MegaScale MultiDesktop Manager Help

Version 0.3.8

Date 31.12.2002

This program is a desktop manager which allows you to create multiple desktops and switch between them. Program is useful to persons who perform different things with one computer at the same time. You can group applications. One desktop for one group of applications. You can create a desktop for seldom used programs. Or you can create a desktop for programs that you have to run, but you don't want to take space from your desktop. Or, if you want to hide running programs from others. Or, if you want to run multiple shells at the same time. MultiDesktop Manager has many user interface languages.

MultiDesktop Manager is freeware.

Japanese version

If you are a Japanese user and want to read this help in your own language, use following links.


If you see square boxes in the application when you choose Japanese language, you need to install Japanese fonts. See instructions from your operating system. MultiDesktop Manager uses Tahoma font if it is available. Otherwise it uses Arial. English version of Windows NT 4.0 is not capable of displaying menus in Japanese because its system font does not support Japanese glyphs.

Translation is made by Takayuki Kawamoto. Big Thanks to Him!

Supported operating systems

MultiDesktop Manager will run only on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP or later because program uses features that are available on Windows NT based OS, but not on Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows Me. It uses some features that does not exist in Windows NT 3.1 and 3.51, so it will not run on earlier NTs.

Most of the Virtual Desktop programs run also on Windows 95/98/Me. Windows 95/98/Me has only one desktop so all windows are on single desktop. Virtual Desktop program just show and hide windows (I think).


You can create as many desktops as Windows NT accepts.

You can choose any application as shell application. Explorer (default), Program Manager, File Manager and Internet Explorer are predefined. If you wish, you can create a desktop without a shell application as an empty desktop.

You can switch between desktops with mouse by clicking tray icon and selecting a desktop from menu or with keyboard by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Left arrow or Ctrl-Alt-Right arrow.

Ctrl-Alt-D opens a menu for operations.

You can run any program on any desktop by pressing Ctrl-Alt-R which shows a dialog where you can enter name of the program. This is also possible using mouse by clicking tray icon and choosing 'Run...' from menu.

You can select the language of the user interface. Language changes on every open window online. Supported languages are listed later. By default MultiDesktop Manager uses your Regional Settings from Control Panel. If your locale is not supported by MultiDesktop Manager, MultiDesktop Manager uses English. You can save default language.


Setup has two phases.


First you run the setup program MegaScale MultiDesktop Manager Setup.exe. This program is used to choose the location for the program files and copy program files to chosen location.

In single computer environment the best location is MultiDesktop Manager-folder under your Program Files-folder. This is the default location.

In the office you have two possible solutions. First is to copy the setup program to server. Then people will run this program and setup their private copy in their computers. Second is to place program files on server using setup program. Then people will run shared copy of this program. They just run the program from the server.

Setup will detect the location of the previously installed version. This cannot be changed. Also, it detects if you are currently running other version. You have to close currently running version so the Setup can copy new version over existing one. If somebody else is using old version on shared resource the copy fails and error message is displayed. It does not detect if you are installing older version over newer version.


This is built in feature in MegaScale MultiDesktop Manager.exe.

If you have not installed this program yet, program asks you which language you want to use and few other things.

When program starts it goes directly to tray. This program does not have a main window.


There are two ways to uninstall this product.

Use Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel and select MegaScale MultiDesktop Manager from the list and press Add/Remove... or you can use Uninstall...-menu item from the popup menu of this program.

Uninstalling does the following things:

  1. It removes the shortcut from the Startup-folder (always).
  2. It removes the shortcut from the Programs-folder (always).
  3. It removes program settings from system registry (always).
  4. It removes program from installed applications.
  5. It deletes all the program files.
  6. It removes the program folder.

You cannot remove program from installed applications, if other users use this program in this computer. This is checked from registry. Other users use this program if they have registry settings.

You may choose to delete all the program files. If you run this program from server, you cannot delete files.

Also you can choose to delete the program folder.


Press Ctrl-Alt-D, left-click or right-click the tray icon

<desktop name> On the top of the popup menu there are names of all available desktops. Currently active desktop is checked. You can select a desktop which you want to use. Inaccessible desktops are greyed.
New Desktop... Opens a dialog where you can enter name of the new desktop and select a shell application for the new desktop.
Run... Opens a dialog where you can enter a program to run.
Language... Opens a dialog where you can select a language of the program.
Properties... Opens a dialog where you can choose if you want run MultiDesktop Manager automatically at startup.
Uninstall... Opens a dialog where you can uninstall the program.
Help Opens this help.
About MultiDesktop Manager Opens a dialog where is information about this program.
Close MultiDesktop Manager Closes this program. Not possible on created desktops.

Dialog boxes

Language of MultiDesktop Manager

First page in install. See details below.

MultiDesktop Manager

Second page of install. Shows some information about this program and install.

Install MultiDesktop Manager

Third and last page of install.

Add program to installed applications Check this if you want to add program to installed applications. This is checked by default.
Add shortcut to the Programs-folder Check this if you want to add shortcut to the Programs-folder. This is checked by default.
Run program automatically at startup Check this if you want to run this program automatically when you logon. This is checked by default.
< Back Goes to previous page.
Finish Saves all settings. Closes install wizard.
Cancel Cancels install.

New Desktop

This is used when you want to create a new desktop.

Desktop name Enter name of the new desktop. You can use any characters except \.
Shell application Select shell application from list. There are explorer.exe (default), iexplore.exe, progman.exe and winfile.exe predefined. Or you can enter any other program to run as shell application. Or you can clear the selection and create desktop without an application. You can enter name of the program without the location of the program file, if program is registered properly. For example Microsoft Word and WinZip are registered properly. This means that you can enter winword or winzip.
User name Optionally you can enter user name, if you want to run this desktop as an specified user account. Not implemented yet!
Password Password of the user. Not implemented yet!
Domain Domain where the user belongs. It may be empty, if user name is user of this computer. Not implemented yet!
OK Creates the new desktop, switches to the new desktop and executes shell application if specified.
Cancel Closes the dialog.


This is used when you want to run a program.

Windows Explorer has Run-dialog too, but it does not show up on desktops you have created, if you use Win-R. It always opens on default desktop. If you don't have Win-key in your keyboard, you don't have this problem. If you are on a desktop which does not run Windows Explorer, you probably cannot open Windows' Run-dialog. These are the reasons why this program has Run-dialog.

You can enter name of the program without the location of the program file, if program is registered properly. For example Microsoft Word and WinZip are registered properly. This means that you can enter winword or winzip.

This can only run programs. It cannot open documents.

This dialog can be opened by pressing Ctrl-Alt-R or it can be selected from popup menu of this program.

Application Enter name of the program to run.
... Opens standard Open-dialog where you can browse the file you want to run.
User name Optionally you can enter user name, if you want to run the application as an specified user account. Not implemented yet!
Password Password of the user. Not implemented yet!
Domain Domain where the user belongs. It may be empty, if user name is user of this computer. Not implemented yet!
OK Executes the entered application.
Cancel Closes the dialog.

Language of MultiDesktop Manager

This dialog is used to select the language of the program.

Language Currently active language is selected from the list. Select the language you want to use. Languages are in native language and in English. If your locale is not supported, MultiDesktop Manager uses English. Selection is saved to the registry if 'Set as startup language' is checked. Language is changed in all active windows online.
Set as startup language If this is checked, selected language is saved to the registry. If this is unchecked setting is removed from the registry.
Translation credits Shows translation copyright of currently selected language.
Startup language Name of the current startup language, if any.
OK Accepts the selected language. This button is not showed during install.
Cancel Closes the dialog and cancels the possibly changed language. This button is not showed during install.

MultiDesktop Manager Properties

Changes the settings of the program.

Run program automatically at startup Check this if you want to run this program automatically when you logon.
Switch to startup-desktop when program closes Check this if you want switch to startup-desktop when program closes. Not implemented yet!
OK Saves the settings. If 'Run program automatically at startup' is checked, shortcut to this program is added to the Startup-folder of Current User. If 'Run program automatically at startup' is unchecked, shortcut to this program is deleted from the Startup-folder of Current User.
Cancel Closes the dialog.

About MultiDesktop Manager

This dialog shows name and version of the program and copyright information. There is hyperlink to home page of the program and link to send e-mail to me.

e-mail My e-mail address. If you click this link, it will open your default e-mail program. Also it should put e-mail address to 'To'-field and predefined subject to 'Subject'-field of the e-mail program.
web-link Home page of MultiDesktop Manager. If you click this link, it should open your default web browser program and open home page of MultiDesktop Manager. This requires that you are connected to internet.
OK Closes the dialog.


MultiDesktop Manager has several built-in languages. By default MultiDesktop Manager uses current locale of the user. If locale is not supported by MultiDesktop Manager, MultiDesktop Manager uses English (United States). User can change language online and choose one of them as default.

Translation credits

Language Translated by
Czech Michal Řeháček
Dutch (Netherlands) Charik van Hagen
English (United States) Jarmo Muukka
Estonian Arvo Tomingas
Finnish Jarmo Muukka
French (France) Heavymetal
Galician Xosé Antón Vicente Rodríguez
German (Germany) Michael Feld
Hungarian Mocsnik Norbert
Italian (Italy) Paolo Bormida
Japanese Takayuki Kawamoto
Polish Janek Kozicki
Portuguese (Brazil) Paulino Michelazzo
Romanian Aurelian Constantin
Spanish (Spain) Andrés Javier Purriños
Turkish Fereç Çetin


You can switch desktops with Alt Gr-Arrows too.

Known "features" aka Bug list


Known problems

When creating extra desktop with Active Desktop Explorer as Shell, Explorer thinks it has crashed and enters into Recovery mode. I think this is a bug of Explorer. To avoid this don't use Active Desktop or use another shell instead of Explorer on other desktops.

If you use Hot Keys of Explorer, they will only work on Default desktop. For example pressing Win-R opens Run dialog, but always on a Default desktop. It will not open the dialog on other desktops. If you press Win-M to minimize all windows in current desktop, all windows on Default desktop will be minimized. These are limitations of Explorer.

Tray icons are not copied to the tray of other desktops. Mail notifications (icon in tray) etc. will only show in Default desktop or in the desktop where the program is running on. Icons may show on other desktops if program is designed multiple desktops in mind.

In general, all messages are displayed on the desktop where the program is running on.

You can not move windows from one desktop to another desktop. Window belongs to that desktop where it was created on.

When you logoff, all the desktops you have created are destroyed.

When you logoff, all explorer folders are saved from every desktop (if this setting is on in Explorer). When you logon, folders are restored, but all onto the Default desktop.

If you don't use Explorer as a shell in desktop you have created and then maximize running program, it will not fill the screen. Windows will reserve space for taskbar even when current desktop does not have it. Also when minimizing an application, it will not go bottom of the screen. Again, space for the taskbar is reserved by Explorer. If you have e.g. two desktops and move tray in one desktop to another edge of the screen and then you go to other desktop and then maximize one window, it will use settings from previous change (i.e. the last setting in the computer). I think this is a "feature" of Explorer and Windows. Windows does not check current desktop when it resizes the working area; instead it uses one setting for all desktops.

If you try to use Windows NT Task Manager's Applications-tab to "Switch To" the selected application and the application is on another desktop, it does not do nothing. Windows NT Task Manager cannot Switch To the selected application, if application is on another desktop.

If you run 16-bit program on non-Default desktop, it may start on Default desktop. True story. I am not sure does this happens always. Or only when NTVDM was already running on Default desktop.

When you start program on non-Default desktop, that program may start program on Default desktop. True story. Second program wasn't 16-bit program. It looks like that the name of the desktop (Default) was hard coded into the application.

When you create a new desktop and use explorer as shell, it may run programs on Startup folders again. This depends on version of Windows NT. I believe that standard Windows NT 4.0 behaves like this.

Windows 2000: Explorer seems to open search on Default desktop. I have a setting that runs Explorer windows in separate processes. When I start a search, it will use process of existing Explorer. But, somehow it decides to use Explorer on Default desktop, not the current process on current desktop. I wrote and noticed this on January 17th 2001. At that time I had no service packs installed. Today, on February 6th 2002, I tried this again and it worked as it should work. I have service pack 2 installed.

One person started second desktop with Internet Explorer. So, it was only Internet Explorer running. Then he clicked to link in Outlook Express, which was on Default desktop. He wondered why the web page does not load. Outlook Express opened the web page in Internet Explorer on second desktop. I verified this on January 17th 2001. Is ShellExecute-API-function the reason for this bad behaviour?

At work I had one peculiar problem with Outlook on May 15th 2001. I had Outlook running on second desktop. On that desktop in Explorer I right clicked a file and chose Send To Mail Recipient. It opened the mail window, but I could not choose a recipient, because "To..." didn't work. It just beeped and gave a error message. I went to the Default desktop and did the same (Outlook still on second desktop) and it worked. Weird!

Most of these problems yield to Microsoft. They do not test programs on Windows NT with multiple desktops.

Wish list (some are my wishes)

Want to run shell as another user account.

Want run program as another user account.

Create a desktop automatically at startup.

Run selected programs automatically on desktops created at startup.

Want to translate the application to my own language. Please, send me e-mail, if you wish to do the job.

Want to choose desktop directly with some hotkey (like in Linux, I've heard).

Want to see the name of the current desktop.

Want to see programs running on specified desktop in a list. And choose one.

Want to close/delete desktop.

Want to rename desktop.

Want to hide icon from tray so people don't see it. I use keyboard for menus and changing desktop.

Want to configure hot keys.

Destroy all desktops when program closes (option).

Option "Do not show message when another copy is already running".

Tiny windows with screenshots.

I have received other feature requests, but I have not added them into this list. I should.

Version history

Version Date of exe
Date of Help
Release date
Note 19.05.1999 19.05.1999 20.05.1999 First official release. Small group of people knows about this program.       Enabled user accounts with knowing that it has problems.       Added uninstall. Changed shortcut from Common Startup-folder to Startup-folder of logged on user. 08.06.1999 30.08.1999 31.08.1999 Added install. 02.11.1999 02.11.1999 02.11.1999 MDM is now fully Unicode enabled. Added hot key Ctrl-Alt-D. Disabled user account support. Changed install to wizard style. Added setup application. Improved uninstall support. Several other minor changes. This is the first version published world wide. 02.11.2000     Added Dutch (thanks to Charik van Hagen) and French (thanks to Heavymetal). Fixed dialog activation problems on Windows 2000. 04.11.2000     Dutch is now finished. French version has one "too long" text (tip 1). Help command in menu does not say that it is in English and wish to send e-mail to me does not say that mail should be sent in English.
  11.11.2000     MDM displayed an error message when user tried to switch to inaccessible desktop. This was correct because user did not have access rights to switch to desktop. Now menu lists all desktops and inaccessible desktops are greyed. Inaccessible desktops are also ignored when rotating desktops with Ctrl-Alt-arrows.
MDM crashed when Chinese text was entered (actually pasted) in Desktop name field in New Desktop dialog. The bug was in call to a single byte version of one RTL-function. I did not remember to change this to Unicode when I made an Unicode version.
Thanks to Michal Řeháček who found these anomalies. 27.11.2000     Added Spanish (thanks to Andrés Javier Purriños). 13.12.2000     Added Czech (thanks to Michal Řeháček). Problems displaying all characters. MS Sans Serif font does not contain all needed characters. I need to change the font. Tried Tahoma which works, if user has it. 15.12.2000     Decided to use Arial on all dialogs. Arial is available on standard Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000. Now the only problem is in popup menu on Windows NT 4.0 which does not display all characters properly on normal English version OS. 17.12.2000     Arial did not work correctly with Chinese text. Decided to use Tahoma on all dialogs. Added modified version of Czech translation.
  18.12.2000     If system does not have Tahoma font, Arial font is used in dialogs by changing font dynamically.
  19.12.2000     Tahoma font was not a good choice for dialogs. If user did not have Tahoma font, OS decided to use System font and it resized the dialog for the bigger System font. Now all dialogs use Arial font by default. If Tahoma font is available in the system, font in dialog is changed to Tahoma. This works nicely.
0.3.1 21.12.2000 21.12.2000 21.12.2000 Modified Setup application to detect installed version of MDM. 24.05.2001     Added Italian (thanks to Paolo Bormida) and Portuguese (thanks to Paulino Michelazzo). 28.05.2001     Modified Italian translation and resized two dialogs. 03.07.2001     Few corrections to Portuguese translation.
0.3.2 03.08.2001 03.08.2001 03.08.2001 Changed e-mail address and web page to my own domain. 25.10.2001 25.10.2001   Added German (thanks to Michael Feld). 26.10.2001 27.10.2001   A little help for users who use shell replacements. Usually Windows Explorer starts as shell. It is controlled by value of "Shell" in registry key "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon". Normally it's "Exlporer.exe". This is a system wide setting. When you logon, specified shell will be executed. Some users use e.g. geOShell as shell, so they have a value "geOShell.exe" (usually with a full path) in "Shell". When they login, geOShell will be launched on Default desktop. When they create a new desktop and choose Explorer as shell application, Explorer executes as a normal file manager window. Why not as shell? Explorer reads "Shell" value and it sees that it is not shell, so it executes as file manager window. MDM changes this. When you create a new desktop and choose any application as shell, MDM temporarily saves it as shell in the registry. This is only done if user has enough access rights to save the registry setting. After the shell is running, "Shell" setting is restored. I heard of these problems from Takayuki Kawamoto, who also tested that my code worked in his system. He uses at least two shell replacements: LiteStep and geOShell.
    27.10.2001   I figured out that my code does not work in every situation. To demonstrate this I created a new desktop with Notepad as a shell. Then I executed Explorer. Guess what? Explorer thought that it is a shell, as I expected. Two possible solutions. First is to change the "Shell" setting every time I run an application. This solves the problem if application is executed in MDM. What if application is executed in another application? To solve this I could modify "Shell" setting every time user switches to the desktop. The problem with this is "What if the computer crashes or MDM is terminated when there's a wrong setting?" Imagine that Notepad was chosen as shell and then you terminate MDM and logoff. When you logon, Notepad is launched. Nothing else. What would you do then? 28.10.2001 28.10.2001   Added Japanese (thanks to Takayuki Kawamoto). Modified the size of some items in dialogs. Few texts are too long. 28.10.2001 28.10.2001   Few modifications to Japanese texts. One text is still too long in my Windows 2000. Takayuki said that it was OK in his system. I tried this version at work in one computer (Windows 2000) which didn't have Japanese fonts. There were square boxes all over. Also, in this computer the fonts were resized to 109%, so MDM didn't display everything correctly. 30.10.2001 30.10.2001   It seems that I have fixed size font and Takayuki has variable size font. The too long phrase is now shorter than before, so it's fully visible in my system. MDM remembers which application is a shell, and when new process is launched from Run dialog, MDM temporarily changes "Shell" in the registry. Now if you use e.g. Notepad as shell and launch Explorer from Run dialog, Explorer is executed as file manager window. This does not work, if you launch Explorer from other application (it launches as shell). When you close MDM and then run it again, MDM does not know which application is a shell, so described technique might not work. Anyway, it worked in my case. MDM temporarily saved an empty setting in "Shell" in the registry and Explorer didn't launch as shell.
0.3.3 02.11.2001 03.11.2001 03.11.2001 One change to Japanese translation. Added Japanese help file to the distributed .zip. 14.12.2001     Added Polish (thanks to Janek Kozicki).
0.3.4 14.12.2001 14.12.2001 15.12.2001 One modification to Polish translation. Distributed file includes version 0.3.3 of Japanese help. 02.02.2002 02.02.2002   Added Romanian (thanks to Aurelian Constantin). 04.02.2002 04.02.2002   Modifications to Romanian translation. 05.02.2002 05.02.2002   Modifications to Romanian translation.
0.3.5 06.02.2002 06.02.2002 06.02.2002 Distributed .zip file does not include Japanese help. 30.10.2002     Added Galician (thanks to Xosé Antón Vicente Rodríguez). Windows 2000 does not display language names for Galician in dropdown list. Windows XP displays language names for Galician because it supports Galician.
0.3.6 31.10.2002 1.11.2002 1.11.2002 If application cannot get texts for Galician and galego from operating system, application uses hard coded Galician and galego texts. 10.11.2002     Added Hungarian (thanks to Mocsnik Norbert). This version had problems with ű and ő (displayed as u and o). It was my mistake (Copy-Paste and Save). One phrase was too long. 10.11.2002     Problems corrected.
0.3.7 11.11.2002 11.11.2002 11.11.2002 Released. No changes. 2.12.2002     Added Turkish (thanks to Fereç Çetin). 4.12.2002     Changes to Turkish translation.
0.3.8 31.12.2002 31.12.2002 31.12.2002 Released. No changes.

Name of the packet

Files are released in zip-file. Name of the file is where xxxx is the version number.

File listing

Zip-file contains following files:

  • MegaScale MultiDesktop Manager Setup.exe
  • Readme.txt
  • When you run MegaScale MultiDesktop Manager Setup.exe, it will copy following files to your system:

  • MegaScale MultiDesktop Manager.exe
  • MegaScale MultiDesktop Manager Help.html
  • No other files are copied to your system.


    MultiDesktop Manager is owned by Jarmo Muukka.

    I release programs under the name MegaScale Software. It is not registered. It is just a name.


    This software is freeware, but if you like, you can send me a postcard.

    Jarmo Muukka
    Maissikatu 5
    53500 Lappeenranta

    Finnish is my native language so if I have said something with foreign accent, please let me know.

    My e-mail address is

    My home page is

    Home page of MultiDesktop Manager is

    Copyright © 1998-2002 by Jarmo Muukka. All rights reserved.
    Last modified on December 30th 2002