OK, so I’ve made some progress. As Rob suggested, I’ve determined that hiding the multiple desktops from the user in the Application Support folder is the way to go. I’ve wrapped my (significantly improved) code in an AppleScript Studio app. The new app is called “TatorTop” (Tator as in Rotator; Top as in Desktop) and is available for direct download:
and, as always, the beta code is:
PLEASE READ THIS WHOLE MESSAGE BEFORE USING THE APPLICATION – POSSIBLE DATA LOSSS COULD OCCUR FROM USING TATORTOP!
You may want to move all of your essential files/folders that are currently on your desktop to another folder in your home directory, not on the desktop. If you want to see the interface without modifying your system, simply hit “Cancel” when it asks for your administrative password.
In essence, this app will create a new folder in your Application Support folder named TatorTop, it will then move your desktop folder there (and rename it “Desktop 1”). It will also create two alternate desktop folders called “Desktop 2” & “Desktop 3”. Finally, it will create a symbolic link named “Desktop” to the moved & renamed desktop folder (“Desktop 1”) at the root level of your home folder and then restart the Finder.
This appears to work without incident on my machine. The symbolic link works fine and whatever you move to “~/Library/Application Support/TatorTop/Desktop 1/” will appear on your desktop (and any item you move to the desktop will appear in this folder). Also, running a script command “path to desktop as string” will return “~:Library:Application Support:TatorTop:Desktop 1:” so it shouldn’t break any scripts or applications. even if you hardcode “~:Desktop”, it should still work because the symbolic link is at that location.
To create and move the folders, you need to enter your administrator password. None of the commands used actually require administrative privileges but I require it of the user to make sure they are allowed to modify the machine at all. Once it is set up, then the interface allows you to choose from any of the three desktops and instantly make any of them active. This is accomplished by quitting the Finder, deleting the symbolic link, and recreating it pointing to any of the three desktop folders in the Application Support folder. I’ve also added an option to have separate desktop pictures per desktop folder.
The app also includes an uninstaller to revert your system back to its original state (select “Uninstall…” from the application menu). This will delete the symbolic link, move “Desktop 1” back to the root of your home directory, rename it “Desktop” and move “Desktop 2” & “Desktop 3” to your desktop so you won’t lose any files in case there were files/folders on those desktops (a future enhancement will look at the contents of those folders and will only place them on the desktop if they are not empty).
There is no help and the website is really just a place holder for now. If folks think it’s viable, I’ll start working on the documentation (always the hardest part, by far). I plan on adding some more features including better error checking, a utility to combine desktops (move all files/folders to a single folder adjusting file names as necessary), perhaps support for more desktops (do people really need more than 3?), implementing the uninstaller if the timeout has ended, drag & drop support of the desktop pictures, and, most importantly of all, making this a status item app so it will always be available for quick switching from the menu bar. Suggestions for features are encouraged. Would any of you pay for this?
Thanks (as always),