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Posted 27 Oct 2007


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Multiple Desktops

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4.69/5 (22 votes)
27 Oct 2007CPOL3 min read
Simple Dialog based Win32 application that provides multiple desktops for windows platform as available in the Linux System


This is a simple Win32 Dialog based application that provides multiple desktop support on windows platform as present in the LINUX system. The application provides you the option to create 1 to 3 desktops. Through these different desktops, you can easily separate your applications. This helps a lot when you have some application that you don't want to close by mistake as you can put it on other desktops. The application also shows the last state of each newly created desktop snapshot in the default desktop.

Screen Shot

Following is the screen shot of the window which shows the last state of all the other desktops. You will be able to see this window only when you are in the default desktop(if you are in another desktop, just press WIN + 1 key to switch to the default desktop). Just click on the Tray Icon to see this window. You can go to another desktop by simply clicking on the Image of that desktop.

Screenshot - MultiDesktop.gif


The application uses the CreateDesktop and SwitchDesktop() API to create and switch the desktop. It also uses the StretchBlt API to capture the desktop and to show it.

  • CreateDesktop: It creates a new desktop
  • SwitchDesktop: It makes a desktop visible and activates it. This enables the desktop to receive input from the user
  • StretchBlt: It is used to copy the source rectangle to the destination rectangle by stretching or compressing it

For better understanding of the above APIs, one can refer to MSDN.

Using the Code

There are three different dialog boxes used in this application. The main Dialog box is used to create and switch the desktop.

The following is the code used in Multidesktop:

//Check the registry for previous setting.
//It show the Number of desktops user require
INT NoOfDesk = CheckRegValue(_T("NoOfDesk"));

//Put the Application ICON in system Tray

//Add the Applications path in the System Startup

//registers the Hot key
//function retrieves a handle to the desktop that receives user input
//i.e. Default Desktop.
hOriginalInput = OpenInputDesktop(0, FALSE, DESKTOP_SWITCHDESKTOP);

// Create new Desktops Depends on Last Setting 
for (int i=0 ; i<NoOfDesk; i++)
    hDesktop[i] = CreateDesktop(DeskName[i], NULL, NULL, 0, GENERIC_ALL, NULL);

//Will Open Process in new desktop
//user init process is required to start the explorer and 
//initialize the new desktop 
//At First time only
   for (int i=0; i<NoOfDesk; i++)
       //Will Start the Init Process in Each Desktop
   FirstTime = FALSE;

Now we have created the new desktops and saved the handle of the default desktop. Following is the code that shows how to switch to the new desktop. I have used two techniques to switch to the new desktop.

  1. Switch desktop through Hot Key

    I have used four hot keys to switch to and from the new desktop:

    1. Win + 1 is used to switch to the default desktop
    2. Win + 2 is used to switch to the first desktop
    3. Win + 3 is used to switch to the second desktop
    4. Win + 4 is used to switch to the third desktop

    The following code shows how I have done this:

    case WM_HOTKEY:
           HDESK hNewDesk;
           //WIN + 1 Pressed Change to Default Desktop
           if (wParam == GlobalAddAtom(L"First_Desk"))
           hNewDesk    =    hOriginalInput;
           DeskNo        =    -1;
           //WIN + 2 || WIN+ 3 || WIN  + 4 Pressed Previously 
           if (OtherKey)    
             flag            =    TRUE;
             OtherKey        =    FALSE;
             else  // WIN + 2 || WIN+ 3 || WIN  + 4 NOT PRESSED PREVIOUSLY
               flag        =    FALSE;
           //WIN + 2 Pressed Changed to New Desktop
           if (wParam    ==    GlobalAddAtom(L"Second_Desk"))    
            hNewDesk    =    hDesktop[0];
            PrvDeskNo    =    0;
            OtherKey    =    TRUE;
        ....   //Same for Win + 3 and Win + 4
          SwitchDesktop( hNewDesk ) //Switch to Desired Desktop.
          if ( flag )
              //Capture the Screen of Desktop and Show in dialog Box.
  2. Switch the desktop when you click on the desktop screen shot.

    The following code shows how I have done this:

    case WM_COMMAND:
        if (LOWORD(wParam)    ==    IDC_Desk2 ) 
            SwitchDesktop( hDesktop[0] );
            OtherKey        =    TRUE;
            PrvDeskNo        =    0;
             ...  //almost same for other Click Events.

Points of Interest

I am working in a software company where our local site has all the songs listed and the software that plays it. But as it opens as a web browser, most of the time, people shut it down by mistake when they are surfing. One of my friends asked me if I could help him, and I came up with the idea of having a software that provides multiple desktops. Rather than downloading it from the Internet, I thought it would be better to develop my own. Then I came across this beautiful and useful application.


  • Submitted on 27th October, 2007


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

GauranG Shah
Tester / Quality Assurance
India India
His name is Gaurang Shah. He has completed his bachelor in computer science.Has worked as a System programmer. Currently working as QA Analyst in Pune.

Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 2 Pin
samidi27-Aug-14 6:11
Membersamidi27-Aug-14 6:11 
BugIE automatic exit Pin
ocean_sky25-Apr-12 20:38
Memberocean_sky25-Apr-12 20:38 
GeneralBug getting ModuleFileName Pin
Chris Schucker1-Jun-09 1:42
MemberChris Schucker1-Jun-09 1:42 
QuestionIs there a way to refresh windows on invisible screens? Pin
ouaebu27-Jan-09 14:53
Memberouaebu27-Jan-09 14:53 
QuestionCannot get desktops snapshot in Vista Pin
zhangxin20023-Aug-08 22:24
Memberzhangxin20023-Aug-08 22:24 
GeneralExcelent! Pin
Dr. Emmett Brown2-Nov-07 4:46
MemberDr. Emmett Brown2-Nov-07 4:46 
GeneralGreat work! Pin
COM+1-Nov-07 16:01
MemberCOM+1-Nov-07 16:01 
GeneralRe: Great work! Pin
GauranG Shah2-Nov-07 0:47
MemberGauranG Shah2-Nov-07 0:47 
GeneralGreat Pin
Navdeep Bhardwaj29-Oct-07 2:18
MemberNavdeep Bhardwaj29-Oct-07 2:18 
GeneralI want screenshots... Pin
toxcct28-Oct-07 22:34
Membertoxcct28-Oct-07 22:34 
QuestionFailed to register Hot Ket Pin
musicinc_2627-Oct-07 10:32
Membermusicinc_2627-Oct-07 10:32 
AnswerRe: Failed to register Hot Ket Pin
GauranG Shah28-Oct-07 19:33
MemberGauranG Shah28-Oct-07 19:33 
GeneralRe: Failed to register Hot Ket [modified] Pin
superduck29-Oct-07 19:45
Membersuperduck29-Oct-07 19:45 
AnswerRe: Failed to register Hot Ket Pin
Julian Nicholls31-Oct-07 2:56
MemberJulian Nicholls31-Oct-07 2:56 
GeneralRe: Failed to register Hot Ket Pin
GauranG Shah31-Oct-07 19:10
MemberGauranG Shah31-Oct-07 19:10 
GeneralHi Pin
kevdelkevdel27-Oct-07 6:10
Memberkevdelkevdel27-Oct-07 6:10 
AnswerRe: Hi Pin
highandhigher28-Oct-07 2:18
Memberhighandhigher28-Oct-07 2:18 
GeneralRe: Hi Pin
GauranG Shah29-Oct-07 1:50
MemberGauranG Shah29-Oct-07 1:50 
GeneralRe: Hi Pin
Z-Human30-Oct-07 12:36
MemberZ-Human30-Oct-07 12:36 
Generalheh Pin
Ian MacLean27-Oct-07 5:10
MemberIan MacLean27-Oct-07 5:10 
GeneralRe: heh Pin
yctsai1-Nov-07 21:56
Memberyctsai1-Nov-07 21:56 
GeneralRe: heh Pin
Ian MacLean3-Nov-07 14:06
MemberIan MacLean3-Nov-07 14:06 
GeneralRe: heh Pin
waiba22-Sep-12 23:09
Memberwaiba22-Sep-12 23:09 

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