capsule review

nSpaces Gives You Simple Virtual Desktops for Free

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder nSpaces

    PCWorld Rating

    This simple utility offers four virtual desktops, but no content previews, and switching is slow.

Virtual desktop software nSpaces (free/donationware) provides four virtual workspaces, or spaces that you may split your applications and documents between. For instance, you could have your word processing stuff on one desktop, your spreadsheets on another, your email application and messages on the third, and a movie on the last. The idea is to organize your work and reduce clutter.

nSpaces desktop switcher lets you see the four virtual desktops, but doesn't show you the difference until you define a background image for each.
Alas, while nSpaces is stable (unlike the far slicker Finestra Virtual Desktop), it's also rather primitive in comparison. It's easy to switch desktops if you use nSpaces hot keys. Not so much if you use the system tray menu. Using the tray requires at least two steps: Right-click the nSpaces icon, then select the space or launch the switcher then choose one of the four spaces there.

I suggest that you take advantage of nSpaces's ability to let you define a different background for each space. There's no precise preview of the virtual desktops with their applications and open windows as with Finestra Virtual Desktops. Instead, only the desktop background image differentiates them. Changing the solid blue background nSpaces defaults to won't cut it--the background will still be black, or blank. Alas, the program also seemed to lose my choice of backgrounds at one point, and to be honest, I'm not sure why.

All in all, nSpaces works well, but is more difficult to use than it should be. Hopefully, future versions will be friendlier. It's free to use, and if you see promise, you can donate to the developer to help out.

--Jon L. Jacobi

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This simple utility offers four virtual desktops, but no content previews, and switching is slow.

    Pros

    • Stable virtual desktops
    • Simple

    Cons

    • No previews
    • Slow switching
Related:
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.