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How Many Windows? 327

youthoftoday asks: "As part of a recent piece of coursework (I'm a student) I talked to a number of people about how many windows they typically have open at any one time. I received a startling range of responses, and that got me thinking about what people consider a 'normal' working environment in terms of the number of windows they have open and what they like to get done. I usually have about 25 windows open and about 15 tabs in my browser (over two monitors) as a standard working environment in Mac OS X. I usually keep a set of windows in position for about 5 days between restarts. Others prefer to close windows for applications they're not using right at this minute. And we all know people who are scared to have more than one window open. So, how do Slashdot readers use their OSes?"
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How Many Windows?

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  • by joshetc ( 955226 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:54PM (#16666565)
    At work I typically have 8-10 open as the computer is fairly crappy.
    At home when I am doing misc stuff I'll generally have 20+ with some browser tabs and IE windows (FF and IE)
    If I'm searching for porn..usually 50+

    Since this is for school you can tell them computer parts or something instead of porn I guess..
    • Eight to 10 on your work computer?
      Most machines at work can't handle more than four at a time. Part of that limitation is all the corporate spyware they install on every machine. I think someone in IT even said 256MB of RAM is plenty to run WinXP. It is, until you try to run other things.
      • by joshetc ( 955226 )
        Yeh, heh. We run win2k on 1.8ghz P4s w/ 256MB ram. It is a pain but I manage to get UPS Worldship, Outlook, a few IE windows, Excel and some other crap running. Our antivirus / network management utilities are pretty out of date (ie. not bloated)
        • I'm on one of the better PIII machines, 666MHz. My idle process runs as high as 87% but averages about 84% with outlook and two ie windows. They did get in a shipment of P4's but someone took half the memory out of them.
          • by joshetc ( 955226 )
            Lol well it is a government building. I actually got scammed. Out of everyone in the building I probably use the most resource intensive apps (really should have DHL shipping software too which requires a database be running locally..) some people are actually on dual cores with half a gig of ram :p
  • I've usually got 5 or 6 (8 at most) windows open, spread through 4 virtual desktops. Browser, file manager, console (though yakuake: http://yakuake.uv.ro/ [yakuake.uv.ro] has alleviated that need), IM stuff, a game of tetris, and maybe email.
  • Laptop: Firefox with 6 tabs, jEdit, terminal, Gaim in systray, Quod Libet (music) in systray, and yakuake (a command shell) hidden most of the time. Office: Firefox with 7 tabs, Eclipse, Evolution, Gaim in systray, yakuake. And to think, my office box has 2 monitors :P
  • If I am doing web work, say writing some PHP or HTML, I generally have:

    - Window for previewing/testing the website
    - Window for editing the source files (I use HAPedit a lot for editing)
    - Window for showing the source files on my HDD
    - Window for FTP to server to upload files from my HDD
    - Window for surfing the internet to do research/learn about PHP etc (this is consistent)
    - Window for music (I suppose winamp counts as a window)
    - Window for graphics design

    To be honest, I can't begin to understand how you wou
  • I find it more interesting to ask how many virtual desktops people have (but of course that only applies to Linux) and how they use them. Window counts may vary, but virtual desktop usage is informative.

    For me, the answer is 5, organised as follows:
    1: Playground, this has browser, music player, the odd game and so on it.
    2: Mail. Yes, an entire desktop dedicated just to the mail client, I don't know why, but I got used to it.
    3. Documents. This is where Lyx, Kile, Jabref, OpenOffice, Acroread and so on will o
    • by daranz ( 914716 )
      On my laptop, I tend to use 3 or 2 workspaces at most. I spend most of the time in the primary workspace, with the secondary one having IRC, gaim and a mail client open (I can then flick to the workspace to use IRC or whatever else, and then go back to what I was doing). The third workspace gets used whenever there's an oversaturation of open apps in the primary desktop, or when I'm downloading torrents, or generally any other long-term process with progress bars and no interaction. I have two monitors on m
    • My desktops have slowly, but surely, converged into one screen [gnu.org] session.

      0: stuff: Just a standard shell, yeah.
      1: emacs: Text editing. Usually about eight buffers open, depending on what I'm doing.
      2: irc: I'm always using irssi, productivity drainer of our time.
      3: songs: ncmpc gives me music.

      Other than that, there are usually two or three other windows open, again depending on what I'm doing. Usually, they are terminals. I also have both a web browser and Gaim open, neither of which translate very well to a t
    • by Rudolf ( 43885 )
      I find it more interesting to ask how many virtual desktops people have (but of course that only applies to Linux)

      What? Can you explain why you think that only Linux has virtual desktops?

      • by teslar ( 706653 )
        Because it's late at night and I've been in the pub ;) But yeah, of course when I say Linux I mean all the *nixes and I guess that group thing under MacOs counts too. I'm pretty sure I've seen 3rd party software that adds virtual desktops to Windows too...
    • by rk ( 6314 ) *

      "(but of course that only applies to Linux)"

      You control: Desktops [yousoftware.com] for Mac OS X. I use this at work and it's a really nifty program. It does chap my ass that I have to pay for something a decent OS should supply, but it's basically necessary software for me these days, even with dual monitors.

      I have six desktops, and use four at home with my Linux box (IceWM). I need fewer at home because I do fewer context switches here.

      At work, I have a desktop reserved for mail, too. The left monitor holds th

  • This would have been a perfect poll, BTW.

    Otherwise, 1-5 apps, 2-10 browser windows, with 1-5 tabs in each browser window. My habits.

    Some people I know had 50+ windows (IE 5 or 6?), but that was before tabbed browsing. Yes, and we never turned off those computer when leaving work. In fact it was considered bad for the pc:s (Wndows NT 4.0) to turn them on and off. If you had had to them off the broweser habit of that guy probably would have been different.

  • I always have at least 10 separate windows open (many more if you consider each open session within screen distinct), but I usually average closer to 15 or 20. Konqueror is one of my omnipresent applications and I frequently queue things up in new tabs that I mean to get to eventually (often I'll have tabs open for weeks or months at a time that I haven't looked at yet). Within Konqueror, I have a minimum of 3 tabs open, though frequently more, I'm not sure about an average there.

    Also, what about multiple

  • Often I just have firefox XOR a terminal open, sometimes both. But that's not quite fair. By windows do you mean applications? Because I have, lets see, two screen sessions, four konqueror instances running in one "window", kopete, akregator, amarok, kmail and ktorrent running as icons in the system tray (they notify me when something interesting happens, no need to keep them out clogging precious information space), xplanet, conky, yakuake and a bunch of shit that run as background processes but which I am
  • I find having a great deal of windows (or tabs) open counterproductive - I get lost, confused about what I was doing and can't concentrate.

    I'm always shocked by how many people do have open, like seeing someones FF with 20-30+ tabs up. Are there really ever 30 essential pages that need to be up right now?
  • Number of windows isn't a great metric, really. You need to really count number of tabs or files open in the editor, I think. Rather than open a new instance of Xemacs for each file, I have one instance running on each machine I'm logged into. I have four xterms open on my Linux box and the have a total of 25 separate tabs going, all of which are being used. Those four instances are on three machines, by the way. I got so many open on my local workstation that I need a two instances to hold them all re
  • 13 terminal windows,1 tabbed conversation window, two browser windows with some number of tabs, an evolution window with mailbox, a compose evolution window, a sharkwire window, the gaim buddy list, the gaim account window (by chance) and a source view window.

    Total of 23 windows on current workspace.

    I have two more windows (openoffice writer and yet another browser window) on another workspace.
  • Well, right now I have about 40 windows open if you include IM and an mp3 player. This is probably a bit less than usual as I don't have any SSH sessions currently open. I do have 3 remote desktop sessions running, each with 2 or 3 additional windows running within them.
  • Usually four or five, but every so often my window usage "bursts" and I end up with 10 to 15 tabs open. I can say similar things about the number of tabs I have open in Firefox as well. I think that the number of windows open at once may express a user's multitasking preference in general, so I wouldn't be surprised to find other people with about 1:1 ratios of both.
  • I have 9 windows open right now, if you count my adium buddy list. 5 Firefox, each with 4-8 tabs, adium buddy list, and two finder windows left over from reorganizing my bit torrent DL folder last night. Usually in addition to that I have my azerus client open, a chat window open, and the VLC control box + paused video. Maybe iTunes. I'd probably have other crap open like calculator, 2-3 terminal windows, cpu monitor & image capture running in the background if my other monitor wasn't plugged in to my u
    • Good point - I have 30 gkrellm windows, an sdtperfmeter, an xload, iconbox and 5 pagers before I even open up any local applications or terminal windows (which currently adds 21 more). Yes I could put most of this stuff in a web page - and in fact I do export the X display with the monitoring windows via VNC so others on the subnet can look at it with a vnc web applet. If I have a new task I open a new window so things can't be mixed up - I pick the border colour based on the purpose of the machine or if
  • I don't think "number of windows open" is as relevant as how you organise what's loaded... things like media players sit quite happily aside as icons along with temperature readouts, email notification, etc.

    When writing I've usually got a browser, filer window, thumbnail browser, text editor and FTP client "open" (but only one maximised at a time -- never been able to get to grips with lots of windows on top of each other, personally, despite growing up with RISC OS) with email, music and a dictionary app t
  • I configure it to create a seperate window for every person I talk to then just leave em open so I can see what we talked about last time I spoke to that person without having to go look through the log. Take them away and I have about 5 or 6 other windows open, on each of my four monitors.
  • Generally, anywhere from just one (running Flight Sim X) to an average of three or four (surfing, email client in the background, etc) to perhaps a dozen. Generally, once the taskbar grows its own scroll widget, it's time to clean for me.
  • 2 monitors. About 15 open windows, many of which are tabbed internally. Usually I have 5 txt / config files open in one app, and 7-10 tabs in Opera.

    Opera (browser), Crimson Editor (text), Two e-mail applications, Perforce (version control), an internal development application, usually three copies of Word, one of Excel, a calculator, a copy of the game, a controlling window for said game, something playing music, Photoshop, Palm Desktop, Skype, Trillian. Sometimes add in Illustrator, sometimes add in VC+
  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @08:21PM (#16666915) Homepage
    You should have exactly three windows open. One is Firefox with multiple tabs. The next, Emacs with several buffers and perhaps several Emacs 'windows'. The third, a terminal program with tabs, or at your option, xterm plus GNU screen for terminal multiplexing.

    OTOH, if you have just one window and do everything inside Emacs or XEmacs, you can eliminate window managers too and just run xemacs full-screen (fiddle with the -geometry option) straight from your .xsession. If you need a window manager you can start one later from inside Emacs, and kill it when you no longer need it.

  • Right now I have 16 different windows. But two of those are IDEs with lots of opened files in tabs; one is a text editor with 9 files in tabs; and, of course, there is Firefox with 27 tabs (thanks God for the improved tab management in Firefox 2.0).

    I also keep windows in the same place for days between log-offs.
  • I'm sure since i'm replying to the main body of the article, this will never even be read, but here it goes

    I'm an OSX & Firefox user. Under heavy use my macbook will have 3-5 tabbed browser windows each with 10-20 tabs each. On top of that, i'd be running adium, itunes, textmate with 3-4 projects open at once, preview w/ 4-12 documents open, a couple terminal windows open, and usually 4 finder windows open.

    So, a whole lot, so probably upwards of 20 actual windows, and numerous tabs in a number of
  • i keep one linux user for each thing i'm doing, so firefox history preferences toolbar buttons and history are easier to navigate. Usually it's four users open, at least two windows per user. Development user has the sticky window (appears in all workspaces, or virtual screens) and one tworkspace for the IDE another for the doc and the database apps. I'm typing from the last workspace which is for "recreational activities", be it games, porn, slashdot...
  • Virtual desktop 1:
    FireFox (3-50 tabs)

    Virtual desktop 2:
    6-8 terminal sessions (dev/admin - multiple machines)

    Virtual desktop 4/5:
    More terminal sessions constantly tailing logs for quick system checks

    Virtual desktops 3/6:
    Available for word-processing, image editing, or whatever misc task I need at the moment.
  • Dual screen, with lots of overlapping windows:
    • Web browser - six to ten tabs
    • SSH/SFTP client - six to ten tabs again, unless patching, in which case *lots*!
    • VMWare console - probably four or five active VMs
    • Email client with three pane view
    • A couple of "Office" apps, possibly with multiple documents open
    • Maybe four or five other tools, but usually minimised when not in use
  • Right now on my work PC I have 9 windows open. My browser has 2 tabs open, and Visual Studio has 1 tab. Typically, I'll have 1-3 browser open with about 5 tabs each, 7-18 tabs in Visual Studio, and 2-5 Explorer (file system) windows open.

    I try to close Word documents, Powerpoint presentations, and Excel spreadsheets when I no longer need them so I can save memory.

    On my personal PCs I keep much less open. This is because I primarily use them for email. When I do serious computing at home, my personal e

  • I tend to have my main desktop in front of me and a laptop to my side so I can easily work on both. On my Linux desktop I have four virt terminals which each have dedicated tasks (1; web, active chat, current work 2; chat user lists and reference lists (phone numbers, address books) 3; email 4; possibly illegal torrent operations and anything of that nature) and I try to keep as much tabbed as possible. Then to my left on my Mac laptop I tend to just have the one desktop filled with everything (F11 under
  • I've gotten so used to virtual desktops, it's really ideal. It's a feature I just can't believe is still not built into Windows or OS X. But under Windows I now always install VirtuaWin [sourceforge.net] right away and use it constantly. I set it up to switch between desktops with Alt-Ctrl-Left and Alt-Ctrl-Right. Under OS X there is a program called Desktop Manager [berlios.de] that does the same thing, but with pretty switching effects. :)

    Seriously, I got hooked on using multiple desktops under Linux and I can't go back. It's one of th
  • On my MacBook (1.83GHz Core Duo with 512MB RAM), I usually have the following applications open:

    • Web browser (Safari). I normally browse one site at a time, but sometimes I have 3-4 tabs, especially when Slashdot browsing.
    • Mail client (Mail.app).
    • Instant messaging (iChat). Usually two or three windows: one for the buddy list, and one or two for people whom I'm chatting to
    • iTunes

    Depending on the task on hand, I may have a word processor, text editor, some X terminals and X11 applications (via a SSH tunn

  • Once upon a time, I would have answered 3.1. Later I would've said 95-98. But lately, my answer is X windows.
  • I just hit F9 and counted.. I have 20 windows open at the moment, four of which are browser windows with multiple tabs. (3-10 tabs each) six windows on my left monitor, 14 on the right the left monitor tends to have stuff that is always open in the background.. (iChat and iTunes and such) the right is where I have the windows which I'm actively using (terminals, browsers, editors)
  • I'm an IT Manager and I have a Parhelia triple-head system (3840x1024). Seven of the windows are for a database app that spawns new windows, rather than having some sort of parent window where everything loads. I have quite a number of Windows Explorer windows open that I'd probably close more often if I didn't have as much screen realestate. During peak times I typically add another five windows, on average.
  • Well, I have two machines that are set up differently. The first is my desktop, which has two 1600x1200 LCDs attached to it. I generally have e-mail open, a web browser window (and a few tabs in it) a file manager window (also with tabs, I use Konqueror) and then whatever apps I am using. Usually that is a word processor and a spreadsheet or OpenOffice Impress and the GIMP and a picture viewer. I tend to prefer tabs rather than multiple windows, so each app has just one window and I'll have 3-6 windows open
  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @08:55PM (#16667295) Journal
    *flexes his mouse muscle*
    well lets see here I have 17 windows opened for various ajax, java, c++ and other misc nerdy work I'm doing. I have no less than 8 different browsers open at any given time, currently opera with 8 tabs, firefox with 6, IE7 with 9 different tabs, Netscape, Lynx, and a couple other browsers each have one. Mozilla has 47 as I'm currently doing uh..research.

    I'm also defragging my torrents which requires another 4 windows, and I'm writing this slashdot entry through a special program I wrote which opens a tab for every sentence. All this on my custom built (I poured the plastic myself when I was 3) 36 inch desktop ultra super flat LCD.

    Asking a "who has more" question on slashdot is inviting a nerd flexing contest.
  • Right now, at this moment, having stumbled across this question...

    On my Debian Sarge box running Gnome:

    21 windows open on two virtual desktops (of 8 available);
    - 3 are firefox, one with 11 tabs, one with 3 tabs, one with 1 tab;
    - 11 are terminals, all but one ssh'd to one of two remote machines;
    - 2 are remote desktops, one VNC and one Remote Desktop;
    - 1 is a text editor, which itself has 5 tabs open.
    - 2 are spreadsheets, one with 3 tabs and one with 12 tabs.

    100% memory in use, 53% in cache, haven't rebooted
  • I'm probably on the far side of the issue as I use Enlightenment-0.16 on Linux and have 3 multiple desktops with 12 virtual desktops in each. In those 36 desktops I usually have 5+ browser windows with anywhere from 1-30 tabs in each. I once counted over 200 tabs open before I got irritated and started closing them. I have one desktop for music with a player, mixer, and file-broswer in it. Another desktop to monitor the logs, and another for email. If I'm coding I have the development desktop, another
    • Excuse my curiosity... But what on earth are you doing that you need to have 200 tabs open spread across multiple browsers? That would make my mind explode, not to mention if I was looking for a particular tab I would be sucking down cases of Geritol before I found it. ~(o:
      • by tres3 ( 594716 )
        Different things at different times. That time I was coding in asm and searching for things that made the call in question. It is much easier to just middle click everything Google returns sometimes and then scan through them later. Slashdot usually ends up in its own window and sometimes I click stories and don't read them for a few days; that can be 10 20 tabs right there. Same thing with Linux Weekly News and The Register. My point is that I open things often and don't close them that often. :/ As
  • Because I rarely use many programs at once, I am usually limited to one or two windows at once. If stray windows get left open, I close them (if I want them later, I will save/bookmark everything). I like to have a tidy desktop.
  • Four virtual desktops, set up in a square, with shortcuts to go up, down, left, and right, and no wrapping around. That just ends up being confusing. By setting it up this way, I can "go up, go right" to get to the top-right from any window. (Fitt's law, each virtual workspace is infinitely large this way.)

    Upper left: Web, console, maybe music player. Actually, this and all further "consoles" are actually Konsole, which is the best console app I've had by far. (I was xterm for a long time, but the way KDE m
  • I use fvwm's pager under Linux. I found some years ago that I was unhappy when I have less than 3x3 screens, i.e. 9 virtual screens. I open one large and teo small xterms per default. I usually have an opera with 3-10 tabs in the next one. The rest is then filled with between none and 4 xterms. All in all you could say (counting the tabs) that I have between 6 and 41 windows open at any given time. In special circumstances I may reach 60-70 open windows.

  • I am 30 and have been playing on pc's since the 8086 during 1986.

    I usually get uncomfortable when I have more than 3 apps opened until recently when memory became more plentiful. Today I have around 4 or 5 and 2 or 3 tabs on firefox.

    THe reason behind this is I remember teh days of running Windows 3.11 on 4 megs of ram and Windows95 on 8 megs of ram. TO get the best performance for games you needed to create your own autoexec.bat and config.sys files for DOS. I used Windows only for boring things like AOL 1.
  • Shouldn't this be a poll? :P

    I run dual 21" monitors, I have 10-12 applications open at any time, I leave them open most of the time, even if i'm not using them at the moment. One or two of those apps is always mozilla, and I'll have a random number of tabs open (usually a dozen, sometimes more than can be counted if I'm researching something, sometimes only a few if I'm finishing up). I have 6 quicklaunch icons, and another 6 hotkeys on my trackball to launch more stuff.

    hth hand
  • For me, this swings back and forth. Partly this is due to my preference for the command line: many of the things I do happen in the same window.

    Right now I've only got my "all the time" windows hanging around. Firefox is usually there, as is Emacs running Slime, an xclock, and a terminal dedicated to my sound card mixer. I also have a drop-down console a la Quake.

    Of course, when I'm working on something the number can spiral up: a word processor, a couple more Firefox windows to keep my work stuff separate
  • I try to have as few open at all times. This is because it makes finding the RIGHT window difficult, and trying to ALT+TAB through them all takes an eternity. When I am at work, I have:

    Firefox, Outlook, Zend Studio (or other editor), 2 terminals

    Anything else that I use is opened on an as-needed basis. When I see some of the other developers at work with a half dozen browser windows (not tabs - windows), four terminals, an editor, email client, a few instances of notepad, a database GUI, maybe an HTML editor
  • I'd say that is low. Usually about 6 or 7. Almost never more than 12.

    And spread across three or four pager screens.
    Neatness is next to Godliness you know.
  • I think to some extent, it may depend on when you started using computers. Back in the day, multitasking OSes didn't exist. Even when it became possible to have multiple windows open at any given time, the hardware wasn't fast enough to have multiple windows open at the same time. Some of us are a little slow to adapt to faster hardware....

    Personally, I try to minimize the number of apps I have open at any given time. If I'm not actually using the program, it's closed. I've got the same range of apps instal
  • For me, most of the time, it's two: One window is gnome-terminal, and the other is Firefox. This has been my pattern for the last year or two... I used to use screen, so I kept everything in one terminal; but nowadays I just open a new one when needed. (Pros: gnome-terminal's scrollback works. Cons: Can't detach and reattach on another terminal.)
  • Why restart your Mac every five days? It's not Windows 95 you know.

    My Mac currently has 28 open windows, from 14 different applications. 7 tabs in Firefox. Uptime is 23 days. This is typical. It sleeps when I'm not using it; I once worked out the trade-off point was about 8-12 hours of sleep = one bootup, in terms of energy consumption. It gets restarted every couple of months when there's an OS update that requires it. I don't close an application unless I only use it rarely and it's a bit of a memory

  • Right now I'm on my iBook with a typical number of windows and tabs open.

    I just counted 16 windows (spread over eleven apps) and 5 browser tabs open.

    This laptop rarely gets shut down, it usually just sleeps between uses. Restarts are probably every two or three weeks.

    Even when working in meatspace I used to work in layers on my physical desk. As a project manager/engineer I'd often have a large number of simultaneous projects running, and needed rapid access to all of them, depending on who the next call ca
  • At home I usually have on at least 8-9 windows open that stay open between restarts which is usually once every several months (Linux user here.. I rarely reboot my computer, let alone log off).
    Yes that does include about 5 different firefox windows with at least 3-4 tabs each that are "Static research" tabs that I have open for quite a while.

    My work system has MORE windows open as it has a dual monitor setup. Plus if you count all the sticky notes open there, that's about a dozen more. I need to get a se
  • 1 Firefox Window with a website I'm working on (usually a few tabs for various parts I'm looking at). 1 Internet Explorer just to verify there aren't any CSS or JS issues. 1 Text Editor 1 Photoshop 1 FTP 1 Stock ticker during the day
  • No suprise (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sigma 7 ( 266129 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:26PM (#16668623)
    As part of a recent piece of coursework (I'm a student) I talked to a number of people about how many windows they typically have open at any one time. I received a startling range of responses, and that got me thinking about what people consider a 'normal' working environment in terms of the number of windows they have open and what they like to get done.

    Inexperienced users, or those who prefer to focus on one task at a time, generally want to keep one single window open. I know this, since most customers that I've helped troubleshoot tend to close browser windows for their Router configuration page as soon as I want to open a command prompt window.

    Some users feel that running too many applications at once can slow down the system - in a way they are correct, but they also know that multitasking is more efficient than closing down the application window.

    Naturally, you have a crowd that works on mutliple things at once, and are willing to open as many windows as necessary - they either activly use these windows, or have them waiting in the background when done with the current task. This is what I do normally, but right now, I only have ~2 windows open since I'm using a laptop. I have no problem opening up much more windows on a real computer.

    And after reading this thread, you have users that open windows "just in case." Enough said.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly