Increasing Productivity with Virtual Desktops

When you're designing a website you know how many windows you can have open: code editor, web browser(s), Photoshop, terminal window (for SVN or CVS), etc. You're desktop gets crowded! Sure, there are various windows management tools in every operating system, but when you have five or more windows open it still gets crowded. This problem is quickly solved by virtual desktops, which allow you to group sets of windows into their own "desktop".

Screenshot of OS X Spaces

Before I purchased my Macbook, I just dealt with one desktop, largely because I had two huge monitors (where overlap was uncommon), but also because there weren't many good virtual desktop solutions for OS X. However, I have finally started to use Spaces - a new feature of OS X Leopard - to organise my workspace environment and hence to increase my productivity. It's alleviated a lot of window searching and allows me to multitask a little bit more (which is something I try to avoid, but do nonetheless). Apple did a good job with Spaces because it's intuitive and integrated well with the rest of the operating system.

I wish they would have added a little icon on one of the function keys for Spaces, like they did for Expose and the Dashboard. Rather, the default keyboard shortcut is F8 and on a Mac laptop that's already assigned to the play/pause function, so you have to press the function key too. Only a minor annoyance, but they could've done better with that.

If you're not using OS X Leopard (which I assume is most of you), then here are a few other virtual desktop applications for Windows:

GNOME and KDE have virtual desktop support built right into them, so you don't need anything extra! I hope that using virtual desktops helps to increase your productivity!