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Grouping windows by task

make sense of your 40 open windows
  (+13, -2)(+13, -2)
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My job requires me to do many things at once.

To reply to somebody's email about an email problem, I will open up a "Compose Message" window, a couple of browser windows to do research, and perhaps the email management software.

Now, besides replying to that email, I am trying to figure out how to print PDFs from Java code. That requires a couple more browser windows, and another email window to ask an expert, and another piece of code to contemplate.

Besides these two things, I keep open a TO DO list, as well as other windows from things I've been stuck at since the previous day.

I can have up to 40 open windows in my Windows Desktop. I have a very powerful machine, so it has no trouble handling that much... but *I* do. It's very annoying and time-consuming to find the window I'm looking for... especially because when you have 40 open windows, you can't read the window titles.

What I propose is: group your windows by task.

In the taskbar, group those 40 windows into "printing PDF", "email problem", etc. so that it's easier to find the window you're looking for.

An option could be to open all of the task's windows at once while minimizing everything else.

GusLacerda, Oct 29 2001

Six Degrees http://www.creo.com/sixdegrees/
"Six Degrees continually makes connections between the messages you send, the files you create, and the people you work with. " [bristolz, Feb 14 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Just Beyond Our Windows http://www.latimes....03.story?coll=la%25
LA Times article about the future of desktop UI conventions. Interesting in a futurey kinda' way. Especially "Scopeware" which looks a lot like supercat's cascading windows. [bristolz, Feb 15 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

General look http://www.geocitie...symail/HB/win2.html
[Worldgineer, Apr 20 2005]

Windowscape http://www.cc.gatec...aig/windowscape.htm
This might be of use (I'd still rather use a desktop manager myself but here it is anyway) [leeand00, Dec 23 2009]

[link]






       Sounds vaguely like the concept of multiple desktops on various Unix-based windowing systems.
hippo, Oct 29 2001
  

       I like this. It's not something I would need much but for the times when I'm afflicted by window overload it might save a few bouts of screaming frustration.
angel, Oct 29 2001
  

       BAKED.   

       There are plenty of PC "Multiple Desktop" Apps out there... go to www.download.com and look under CNET-DOWNLOADS-PC-DesktopEnhancements-Shell&DesktopManagement-VirtualDesktopManagers and I'm sure you'lll find a program to do what you need...
CasaLoco, Oct 29 2001
  

       AIX, and I'm sure UNIX does too as noted in the first um... note, has this in their CDE. You can select different desktops by selecting from color coded tabs in the bottom center of the screen. It is defaulted to 4, but I remember you can have up to 8 or 32 or 64 or something like that.
barnzenen, Oct 29 2001
  

       PeterSealy: Note that I said "task", not "application". It's no good for me to have all emails open under one window when they have nothing to do with each other.
GusLacerda, Oct 29 2001
  

       I'm with Angel...I wouldn't use this often, but it'd still be nice occasionally.   

       For Windows 3.1, HP had a shell replacement called 'Dashboard'. It had a 'windshield' that worked kind of like barnzenen's thing, and would let you switch between distinct desktops with their own set of icons or windows.
StarChaser, Oct 30 2001
  

       ooooooh, sheep noises... where?
daruma, Oct 30 2001
  

       I'd like this, but it needs to be tied into the virtual memory system. Specifically, I want to be able to 'hibernate' tasks so that they're easy to refer back to in the future. (beyond a certain time, the task might merely be stored as instructions, to conserve space)   

       Thus a Photoshop file might open up in conjunction with a specific email or two describing what it was I was trying to do.   

       But a quick switch over, and that goes away again, and is replaced by a web browser and my personal mail.   

       Switch again, and I might get the folder containing the relevant files, a browser window, and a text editor with the html I was writing, so that I can preview it all.   

       Although I'm often re-using the same programs, or even the same documents, the overall task to which I put them is different in each case; that's the concept here.   

       Of course, you both want it to be easy to bring up another new window/program/document w/o ruining the task, and make it require an affirmative act to create a task so that trivial things don't consume the excess resources you're willing to spend on this feature.
cpt kangarooski, Feb 14 2002
  

       Cpt. Kangarooski-- I have read that there is a product due out Real Soon Now that promises to organize things a lot like you describe. Their Web site (link, Six Degrees) is really thin but, from what I read it does make organizational links from mail, to files, to people, etc. and then allows navigation along those links.   

       In fact, one gushing review claimed it is to knowledge management what Google is to search--a breakthrough. Who knows?
bristolz, Feb 14 2002
  

       But can I talk to it?   

       "Computer, virus scan that attachment we just downloaded then open it in Word; spell check it then save it in that folder we created yesterday for incoming reports."
phoenix, Feb 14 2002
  

       Actually, Windows XP does this...if you open up so many windows of one sort that you fill the taskbar, it collapses them into one button with a drop-down list.   

       <Bristolz, you're right, and I now remember that's why I didn't mention it the first time around...>
StarChaser, Feb 15 2002
  

       But they aren't grouped by task, SC.  Just by application, no?
bristolz, Feb 15 2002
  

       //From a desktop design perspective, you're just asking for a return to the original interface designs where each application brought up a single window, with child windows confined to that window, so I'd have to call that Baked.//   

       Except that under the MDI conventions, there was no way to ungroup windows or have an application use a non-rectangular part of the screen. Oftentimes it's useful to have one application have a cascade of windows from upper-left to lower-right and have other smaller-windowed apps in the upper-right and lower-left corners.
supercat, Feb 15 2002
  

       Had this same idea yesterday (deleting mine, as it's redundant). An option I'd suggest: The ability to save your task group, so that you can open all of those windows at once.
Worldgineer, Apr 20 2005
  

       Windows XP's grouping of windows in an application can sometimes be nice, but it can sometimes be a real pain. It would be much better if there were a way to separate out some windows for an application, but I don't know any way to do that.   

       Mozilla's tabbed browsing is a really great approach in many ways, though it would be even better if tabs could be "torn off" and dragged into other windows or made into windows of their own.
supercat, Apr 20 2005
  

       [sc] I was thinking that (unlike my mock-up) the current project or task group could have all of the program icons on the start menu for 1-click access. What bugs me about the current setup is that 2 clicks (plus search time in between) are needed.
Worldgineer, Apr 20 2005
  

       I too have a job like this....it'd be really nice if a task timer was integrated as well so that the amount of time you spend on each window-group is automatically logged as you switch between task- groups/window-groups.
leeand00, Dec 23 2009
  
      
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