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April Top Tip - Working from home with multiple (virtual) desktops

The COVID-19 outbreak now means that most people are working from home but how do you adapt when perhaps you don’t have the same equipment as you do in your university office? Ian Cottam offers some tips on working from home with virtual desktops.

Many people, especially programmers, like to use two or even more monitor screens. While we are all working from home it is unlikely that you will have access to multiple screens. Here are three alternatives – I like and I currently use the third one (below).

  1. If you have macOS 10.15 Catalina and also an iPad, you can use the iPad as a second screen. This obviously works best with the larger sized iPads, rather than say a mini, and the iPad mustn't be too old. Instructions on how to do this can be found on the Apple website. Earlier versions of macOS might be able to work with the third party app: Duet.:
  2. If you are working in a room at home with a TV and an AppleTV box, you can airplay your screen to the TV. This is built-in to Apple devices and AirParrot2 can be used on Windows.
  3. All the latest versions of the three popular operating systems let you create multiple, virtual desktops, with fast switching between them. Linux was the first to offer such, followed by macOS, and now Windows 10 has it. I'm a macOS user and keep at least 8 virtual desktops on the go, switching between them just by using control-1 (for desktop 1), control-2, etc. Below are links to articles describing all three.

* For Windows 10 users

* For macOS users

* For Linux users

It's not to everyone's taste – several of my colleagues have tried this and didn't like it – but you will never know unless you try it!