Create Virtual Desktops in Windows 10


Organize with Virtual Desktops

We can all appreciate ways to minimize distraction. If you have multiple programs and/or files open, it can be difficult to switch among them, especially with one monitor. The Virtual Desktops feature in Windows 10 is the perfect remedy.

Why would I want to use Virtual Desktops? Here’s just a few reasons for adding additional desktops:

  • A great way to separate and organize programs and tasks. 
  • Keep all your files and web research for a specific project on one desktop, and everything else on another.  
  • There is no limit to the number of desktops you can create.
  • You can move programs or files from one desktop to another.

Create a New Desktop

To create a new, empty virtual desktop, click the Task View icon on the taskbar (just to the right of Search or Cortana), or use the Windows key Tab keyboard shortcut. (If the Task View icon is not displayed, right click on a clean place on the taskbar and click Show Task View button):

Task View icon on taskbar

Then click New Desktop at the bottom right of the screen:

A new, empty desktop displays with any existing desktops shown as thumbnails below:

new virtual desktop

Each virtual desktop is numbered, with the main (first) desktop identified as Desktop 1. To see which open windows and apps are associated with a given desktop, mouse over the thumbnail of that desktop at the bottom of the screen.

When you click on a desktop and then choose a file or app to work on, it switches to that window. You can still see all open programs no matter what desktop they are on, as their icons are underlined on the taskbar.

Display the virtual desktops again by clicking the Task View icon or using the Windows key Tab shortcut.

Move an App to Another Desktop

Whatever desktop you are in when you open an app or file is the one it resides on but you may want to put it on a different desktop. That can be done just about as fast as you can say it:

  • Click on the Task View icon to display thumbnails of the desktops at bottom of screen and display the contents of the current desktop:

Virtual Desktops

  • Drag and drop a thumbnail from main screen to desired desktop or, for more options, right click over the thumbnail you want to move, and choose from the command menu:

Move to another desktop

  • Point at Move to and click the desktop you want that app or file on.

Note that you can choose to have a particular app or file display on all desktops as well.

Close a Virtual Desktop

You can close an individual file or app or an entire desktop by displaying the desktop and clicking X in the upper right corner of the desired thumbnail in Task View.

These extra desktops are temporary and only exist while you have Windows open. They live in virtual memory so are not saved.

Shortcuts for Virtual Desktops

  • Display the Task View with the Windows key Tab shortcut.
  • You can switch virtual desktops with the mouse, but a fast way to move between them is by pressing Windows key Ctrl key and then the right or left arrow keys in Task View.
  • Rotate between the contents of a desktop by using any of the four arrows. Left and right arrows move through contents in order. Up and down arrows move by row. When desired app or file is selected, pressing Enter key opens it.
  • Press Tab key to move between the virtual desktop and its contents.

Laptops with a touchpad: Use a four-finger swipe to quickly switch between desktops. Swipe left to move to higher-numbered desktops, swipe right to return to Desktop 1.

How have you used Virtual Desktops? Share how they have helped you organize your tasks!


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