to have several desktops with programs in each virtual desktop, totally separated like a VM.

Switching between Virtual Desktops

Dexpot bar

Dexpot bar

In the above screenshot, you see dextop at right, with 1 selected, as for 1st desktop. This icon can be mouse clicked to change between each desktop. That’s simple. Keyboard shortcuts are fully cusomizable too.

Move icons manually in your Windows user folder

Most of the time, you can move icons between Virtual Desktops inside Dexpot. But I got some trouble with some icons, so here is a good tip.

In your Windows user directory (c:\users\yourname\) you now have “Desktop 1, 2, 3, 4”, one folder for each desktop. You can just move icons from the regular Windows desktop folder (Desktop 1) to each of the others. The GUI doesn’t always recognize them, so I prefer this manual way.

To make it work at every Windows start

After you setup Dexpot, don’t forget to right click icon > settings > automatic launch at Windows startup.

It’s one of my best productivy saver for years. I now have 4 desktops, each one with different icons on my PC. With no performance hit at all. If you use it often, feel free to buy it to support developers.