Sysinternals offers utility for virtual desktops

This free tool lets you organize your screen.

Desktops, a new application for organizing the clutter on your screen, is among the free utilities now available from the Sysinternals website. The site, created by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, has been around since 1996 and was acquired by Microsoft in 2006. The Sysinternals site and utilities continue to get updates and new releases.

Desktops provides up to four virtual desktops that you can switch between using hotkeys or a tray icon. The Sysinternals site suggests you could use one for web browsing, one for email, and one for your productivity software. Because Desktops uses a Windows desktop object for each virtual desktop, it’s lightweight and less prone to bugs than some virtual desktop applications, but it lacks some functions you might expect—you can’t move applications from one desktop to another, for example, and to quit Desktops you should log off from Windows.

Also among the many utilities from Sysinternals is the recently updated AutoRuns. AutoRuns displays the items that start automatically when your computer starts, similar to the Msconfig utility. AutoRuns provides its information in a format that is easier to understand, however. It’s especially useful because you can have it hide items published by Microsoft, letting you see which applications have added themselves to your startup.

There are over 60 free utilities in the Sysinternals Suite, and they offer everything from a utility to hunt down rootkits to an advanced system monitoring tool. Just be careful when using the older utilities on newer versions of Windows. There are reports in the Sysinternals forums of problems with some utilities and Windows Vista.

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