Mac and Linux have “workspaces”. Known as virtual desktops in the productivity circle, they allow you to use multiple desktops at the same time. So you can have an entire desktop running a set of programs while your current desktop has no clue about it. Of course I can joke about how you can use this in your college or workplace to keep that game, video, or social media window off the eyes of pesky onlookers. But workspaces are useful in boosting your productivity as well.
Virtual desktops allow you to organize your windows according to use cases. So all your work related stuff can be on one desktop while chat apps or RSS reading can be on another. It’s less distracting than having everything open on one desktop or juggling between minimized/maximized windows. Oh and there are keyboard shortcuts to quickly switch between the desktops.
Cool Tip: When it comes to managing virtual desktops, Dexpot is the app to rely on.
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Dexpot is a free app that allows you to create up to 20 desktops (although you really shouldn’t go there) but be careful while installing – it bundles unnecessary software. Choose Custom Installation and uncheck the extra downloads. The app also has a cool Full-screen preview mode where you can see all of your desktops on the fly and drag and drop windows between them.
If you are that 20-desktop kind of guy, beware – when I say all, I mean all 20 previews of your created desktops will show up on your screen at once! As I said, you really shouldn’t go there.
Dexpot, once activated, lives in the taskbar. You can right-click the icon to see options and change the desktops or double click to directly see the full-screen preview of all the desktops.
Customizing Settings And Shortcuts
To get the best out of the app, let’s dive into Settings.
The first thing you want to do is go to the Controls panel and assign shortcuts to your most used desktops and the Full-screen preview feature. You can also assign shortcuts to quickly move windows to a given desktop.
For example, Alt+1 will bring you to desktop one while Alt+3 will take you to desktop 3.
Dexpot offers a quick way to switch between desktops. Go to the Controls -> Mouse switch panel and check the Activate mouse switch. From the bottom bar select the edges you want to activate the feature. You can adjust the delay as well. This will make sure that you don’t accidentally change desktops when just moving windows.
Once set up, this is how it works.
Next, you want to go to the Plugins and Extras panel. Here you want to enable Mouse Events and then click Configure. Select hot corners for your most used features like alternate desktop or your catalog view.
This allows you to move over to a hot corner, say top-left and get a snapshot of all current desktops. Or go to the bottom-right corner to quickly switch to desktop 2.
Another plugin called SevenDex brings Windows 7 style preview to the task bar icon. So you can hover over the Dexpot icon to see a preview of all the active desktops and quickly switch to them.
To get the most out of Dexpot and to improve your productivity, make sure you do the following things.
Sort desktops by use and assign windows accordingly
Activate keyboard shortcuts and mouse-over hot corners to quickly switch between desktops
Use full-screen preview mode to drag application windows between desktops on the fly