Desktop panorama is an award-winning virtual desktop environment that uses the innovative concept of a linear virtual desktop. Unlike traditional virtual desktops like the ones seen in Linux desktops, the virtual desktop area is represented as an infinite stripe and windows can be freely moved around it. The advantages of this type of virtual desktop are that it gives you greater overview of open windows (the entire virtual desktop content is visible at a glance) and moving the windows around and onto the virtual desktop is also simplified and is done by dragging them with a mouse. Changing the view (the desktop) is done by selecting an area on the stripe using a mouse. Traditonal desktop switching is also supported by defining shortcuts.
If the program is not registered, you can choose between two modes the "free mode" or "full mode". The full mode enables the full functionality of the program and is intented to be used for one to test the progam and purchase the license, so a countdown message is shown when showing the panorama every couple of minutes. In "free mode" there is no nag message but the functionality is limited, so you can use the panorama as a kind of a shelf to put your windows on, but you cannot change the desktop view. Some other details like the water animation are also turned off.
To show or hide the panorama place the mouse pointer to the bottom right corner of the screen (default setting). You can also hide the panorama by pressing and holding the left mouse button. You can change the corner that triggers showing/hiding, as described in configuration. When shown the interface looks like in picture below:
picture 1: the interface of the program
In the upper left corner of the panorama interface there are 3 control buttons. When the first button is selected the program is in the view change
mode. In this mode moving a mouse over the panorama interface shows a rectangle marking the view to be selected, and pressing the left mouse button changes the current view and
desktop content to the area selected. This button is disabled in free mode.
When the second button of the control buttons is selected the program is in the window moving mode. In this mode you can grab any of the windows shown on the panorama interface and move it to the desired position. You can also drag the window out to the desktop and drag the window from the desktop onto the panorama interface. Note that you can switch between view change and window moving mode any time by pressing the <SHIFT> button.
Pressing the third button shows a menu that enables you to configure the program, hide the interface, center the current view and assign keyboard/mouse shortcuts to the current view. There is also a context menu that is shown by right clicking the panorama interface over the current view or outside of it.
Using left and right scroll buttons you can scroll the content on the panorama interface left or right, giving you more space to put windows onto. Scrolling of the interface can also be done using a mouse scroll wheel.
You can turn on the option "Pin to desktop" by selecting it in the menu. This locks the panorama interface to the desktop reducing it's size and disables hiding the interface. With this option turned on you can work with your windows with panorama always shown. Of course, pinning is disabled if the interface is in the center screen position. Changing some configuration options as interface size resets this option, so you have to set it again.
With view shortcuts you can assign 4 keyboard/mouse shortcuts to the different views (desktops) on the panorama interface. You assign view shortcuts by right clicking over the current view and choosing the shortcut from the menu shown below. Later you can switch the desktops you selected by holding the <CTRL> button and placing the mouse pointer to the one of the four corners of the screen.
picture 4: the view shortcuts menu
Here are a few useful keyboard shortcuts used by the program:
picture 3: transparent windows produced by the <ALT> shortcut.
This section describes the configuration options of the program for each screen of the configuration window.
picture 4: configuration - layout section
picture 5: configuration - behaviour section
picture 6: configuration - skins section
Here you can choose betwen installed skins and install a new one. The skins are packaged as a zip file and can be downloaded from the panorama website. You can also easily change the current skin or make a new one by simply changing images in the panorama "program files" folder. To add a new skin you can simply copy the folder of the existing one and change it's config file and images.
picture 7: configuration - window exceptions section
If you would like to excude certain windows or programs from the virtual desktop and make them stationary all of the time, you can use this configuration section.
To exclude the entire program you can type it's executable (process) name to the box below the list and click "add".
If you want to exclude the Notepad program, for example, you should type notepad.exe to the box.
The other way is to exclude certain windows by dragging them from the current view to the pulsating area shown on the panorama interface when window exceptions section is open. To remove all added exceptions you click the "clear" button, and to remove them one by one you can select them in the list and use the "remove" button. You can also remove the exceptions graphically by selecting the "white hole" radio box and then dragging the windows from the current view to the pulsating white area on the interface.
picture 8: configuration - thumbnail exceptions section
This section of configuration enables you to exclude certain windows or programs from the normal image generation process and force Desktop Panorama
to use direct screen copy for them. To exclude the entire program you can type it's executable (process) name to the box below the list and click "add".
If you want to exclude the Notepad program, for example, you should type notepad.exe to the box.
The other way is to exclude certain windows by dragging them from the current view to the pulsating area shown on the panorama interface when thumbnail exceptions section is open. To remove all added exceptions you click the "clear" button, and to remove them one by one you can select them in the list and use the "remove" button. You can also remove the exceptions graphically by selecting the "white hole" radio box and then dragging the windows from the current view to the pulsating white area on the interface.
picture 9: configuration - advanced section
Q: How do I make my program/window stationary (for sidebars etc.).
A: Exclude it from the virtual desktop as described in configuration - windows exceptions.
Q: What about multimonitor support?
A: The program has some multimonitor support, and it will be made better. But the concept of an linear virtual desktop doesn't play well with multiple monitors: the best thing to do on a dual monitor system would be to have one monitor included in the virtual desktop, and the other one stationary. Well, you cannot do that in the left-right monitor configuration because the windows would invade the stationary monitor when moving them.
Q: The interface is slow and skippy and/or CPU usage of the paorama process is high when the interface is shown.
A: This is almost always the problem with the graphics adapter or the drivers for it. Check that the proper drivers for your graphics adapter are installed and that they support OpenGL. When there are problems with the drivers and OpenGL support, windows will emulate OpenGL running it on the CPU and wasting it for even the simplest animations.
Q: The interface is sporadically skippy and CPU usage of the panorama process is normal (3% to 30%).
A: This problem occurs with the single-core CPU computers running CPU intensive programs. Sometimes some program goes wild and takes 100% of CPU time, leaving nothing for panorama. If the interface remains slow, some program that you are running is probably using much CPU time. Use the windows task manager to find it. You can also try to increase priority of the panorama process as described in configuration - advnced.
Q: No interface is shown when placing the mouse to the screen corner(s).
A: Check that the panorama is running / start it from the start menu. This can also be the problem with your graphics card driver not supporting OpenGL. For example, early drivers for some Intel cards on Windows 7 didn't support OpenGL properly. Try to run some other OpenGL program and if it's not running, update your drivers. You can switch to DirectX rendering by selecting Configuration -> Advanced -> Use Direct3D. On Windows 7 turning on Windows Aero styles also helps if there is a problem with OpenGL support of the driver.
Q: Part of the window thumbnail in the panorama is black/white.
A: This is mostly the problem with Windows XP poor support of taking windows' snapshots. I put a big effort to bypass this problem in many ways but it cannot be completely eliminated. Some problems with thumbnails are also possible on Windows 7 / Vista when the programs are showing 3D graphics (Direct3D/OpenGL). If you don't like it you can change the thumbnail generation for the offending program as described in configuration - thumbnail exceprions. PS. Yes, Windows Vista / 7 has the so called "live thumbnails" but unfortunately the API is very limited, and available only when DWM is turned on, so for now I'm sticking to the "classic" method.
Q: A part of my window moved apart when dragging it.
A: Panorama supports the draging of composite windows (as Nullsoft Winamp) but there are some esoteric programs with composite windows that are made in such a (stupid) way that you just cannot move them programatically because they directly trace the mouse to move their parts. You can exclude such programs/windows from the virtual desktop as described in configuration - windows exceptions.
Q: The panorama interface froze, what to do?
A: This should never happen, so please report the bug. You can restart the Panorama by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+BACKSPACE, or stoping it and starting it from the start menu. The state of the virtual desktop will be preserved.