When working on a project, I generally have a couple of Explorer windows open to relevant folders and a couple of applications (e.g. Eclipse and a form development tool) open to specific project-related documents. There's a lot of value in that context, and I'd like to find a way to save a set of open apps under a project name, then restore that state at a later date.

Thus far all of the utilities I've found are virtual desktop products that don't save/restore state. I'm specifically looking for something that will run the applications I had running, open the documents I had open, and position the windows as they were. I'm amazed that such a seemingly simple concept as "Save my workspace state" doesn't seem to be available.

I'm on Windows 7. Any suggestions?

  • 1
    I assume hibernation is not an option? What about using (multiple) virtual machines, which can be "paused" in a particular state?
    – sblair
    Jun 30, 2010 at 23:34
  • Your problem about it being simple is that it really isn't. Raymond Chen had a writeup on his blog "The Old New Thing" about it, but I'm unable to find the link now.
    – user3463
    Jul 1, 2010 at 0:33
  • It definitely isn't simple. I've read a paper recently where people implemented just that and even permitted those saved sessions to be opened on other computers. According to them it was a huge piece of work, since you essentially have to cater each application individually, sometimes writing custom plug-ins where not otherwise possible to allow for the program state to be saved. And even then it wasn't perfect. Restoring opened pages in a browser was relatively easy – restoring the exact position within those documents wasn't.
    – Joey
    Jul 1, 2010 at 4:58

4 Answers 4


A potential solution is to run Virtual Machines (VM). One VM per project. You can then close and switch VM at will. VMs can sleep beautifully and almost never needs to reboot. They can also be saved, backuped, and run from other machines if needed. Finally, you can use shared drive for all your VMs to save your documents to the same spot on your main machine.

The problem will be licensing. But if you have an extra windows license (maybe your old XP?), you can probably install and register one Windows, install your programs, then make several copies of your VM. As long as you're only running one at once, it should work since they will all be the same.

VirtualBox is free.


You might take a look at Cache My Work There's a small review at Download Squad


I guess you could just use the built-in features Hibernation or Sleep?


If I'm not mistaken, setting the following confusingly named entry to 1:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced: PersistBrowsers

causes all open Explorer folders to be restored on restart. Very handy.

One slight problem: if you have tree view open, it gets screwed up on restore.

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