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Organize Your XP Desktop with Virtual Desktop Manager

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 8/2/2009

Microsoft Virtual Desktop Manager (MSVDM) is a popular XP PowerToy that helps you manage your desktop. If you work with a lot of open programs and windows, this is for you!

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    Get Rid of Clutter with Virtual Desktop Manager

    Microsoft Virtual Desktop Manager (MSVDM) allows you to organize a busy and cluttered Desktop. If you work with many open programs, you can now manage them on four different Desktops. You can switch between the Desktops using buttons on the Taskbar or shortcut keys that you configure.

    Once it’s downloaded, Desktop Manager is activated by right-clicking an empty area of the Taskbar, pointing to Toolbars, and clicking Desktop Manager. You'll see the numbers 1 through 4 on your Taskbar, and each represents an available Desktop configuration.

    To configure the first Desktop, click the icon for number 1 and then open the program or programs you want to show on that Desktop. Then click the icon for number 2, and do the same. Once all four Desktops are configured, you can move a program from one Desktop to another by selecting the Desktop number from the Taskbar, using Alt+Tab, or selecting the Desktop you want when all four are showing. This provides a really neat way to unclutter your Desktop. To select a Desktop, click it.

    Here are some rules for working with the Virtual Desktop Manager:

    To configure a Desktop, choose a Desktop number from the Taskbar and then open or start a program to use for it.

    To create a Desktop background for a particular Desktop, right-click the Desktop number in the Taskbar and choose Configure Desktop Images. From the resulting dialog box, choose an image to use.

    To configure a shortcut key for moving between Desktops, right-click a Desktop number in the Taskbar and choose Configure Shortcut Keys. Choose the key combination to get to the various Desktops you have configured.

    To get help at any time, right-click any Desktop number in the Taskbar and click MSVDM Help.

    To choose a Desktop when all four are showing, click on the one to use.

    To show all four Desktops at once, click the icon to the left of the 1 in the Taskbar. It’s called the Preview button.

    To exit Virtual Desktop Manager, right-click the Taskbar, point to Toolbars, and uncheck Desktop Manager.

    This software comes with complete help files and can be quite effective once you get the hang of it. It can be used to create a sort of quad-monitor effect, where programs can remain on a single Desktop until needed, thus not taking up space on the current one. It’s well worth the download!