Best Free Virtual Desktop Manager

 
Introduction

These are the best free virtual desktop managers you can get from this review. Check them out and see which one is elected to be the top pick that can be equivalent or even better than other commercial virtual desktop managers.

 
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Discussion

Dexpot allows even more configuration for each of its 20 possible desktops. It has a well organized interface that enables easy switching among desktops and quick movement of windows. The online documentation is slightly incomplete and the most active section of the online forum is in German. However, this should not prove to be much of a hindrance, owing to the ease of use of the application. Unfortunately, Dexpot's installer is bundled with OpenCandy, an advertising program which recommends other software when you install Dexpot. (See Gizmo's Freeware Policy on OpenCandy.)

 

VirtuaWin is a competent but basic product that depends on third-party modules for extra features but unfortunately, there aren't many around.

 

Next is Virtual Dimension. With a more minimalist and "straight to the point" approach, I found it to be fast and easy to install, configure and use.  Documentation seems to be lacking a bit, but once again, like Dexpot, it should not be much of a problem to begin using this little VDM.

 

Finally there is Microsoft Virtual Desktop Manager (MSVDM). I had a fairly pleasant experience with MSVDM. Although lacking in some of the features found in most of the other applications, it makes up by its small size and simplicity. If you've looking for just the basics in a VDM, MSVDM is a good choice.

The four Virtual Desktop Managers I reviewed are all very capable products but I have to recommend Dexpot due to its attractive interface, ease of use, various language versions and list of features.

 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

Dexpot
4
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Attractive interface, ease of use, various language versions and features list.
Online documentation is slightly incomplete. The installer is bundled with adware OpenCandy.
1.6.9 build 2266
2.66 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Free for private use only
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP to 8

Dexpot is now bundled with OpenCandy, see above link in Discussion section for more information.
Dexpot 1.4 is also available for Windows 95/98/ME/NT4
Version history available here.

VirtuaWin
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
VirtuaWin is a competent and basic product that depends on third-party modules for extra features.
Unfortunately, there aren't many third party modules around.
http://virtuawin.sourceforge.net/
4.4
426 KB
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 9x to 7

View the changelog here

Virtual Dimension
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Fast and easy to install, configure and use.
Documentation seems to be lacking a bit.
0..94
399.8 KB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 95 to XP

v0.94 beta available 09 July, 2005
v0.95 alpha available 20 May, 2013

Microsoft Virtual Desktop Manager
3
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Small size and simplicity.
Lacking in some of the features found in most other applications.
1.0
550 KB
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows XP

 
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Tags

virtual desktop, free virtual desktop, virtual desktop program, freeware

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Comments

by marinus (not verified) on 7. October 2012 - 17:56  (100440)

I've tried at least a dozen VDM's now and they all fall into two categories: too simple, or useful but buggy and/or otherwise flawed.
Dexpot is a perfect example of latter. You have to REALLY need a VDM to scale its learning curve. And the jerks package something called "Hotspot Shield" No, opting out during install doesn't stop it, and it was hard to remove. [PS: app also gets lousy reviews]. Boo!
VirtuaWin was nice but hotkeys were a problem.
A simple VDM that allows specific aps to be assigned to different desktops, it just doesn't exist!

by Mugetsu Tensho on 13. September 2012 - 19:58  (99227)

Hello there guys/girls.

My apologies about the length of time between my previous post and this one. I was involved in a car accident that left me in Hospital for quite some time. I have only just recently got out. Please bear with me. I will be putting up a list of Virtual Desktop Managers. Please bear with me a little longer. My deepest apologies for not posing sooner but I've been in A&E for months

Regards

Mugetsu

by rasselas on 14. September 2012 - 16:49  (99264)

Thanks for you commitment Mugetsu, hope you have an pleasant recovery. :)

by JPaz (not verified) on 28. April 2012 - 23:16  (92735)

I like very much Dexpot, been using it for 1 year. Only probs: sometimes all icons get in the same desktop when shutting down and when using a data show some icons move from desktop to other. Very annoying but still not found a better one free.

by alexandru1948 (not verified) on 27. April 2012 - 6:09  (92672)

hi!

i have a problem too.

isn't possible to run mouse independent on each desktop?
i try to run a mouse recorder on a desktop but when i swith desktops with te hotkey, that mouse recorder run on every desktop. i want it to run only on one desktop where i leave the page with my game open

by Fernandinande (not verified) on 18. April 2012 - 13:38  (92249)

I've used mostly Dexpot and some VirtuaWin over the years - but mostly the "Emerge" window manager (replaces "explorer") which is like blackbox/fluxbox. However, tho fine with 32bit, it's not working well with a new 64bit Win7 install, so I tried the proggies mentioned here - and thanks to all for your suggestions:

Dexpot: Wouldn't install; it suggested a solution which didn't work. It's more complicated than I need anyway.

Desktops (MS): Worked fine, but each desktop needed to be customized by itself, which might be what some people want (toolbar, background, etc); I want them all the same. It had a serious bug where it'd show the wrong desktop as active.

Finestra: It wanted to install another 50 Meg or so of other stuff before it'd install; no thanks.

nSpaces: bogus downloader/installer. Didn't get any further.

Windowspager: Ended up using this one. It's quite simple, "portable" install (copy files), and so far completely reliable and usable, with almost no configuration but pretty decent as-is. It has a good thumbnail of each desktop and you can move windows to other desktops. I *think* it's supposed to show desktop-previews on mouse hover, but it doesn't.

by bw00ds on 19. March 2012 - 14:02  (90833)

(Using Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit)

After reading the comments here, I avoided Dexpot and tried all the others, including the ones recommended by the readers. A couple came close to what I wanted and worked pretty well. But I wanted a configurable VD that I could switch using the mouse in as few clicks as possible. Being dissatisfied with all the others, I finally tried Dexpot.

I've been using it for a week now and found that of all the VDs, this one is the best. It does have its quirks once in a while, but nothing major. The only quirk I've found so far is that occasionally--and I can't quite describe this as it hasn't happened enough for me to figure out the details--I think it gets mixed up as to which desktop a particular window belongs. I believe this has only happened with Chrome. Firefox displays no such behavior, nor any other app. (I think.)

One other strange thing is that on my Logitech Performance MX mouse, I have one of the buttons programmed to go back a page in a web browser. When I'm using Firefox, this takes me back a virtual desktop.

I have Dexpot configured so that I have icons on the taskbar for each desktop and the icons show the open windows. I just simply click on the desktop I want. Or I use the hotkeys that I've configured.

I'm pleased with Dexspot.

by terrawarra on 9. January 2012 - 10:38  (86865)

Tried Dexpot for a few days and uninstalled it... hot keys were a bit fussy and sometimes desktops became unstable.

Tried another one today called, "Tri-Desk-A-Top" which has been around for a couple of years, last updated 10 November 2011. It was developed by Microsoft C#.NET so I'm hoping that means good things. Tiny download of 323.98KB.
Very simple to use... three small icons are placed in the system tray, they are numbered 1, 2 and 3 because that's how many desktops it creates. Left-click on any of these to swap desktops.. also Right-click menu on the icons gives options to transfer one desktop to another.
Uses very little system resources and is lightning quick.
Very little info available on the Web such as users reviews which is surprising considering it's been around for a while.
http://windows.podnova.com/software/029433.htm

by vyr (not verified) on 29. November 2011 - 11:43  (84106)

yeah, virtualwin failed for me - hot keys didn't worked, without any error sign, just plain NO :)

by dion on 27. October 2011 - 1:23  (82201)

I find other one nSpaces
http://www.bytesignals.com/nspaces/
only 742kb, it's GUI very cool and simple to use.
Also find a review at lifehacker.
http://lifehacker.com/5827910/nspaces-adds-easy-customizable-virtual-des...

by koosie (not verified) on 20. October 2011 - 13:16  (81781)

mdesktop is exactly where i look for however you can not right click on a virtual desktop to copy paste something is reported 3 times nothing is done about it anyone else has something simular as mdesktop that really works good? i do not need fancy stuff just good working stuff and i prefer portable

by Mehrdad (not verified) on 22. September 2011 - 5:57  (80086)

Thanks for your good product.
But It has a problem that when moving out and then back to the first desktop, it can not retain the previous order.
I think its a big problem.

by jack20four (not verified) on 10. August 2011 - 4:58  (77354)

I did not find anyone mentioning "Desktops." So far it's the lightest and simplest there is. Although not configurable but is simply what it is - Virtual Desktop, and gives you four virtual desktops.

by DP (not verified) on 9. June 2011 - 12:46  (73551)

mDesktop: http://code.google.com/p/mdesktop/

No installation. Simple, small, fast (< 300k), free. Works on 64-bit. Use Ctrl-Win-{left,right} to cycle through windows. Very basic functionality -- but that is what I wanted. runs using less than 600k with 6 virtual desktops.

by Penworthy (not verified) on 5. June 2011 - 16:32  (73288)

DO NOT install Microdesk as it contains the following potentially harmful spyware:

Trojan.Crypt.CFI.Gen

by Someone (not verified) on 19. February 2011 - 0:28  (66691)

I have found this to work very well on win 7 64;

http://windowspager.sourceforge.net/

by Anonymous Lurking Coward :) (not verified) on 18. January 2011 - 9:55  (64769)

Check also the new Finestra VD (http://vdm.codeplex.com/). Works on XP, Vista *and* Seven.

by Anonymous Knucklehead (not verified) on 19. February 2011 - 15:18  (66731)

Finestra is the absolute best one out there. I am surprised that it didnt get reviewed

by John Hardin (not verified) on 21. September 2010 - 17:27  (58219)

I can't live without Virtual Dimension, but I cannot get VD 0.94 to work on my new Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit install. Are there some special compatibility options that need to be set to get it to work?

by Vector (not verified) on 8. September 2010 - 19:25  (57470)

Try enabling SevenDex on Win7 and pinning it to your taskbar (in position 1). Then use -1 to cycle (with preview) through your virtual desktops!

by Anonymous on 2. June 2010 - 5:39  (50867)

virtual desktop manager is amazing because it change the disktop within a sec..... i love it

by Anonymous on 28. May 2010 - 18:04  (50514)

I also use VirtuaWin, and in my current note-Lab I'm using: [3 Virtual desktops] (1): Host (My Note, Windows XP); (2): VM1 (Sun Virtuabox running Linux in a full screen mode); (3): VM2 (Sun Virtuabox running Vista in a full screen mode)...... The best thing is to configure the "enable mouse support" for 5 secs, so I can switch VMs easy-peasy :)... I also found that the auto-switch addin is really good to create a monitoring systems (I'ts hopping the full screens apps eash 2sec). Amazing.

[]'s
Mario

by Anupam on 11. May 2010 - 13:02  (49537)

Moo0 has released multiple desktop software :

http://www.moo0.com/software/MultiDesktop/

by Anonymous on 5. January 2010 - 23:16  (40356)

I'M looking for a multimonitor support. Any suggestions?

by Anonymous on 17. April 2010 - 9:19  (47836)

I just use the Windows own support for that. Always works well for me on XP, Vista, and 7. Just plug your other monitor in and then right click desktop, go to your screen resolution/display settings and manage it from there.

Other than that often graphics cards will put an option on your right click desktop context. If you follow that it may be able to sort it out for you.

by Anonymous on 9. December 2009 - 23:58  (38158)

You could add a lot to the usefulness of the reviews if you specified whether a specific VDM handled different screen resolutions for each desktop. I would only use a VDM for this reason (e.g. for games). Regards, Andrew.

by Anonymous on 28. January 2010 - 7:20  (42256)

Which VDM's allow this?

by Anonymous on 21. April 2010 - 15:39  (48139)

Dexpot allows this. I have yet to experiment with the others.

by arunj on 8. December 2009 - 10:25  (38067)
by Anonymous on 18. November 2009 - 11:31  (36836)

Hey guys, to those of you who suggested the different wallpapers are causing the lag, thanks very much! Was quite frustrating until I read that. A godamn horrific shame that it cant support such a simple function, but ahh well.

Jax.

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