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How Many Windows?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the can-you-multitask-better-than-your-OS dept.


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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Windows (1)

mattpointblank (936343) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666561)

5 days between restarts? Yeesh, I'm glad I don't pay this guy's electricity bills. Call me crazy, but I shut my machine down when I'm not using it (mostly because the awesome fan power would keep me awake).

As for windows, typically about 5+ tabs (I seriously saw FF 2.0 hit 700K of memory the other night when I opened about 20 tabs, wish I'd grabbed a screenshot) and around 4 or so windows, including IM stuff. I wish Windows had a feature like Fedora's multiple desktop stuff with the 4 thumbnails, as this would help me split stuff up better since half my taskbar is taken up with quick launch shortcuts or status bar icons I need on display.

Re:Windows (1)

mattpointblank (936343) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666587)

Err when I say "700K" I use K as an abbreviation for thousand, not as a size measurement.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666749)

Err when I say "700K" I use K as an abbreviation for thousand, not as a size measurement.

It still does not make sense, you monkey.

Re:Windows (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667075)

It makes sense, I suppose, if he doesn't know what the "K" in the memory listing in task manager is, and is just saying that the number to the left of it is 700,000.

Re:Windows (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667095)

Yes, we gathered that - but 700KB of RAM is nothing. I suspect you meant M, for mega; for what it's worth, I once saw FF taking over 1.5GB of RAM. Given that the machine only had 1GB of physical RAM, I was not too impressed...

Re:Windows (1)

siebzehn_msc (893545) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666613)

You shut your machine down when you are not using it???? I have 3 machine's that haven't been rebooted in over a year (linux of course). What is the point in shuting your machine down? If you are not using it contribute in a program like SETI@home ( or in a torrent.

Re:Windows (1)

Lo Spettro Nero (996136) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666681)

Three! He has three more years left in his computer's life if he turns it off regularly. Ah ah ah ah!

Re:Windows (1)

siebzehn_msc (893545) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666805)

Au contraire circuit boards suffer more from constant on-off than from sustained use

Re:Windows (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666853)

That's what he meant, no?

Re:Windows (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667281)

If so he probably would have said "three less years". So, either "no" (in response to your question) or the guy's a moron.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16667001)

It's not quite as clear cut as that though is it? It depends entirely on the operating environment of the computer. If it runs hot it could well die faster from non-stop operation. If the programs that are running in the background when nobody's using it are accessing the hard disk it could greatly increase the chances of drive failure. If the power isn't properly protected and backed up a brownout/blackout/surge has a far greater chance of doing damage to a machine running full-time.

These are all what-ifs but it's important to remember that the there's a lot more to consider in the "on-off" vs. "always on" debate than the physics of the circuit boards.

Re:Windows (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666747)

I have three servers that I keep running 24/7. Unless I need to warm up the apartment when I'm cold, I normally turn off my extra machines if I'm not using them.

Re:Windows (1, Insightful)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666811)

What is the point in shuting your machine down?

Because it's a horrible waste of energy? Because of the whole 'global warming thing'? Sorry but SETI@home and torrents are not a valid reason to keep your computer running all the time and I think it's nothing short of grossly irresponsible of people like you who run your system 24/7/365 when it is completely unnecessary.

I don't care if you're folding proteins to cure cancer, searching for aliens, sticking a finger up at the RIAA or just keeping it running to tell all your friends about your big swinging dick uptime - it's all a waste. Programs like those should be used to make use of spare processing power - when your computer would otherwise be on and doing nothing, those five-to-fifteen minute breaks where it'd be disruptive to turn it off but a shame to have it sitting there. By keeping your system running solely for those reasons you're doing a lot more harm than good. Switch it off.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16667037)

or just keeping it running to tell all your friends about your big swinging dick uptime - it's all a waste.

Oh, now that's giving me a clue... a RAGING clue.

Re:Windows (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667101)

I keep an extra workstation running off an inverter in my Suburban. I need to keep it idling or the battery dies!

Re:Windows (2, Interesting)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667201)

I don't care if you're folding proteins to cure cancer, searching for aliens, sticking a finger up at the RIAA or just keeping it running to tell all your friends about your big swinging dick uptime - it's all a waste.

Maybe it's a waste to you, but different people have different priorities. Science always takes energy and time from other activities, but it often results in net energy savings in the long run. For a rather ironic example, take a look at [] . The project expects you to keep computers running in order to deal with global warming; they estimate that the energy thus wasted is not significant to global warming itself. I can't remember the exact reference, but the mere existence of that project should be indicative of the general thinking involved.

As for me, one tiny reason for keeping a computer turned on is to host my personal website, since my university-provided web space is too limited. This is also a matter of control; you could always pay for someone for hosting, and pray that they do things the way you like. I guess this is the kind of thing that is economically inefficient, as opposed to specialization, but many people prefer such irrational DIY ways of life.

Forget the environment then... (2, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667283)

.... argue money. That always gets people interested.

Do you realize that an average 300+ watt machine running 24/7 costs you about $15-$20 a month in electricity?

If you don't believe me get a power usage meter.

You're basically paying $20 a month for the privilege of contributing to Folding@home or whatever. You're trying to say that money wouldn't do more good being given to your local food bank or something?

No thanks.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666621)

I wish Windows had a feature like Fedora's multiple desktop stuff with the 4 thumbnails, as this would help me split stuff up better since half my taskbar is taken up with quick launch shortcuts or status bar icons I need on display.

You can if you use litestep. Which is a nifty explorer shell replacement with a fully customizable GUI. []

Re:Windows (1, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666927)

I wish Windows had a feature like Fedora's multiple desktop stuff with the 4 thumbnails, as this would help me split stuff up better since half my taskbar is taken up with quick launch shortcuts or status bar icons I need on display.

they do, it's the virtual desktop manager (VDM) power toy, and it's a free download for Windows XP.

I love the way people who don't know shit about windows love to criticize microsoft for bullshit reasons. There are plenty of reasons to blame them, you don't have to make shit up.

Re:Windows (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666989)

VDM sucks. I love how windows users like to think every half-assed rip off feature they get tossed is just as good as the real thing.

Re:Windows (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667085)

hey do, it's the virtual desktop manager (VDM) power toy, and it's a free download for Windows XP.

I love the way people who don't know shit about windows love to criticize microsoft for bullshit reasons. There are plenty of reasons to blame them, you don't have to make shit up.

And I love the way people who insist they know about Windows and *nix are quick to point out similarities which aren't similar at all. Put another way, Microsoft's VDM is a toy along the lines of notepad. It sucks. YMMV, but its approach of "hiding" open windows doesn't count for much. Unless, of course, you can't tell the difference.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666633)

That's not a special feature of Fedora, buddy. Basically all X desktops have a pager.

I'd say in Linux I have maybe 10 windows open at a time if I'm doing something and in windows it'll be closer to 20+. Lack of tabs and the crappy command line requires a lot of file windows that I'd never have open on a Linux. On a mac I'll have no more than 3 windows open at a time. It's just too much of a hassle to switch between them with that clunkiest of clunky interfaces.

Re:Windows (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666663)

At home I average 30-40 days between restarts, but only keep 3-4 windows open at a time.

At work I average 1 day between restarts (it is after all a policy to log out at the end of the day, perfect time for a restart) and keep 7-10 windows +7 browser tabs open during the workday. 8 if I'm also reading technocrat- for some reason our firewall isn't compatible with firefox for reading technocrat, so I need to use IE for that.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666713)

700K? Sheesh. I'd think 640K would have been enough for just about anything.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666723)

Actually Windows does have a add in that will allow you to have multiple desktops. It is one of the powertoys that Microsoft has developed. toys/xppowertoys.mspx []

Re:Windows (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666725)

Actually, there is a powertoy just for this: stall/2/WXP/EN-US/DeskmanPowertoySetup.exe [] Its not perfect, but it does do what it says. Sometimes it removes your background and I'm not sure of a workaround except not to switch desktops.

Re:Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666735)

In the fall/winter, you may as well leave it running. The additional heat means that you won't need to use your furnace quite so much.

Re:Windows (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666999)

If it's a gas furnace, it's probably not any cheaper to run since gas prices (not just gasoline; heating oil and natural gas too) have gone up so much, but it's a lot more efficient to use gas for heat.

Re:Windows (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667051)

Except if you live in an apartment where the heat is included with the rent but electricity costs extra.

Re:Windows (1)

Tarquin Sidebottom (239733) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666787)

"I wish Windows had a feature like Fedora's multiple desktop stuff with the 4 thumbnails, as this would help me split stuff up better since half my taskbar is taken up with quick launch shortcuts or status bar icons I need on display."

MS offer a 'virtual desktop manager' on their XP Powertoys [] page, but it's a rather lame implementation.

Re:Windows (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666815)

You have received multiple suggestions for multiple desktops on Windows. Ignore them, and use Virtua Win: []

Re:Windows (1)

thelost (808451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666919)

perhaps it's 5 days between restarts, and he sets his mac to Sleep at night?

Also, do you mean a virtual desktop program for windows like this [] ?

Hardly Any (1)

Captiivus (1021009) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666939)

I tend to be very focused on whatever I do, which seriously effects the amount of windows I have open, especially on Windows machines. Typically on a Windows machine, I'll have 1-3 windows open. Firefox is always open, it only closes when I have to reboot. Other than that, I might have an IM window open if I'm talking with someone, and maybe iTunes. On Linux however, because I can switch between desktops, I might have as many as 6-8 windows open. Firefox (for normal browsing) and Rhythmbox are usually open in one desktop, and Firefox (research) and OOo for papers I'm writing in another, and random other stuff (GIMP usually) open in another.

Re:Windows (1)

plonk420 (750939) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667135)

sir, turn in your Geek Card now. if you're not in the Overclocking crowd, you are in the Silent PC crowd. if not, you are stuck in between in a Purgatory-like void. I myself am stuck in a housing situation that only has electric heat, so rather than waste electricity simply generating heat, why not at least be productive (or tell yourself the computers are being productive) by running medical distributed computing projects? i run two computers on distributed computing (one of which is an HT/Gaming PC) and a third to download/IRC during the winter. it's barely enough, but it keeps things plenty warm as long as it's not 10F or below...

Depends on the computer / other things (2, Funny)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#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..

Re:Depends on the computer / other things (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667189)

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.

ten windows for me (1)

wesleyt (745624) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666567)

Hmm; let's see. Right now: Opera, four tabs; one is my office's bb2.html. Firefox; tab count varies depending on what I'm doing; two right now. Thunderbird. xplorer2; one pane, two tabs right now. ActionOutline. iTunes. PuTTY; with nine screens on the far side. Two OneNote 2007 notes that need to be filed. And I'm writing this in Papyrus.

That's ten windows, scattered across my laptop's display and a 19" flat panel, running Windows XP.

Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666589)

How many Windows are in your house?

Re:Depends (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666771)

You don't want to mention that in public. Some hacker might try to throw a rock through some of those Windows.

Re:Depends (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667171)

this question reminds me of a project i worked on.. the app used pure win32 controls and has alot of forms on tabs and check boxes// (note that windows treates each one of them as a window) so if i opened more than 2 copies of the app i would run out of windows in Windows (i didn't write it)

but on average.. i would say 10-20 that i am currently working on.. not counting the stuff hidden in the tray..

Does this include... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666597)

... things minimised to the system tray? Because I prefer to keep a lot of stuff down there, out of the way.

Not many... (1)

Enoxice (993945) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666611)

I've usually got 5 or 6 (8 at most) windows open, spread through 4 virtual desktops. Browser, file manager, console (though yakuake: [] has alleviated that need), IM stuff, a game of tetris, and maybe email.

Eight (1)

SPrintF (95561) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666615)

Eight windows. Most of these are applications I'm actively using. This enables switching between code, documentation and my test environments.

Suggestion to the editors: this might have been more useful as a Slashdot Poll rather than an Ask Slashdot.

Only 3 for me (1)

SigNuZX728 (635311) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666629)

At work, I usually just have Eudora, Winamp, and Firefox open. I close them all when I leave (my mobo has bad capacitors and likes to turn itself off at night sometimes).

Don't really see any potential for discussion, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666631)

Let's see:
1 Firefox (1 tab, which is this one)
1 mIRC (5 channels)
2 AIM (list + away message)
1 Winamp
1 MP3 folder
1 Word document

Total = 7.

R&D (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666647)

In general, I tend to have only one window open at a given time. I may, however, have several programs running. My typical day at work has Dev-C++, MPLab, Firefox, and other miscellaneous things going on that I peruse regularly. This is all on a Windows XP machine. At home it tends to be the same. Only one window open at a time. Usually its only Firefox or Konqueror running and the occasional Terminal. (obviously I am running Linux) I only have one window open at a time beause I like my work spread out in front of me, especially when working with very small parts (Microchip assembly code, for example) and I have to have a great sense of awareness about my work. Most of the time, the status bar takes up much of the on-screen real estate, so I dont like to have more than one window on screen at a time simply because for every screen you add, you get much less space in your owrking environment.

Less than I thought (1)

Vaevictis666 (680137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666669)

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

Totally, completely depends. (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666673)

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 would need 25 windows... Unless you are counting tabs within programs like Dreamweaver.. I can understand that you would want to leave browser windows open when you find useful resources, like PHP function description pages for functions you use often.. But 25 still seems fairly high to me.

I find that simple is better when I work. I try not to clutter my workspace and I feel that things move more smoothly.


Re:Totally, completely depends. (1)

Buck2 (50253) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667167)

To be honest, I can't begin to understand how you would need 25 windows...

I have twenty desktops and an average of two or so windows, including terminals, open on each of them. I also have three different VNC sessions running on other machines, with multiple desktops in each of them. I just checked the uptime on this workstation and it's about two months. The 40 open windows (plus who knows how many others I expect to be there at all times) is actually more a reflection of a stable work environment than anything.

Desktop #1: system things
Desktop #2: web browsing
Desktop #3: coding
Desktop #4: running the program I'm coding
Desktop #5: email
Desktop #6: VNC (irc and whatnot in there)
Desktop #7: VMWare (running Windows for Adobe Illustrator)
Desktop #8: alternate coding environment for a different project
Desktop #9: alternate program running environment
Desktop #10: VNC to a campus computer
Desktop #11: syslog output and whatnot for a machine in a different state that I'm responsible for
Desktop #12: xmms and interface with my web radio
Desktop #13: VNC to a usenet client
Desktop #14: I don't use that one for some reason
Desktop #15: pr0n, baby
Desktop #16: foreign sysadmin things
Desktop #17: Matlab
Desktops #18-#20: miscellaneous

If you know that the computer is stable, there is no reason to not isolate projects from each other in different places and expect them to still be in the same state when you get back. That's how I end up with tons of windows.

windows? how about desktops? (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666701)

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 open up.
4 + 5: Development. Specifically, 4 has the Editor, several consoles and the Matlab command window. 5 has the odd help browser and the Matlab Workspace on it.

So in terms of Windows, not counting random consoles, that's about 2 + 1 + 3 + 5 + 2 = 13 on a normal day.

Re:windows? how about desktops? (1)

daranz (914716) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666835)

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 my desktop, and so sometimes I use the two workspaces like I'd use 2 monitors, because I'm so used to it.

desktops? how about windows (1)

tehshen (794722) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666965)

My desktops have slowly, but surely, converged into one screen [] 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 terminal.

That said, I am very picky about windows, and judging by the comments that I have seen so far, no-one is being kind to the window pushers. Emacs buffers get killed if I'm not using them, or haven't used them for a while (half an hour or so). I have the annoying habit of closing chat windows, making searching in the logs quite annoying. Terminals usually get opened for one particular purpose, then I close them again straight after.

I hope I haven't failed some sort of test, that would be awful.

Re:windows? how about desktops? (1)

Rudolf (43885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667175)

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?

Not too many (1)

VolkerLanz (1005127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666707)

I find it distracts me to have too many open windows. Right now, just surfing and wasting time, there are 11, some of them minimized, on two 19" displays, their respective machines being connected via synergy [] .

When I'm programming, it's usually KDevelop full screen on one display and some misc stuff on the other, like Konsole, chat application and mail.

Oh, and there's the notebook... Nearly forgot. It only has Outlook open mostly, the only reason I need a Windows machine around. *sigh*

Slashdot Poll (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666755)

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.

Minimum: 10, average: ~20 (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666759)

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 computers? I work across several computers and each has it's own set of different applications open at any given time. I was only counting my primary computer above, but if you count all of them, the numbers above would be roughly tripled.

One, maybe two. (1)

goofyheadedpunk (807517) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666761)

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 still actively interested in.

So one window, hundreds of applications. I'm usually interacting with fifty different programs, but is that what you're shooting for?

Not geeky enough? (1)

yasny_jp (948381) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666765)

I must not be geeky enough. At work, right now I have 3 windows open and 3 tabs in Firefox. I'm not a programmer right now, but when I was I would probably have maybe, 5-6 windows open (but within those windows there would be multiple tabs open).

I can't imagine having 25 separate windows open... even spread over virtual desktops, that's just too much clutter for me.

5 at the most (1)

thelost (808451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666767)

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?

Fifty Million Billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666777)

Just kidding. MOre liek forty million billion>

Windows Isn't a Great Metric (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666779)

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 reasonably. I have around 30 files open to edit, and typically three to six tabs in Firefox. (I try to keep it pared down to three, but it balloons up when I'm working with lots of pages.) Also, a number of applications have multiple windows but really aren't any more interesting than multiple tabs. For example, are the different chat windows in Trillian really different from the different tabs in Gaim?

When I first read.. (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666783)

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.

windows aplenty! (1)

jevring (618916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666789)

I usually have 10-15 windows open, including IMs and such. Normally about 3-4 browser windows with anything from 3 tabs to about 40.
When i've been using my computer for an hour, and I have my IDE open, I use up about 1gb of ram, give or take...

Usually 5 or so (1)

The Slaughter (887603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666791)

Usually, Trillian, MIRC, Firefox (w/ tabs), Outlook, and Itunes.

What about Windows IN Windows (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666797)

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.

~5 (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666799)

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.

There are four lights! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666827)

No.. there are FIVE!

Number of windows proportional to amount of monito (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666833)

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 ubuntu box at the moment.
He might go 5 days between reboots, but typically I go 30-45 days between reboots; I just sleep the computer in the mean time. Plus it's a laptop, which consumes almost zero energy compared to a desktop.

My windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666861)

I usually have 15-20 windows open (browser, mail, IRC, IDE, half a dozen commandlines, mediaplayer, a couple of text editors, one or two file system browsers, sometimes a task-specific program such as an image editor or a pdf viewer, and often two or three additional browsers for testing). When I get above 20 windows, I start to lose track and go through my commandlines and text editors to close unused ones. My main browser usually has ~10-15 tabs open that I'm actively working in, although can easily have 40+ tabs open when I'm specifically searching, reading webbased mailinglist conversations, etc. Sometimes I use two windows for my main browser, one work-specific, one for other things, but this is rare, and usually the separation doesn't last long. About half the windows are full screen (1680x1050) to remove the sense of clutter; mostly it's utility windows that aren't (text editors, file system browsers, commandlines).

Windowphiliacs (1)

geekmansworld (950281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666869)

25? Geez...

Right now I have one browser window/tab open and Mail open in the background. That's all.

I like tabs, but only for flipping back and forth quickly between a few web pages. Why on earth would you need to be actively switching between 25 different things? Are you that good at multitasking?

Don't fool yourself: you're just not closing things that you don't need. I bet there's a million icons on your desktop that could be better stored in other directories. Organize!

Maybe pick another question? (1)

Denyer (717613) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666885)

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 to one side and in occasional use. Throw in a couple of launch icons and a few hotkeys and everything's not far away. Browser tabs? Anywhere between one and twenty plus.

Also important is whether applications save their state when closed -- browsers and editors in particular -- and what window handling you're using (taskbar, some items sidelined to a separate menu, etc.)

Meh, I have 25 windows open just for GAIM (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666895)

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.

Depends on what I'm doing (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666903)

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.

About 15 open windows with tabs (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666907)

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++, sometimes CuBase or Audacity.

The number of the counting shall be three (3, Funny)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666915)

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.

Depends on how you count them (1)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666921)

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.

2 cents (1)

NoTheory (580275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666923)

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 them.

Open Now (1)

666999 (999666) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666929)

KDX Client 5 windows
Finder 2
Safari 6 with about 15 tabs open in each window
iTunes 2 (main and EQ)
TextEdit 6
Jomic 1
Smultron 1 2 (main and Activity Viewer)

It seems any app that is multi-document aware should be able to handle a tabbed or list interface to minimize the number of windows it uses.

Quite a few (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16666935)

I run a Laptop with 2 Gig of memory... and I try to never shutdown... but Windows, uh, usually forces me to reboot about every 23 days (*sigh* wish I could have Linux on this laptop)... I do, however, hibernate the laptop alot, so thats why my uptime is particularly high (IMHO) for my (ab)use.

As far as windows, at any given time, I have 4-5 Wordpads open, 4-5 notepads open, 1-3 command prompts open, including some using BASH from Cygwin., 3-10 (sometimes as high as 15 or 20) PuTTY windows open, Itunes, Outlook, Excel and/or Word, 1-2 of IE, 1-2 of Flock, 1-5 of Opera and 20-40 copies of Firefox running.

Hope you found that interesting.

As few as possible (1)

Samdroid (1001824) | more than 7 years ago | (#16666947)

I try to keep as few windows open as possible.

Whenever I'm doing any design work, I tend to have a few windows open. These include an ftp client, firefox, dreamweaver, photoshop and googletalk to talk to people i'm working with. I close all conversations as soon as I've said what I want to and if I remember, close all tabs I'm not using.

Due to myself forgetting, I normally end up with 10 windows open. Lots of conversations. Multiple explorer windows.

Firefox usually has a few. Whenever doing web based stuff, it's normally lots of tabs with the same thing in.

Multiple windows aren't normally a problem, due to the magical "show desktop" button.

my desktop (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667005)

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...

Varies (1)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667013)

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.

Usually six or seven, but lots and lots of tabs... (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667023)

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 (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667043)

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 environment reflects my work environment.

Mixtures... And to many! (1)

cloricus (691063) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667083)

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 expose` is awesome) including more chat, mostly work, and basically a clone of the applications on my Linux box (this allows me to pickup my mac and go roaming while continuing what I'm doing in real time). Both boxes have extra tasks that each one carries out and the other can't do.

In total I have around 80 windows open at any one time over the two computers; plus tabs in ffox, im, and xchat. :) ...Some times the ease of multitasking under Unix can be a curse.

It's all about the virtual desktop switching (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667105)

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 [] 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 [] 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 the few GUI "features" I honestly feel has increased my productivity. Right up there with the mouse scroll wheel. I can't believe I lived without it for so long back in the Windows 2000/98 days. And to think that it's been on Unix/Linux for years without being "copied" yet! (By the first party vendor, that is.)

To answer the original question, I usually about 1 or 2 windows open per desktop, with 4 desktops configured. But it depends what I'm doing. I am one of those "close it when I'm done" kind of people, but memory caching does wonders... starting up FireFox after it's been closed is quite quick, no matter what operating system you're using.

What is a window (1)

non-poster (529123) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667123)

Please define Window. Does that mean an actual movable-on-the-desktop rectangular entity, or an application?

For example, does each tab in Firefox count? They are potentially conceptually different subjects, so my brain has to keep track of them separately.

How about photo editing tools (The GIMP, etc): each image opens in a different window, plus tools within the application open in different windows (Layers, etc). I can have 5 on-screen windows open to edit 1 image, or 6 windows to edit 5 files, etc.

How about in the terminal window: I can have multiple tabs, and each tab can be running screen, each with multiple sessions, and each session can have background tasks. Should these be counted as windows?

I can also run daemons or other interactively-started processes that don't have any windows, but they are definitely running. Should these be counted?

It always helps to have more memory (1)

Flyskippy1 (625890) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667125)

Let's see, there are currently 5 here open on my laptop. My work computer, right next to me, currently has 19, including two browsers windows with 6 tabs, 4 development environments (which is fewer then usual, and half of which are database management), then 4 folder shells, two windows for IMs (tabbed IMs help) and one for music, and one for mail of course. The home non-server computer is usually similar, only more browsers and fewer dev environments. Why is it that I never want to reboot my computer? Because it takes forever to get all those windows back open. Even when I was running linux and it would open most of them back up for me, it was a pain.

Virtual desktops/workspaces (1)

Ankur Dave (929048) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667139)

I usually have 10-15 windows open, distributed over 2 workspaces (in GNOME). An instance of Firefox for each workspace, bluefish, OO Writer, emacs, the file manager (Nautilus in my case), a plain text editor (gedit), and 3-5 terminals.

My count (1)

krid (26077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667145)

My work machine has 14 windows, including two firefox windows with a total of 26 tabs. That's spread across two virtual desktops on a dual-head machine with two 1280x1024 monitors, running Gentoo. My other work machine is a single-head setup, and I've got four virtual desktops, and about the same number of windows.

On my home system (also Gentoo with the same dual-head setup), I've currently got ten windows and a measly 7 firefox tabs (usually there's another two ff windows each with a dozen or so tabs).

I have windows I never close... (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667177)

I restart when there's a power outage, or when a software update requires my desktop environment to be restarted anyway (e.g., if I have to update something pretty fundamental (like GTK for instance) because an application update that I want requires a new version of it). This can be several months, potentially.

It's annoying to have to close all of my windows, because I lose track of everything I was in the middle of.

Windows I leave open for weeks or months at a time include:
* Typically about three Emacs windows: one for Gnus and one for each relevant major project I'm in the middle of.
* Several gnome-terminal windows: one regular one for miscellaneous stuff, one root terminal for administrative stuff (such as doing a portupgrade -- that in itself can take a couple of weeks), and usually a couple of others related to projects I'm in the middle of (e.g., if I'm doing a dev project that involves a database, there'll be one for the db console; if I'm doing a web dev project, there'll be one tailing the error log; and so forth).
* One Firefox window, with a number of tabs.
* will almost always have at least one window open. Often this will be my financial spreadsheet, or if nothing else I'll leave the last-used thing open to keep the app in memory so I don't have to wait for it to load next time I need it.
* xmms
* do my two panels count as windows?

That's just the stuff I practically never close. At any given time I typically have several other windows open, sometimes for up to several days at a time.

Hmm.. (1)

rir (632769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667179)

Let's see... I generally have anywhere from 30-65 spread across 2 KVM'ed machines, 3 VNC desktops, and 1 RDC connection. Sometimes it's enough to drive a person to want to move into the forest and become a "back to the land" hippie.

Lots and Lots (1)

roadoi (68017) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667183)

2x Heads (no Xinerama)

- Head 1 -
19x Eterm's (SSH to various servers, etc)
1x TSClient
1x Citrix ICA Client
1x Firefox with 10 open tabs

This is spread across 4 Virtual Desktops

- Head 2 -
14x Eterm's (SSH to various servers, IRC, etc)
1x TSClient
1x GEdit
1x Firefox with 3 open tabs (right now)

This is also spread across 4 Virtual Desktops

Window Count on OS X (1)

linguae (763922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667193)

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 (
  • 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 tunnel to a school account where I do my CSC homework), iCal, or TeXShop open.

I also notice that the amount of windows that I have open is proportional to the speed and performance of the computer that I'm using. For example, when I was using my Duron 950MHz with 384MB RAM and either Windows XP or FreeBSD, I normally only had my web browser (Firefox or Konqueror), GAIM, my email client (Thunderbird or Kontact), and (on Windows) iTunes opened, and sometimes some terminals opened whenever I was doing CSC homework. I would run almost as many windows on that machine as my Mac, but I would be a bit more cautious about performance. On my 266MHz Pentium II laptop with 64MB RAM running FreeBSD, I normally stick to just one application (usually my web browser, Opera, and even that one application can be demanding. (Running some X terminals, gvim, Opera, GAIM, and another GTK app on that machine is an exercise of patience whenever switching between applications, and I couldn't even begin describing the horrors of using OpenOffice on that machine).

Innovations such as Expose and (on KDE and WindowMaker, the desktops that I used on my BSD machines) virtual desktops make using multiple windows much easier. I tried not to have more than 4 or 5 windows opened on my non-Mac machines because there is no easy way of finding all of them (although virtual desktops do help with organizing categories of windows). Because of Expose, I am able to have up to 15 windows on my screen (I've worked with that many windows once) on my Mac and still work very efficiently and be productive without being lost. Bringing virtual desktops to OS X (something that I miss from my BSD experience) and giving virtual desktops the power of Expose will make my Mac even better to use.

10, of course (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667229)

Once upon a time, I would have answered 3.1. Later I would've said 95-98. But lately, my answer is X windows.

20 windows (4 with multiple tabs) (1)

tim1724 (28482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667257)

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)

23 Windows, 7 Firefox tabs, 3 monitors (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667277)

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.

How many windows (1)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667287)

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.

When I'm using my laptop, I'll have the e-mail and file manager open again (same OS as the desktop- Gentoo) and whatever I'm working on. Since the laptop does not have all that big of a screen, I set up AIGLX and Beryl to have the spinning cube deal.

Well... (4, Funny)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16667295)

*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.
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