How to create, use and remove virtual desktops in Windows 10
If you have ever used a Mac or a Linux computer, you surely know that these operating systems allow you to use multiple virtual desktops. If you are a Windows user, until Windows 10 you did not have this choice. Windows 10 is the first Windows operating system that lets you create and use virtual desktops. It is a handy feature that allows you to organize your tasks better. In this guide, we show you how you to create, work on, and remove virtual desktops in Windows 10:
NOTE: The features shared in this article apply only to Windows 10 with April 2018 Update. This version is available for free, to all Windows 10 users, as of April 30, 2018. If you do not already have it on your PC, this guide shows you how to install it right now: How to get the April 2018 Update today with the Windows 10 Update Assistant.
How to find the virtual desktops in Windows 10
If you want to create, use or close virtual desktops, you must first know where to find them. Virtual desktops in Windows 10 can be accessed from the Task View. Click or tap on the Task View button located on the taskbar, next to Cortana's search field. The Task View icon looks like a series of rectangles stacked one on another.
How to create a virtual desktop
To create a desktop, first, open the Task View by clicking or tapping on its icon from the taskbar. An alternative is to press the Windows + Tab keys on your keyboard, simultaneously.
When you open Task View, the screen dims, and all the opened windows are displayed as thumbnails.
NOTE: Beneath the currently opened windows, you might also see a list of other tasks that you have worked on previously, earlier today, yesterday and going back sometime in the past. This part of the Task View is called the Timeline, and it is a collection of your past activities, meaning that it collects and displays the things you did in the past, both on your current Windows 10 computer and also on the other synced devices. We have presented what the Timeline is and how to use it, in a separate guide: What is the Timeline in Windows 10 and how to use it to resume past activities.
Going back to the virtual desktops feature, to create a new desktop, on the Task View screen, click or tap the "+ New desktop" button found on the top-left corner of the screen.
Once a new virtual desktop is created, Windows 10 displays all the available virtual desktops in a bar on the top of the Task View screen. Each thumbnail shows a preview of the desktop it represents.
If you want to create more virtual desktops, repeat the procedure above: click or tap again on "+ New desktop."
How to switch between virtual desktops
Now that you have two or more virtual desktops created, if you want to get a quick image of what windows are open on one of them hover your mouse cursor on its tile. When you do that, the Task View displays a list of things found on that desktop.
To switch between virtual desktops, open the Task View and click or tap the desktop where you want to go.
A fast alternative to switch between desktops is to use keyboard shortcuts. To switch to the next desktop, press Windows + Ctrl + Right Arrow. To switch to the previous desktop, press Windows + Ctrl + Left Arrow. When you use these key shortcuts, Windows 10 scrolls the next or previous virtual desktop into view.
How to snap windows on a virtual desktop
All the virtual desktops that you have opened work like a regular desktop. That means that you can also snap the windows found on a virtual desktop, to its sides. You can do that the usual way, which is to drag and drop windows to the sides of the desktop, or you can use the Task View screen. If you prefer to use the Task View, open it and right-click or tap and hold on the window that you want to snap. Then, in the contextual menu, click or tap on the "Snap left" or "Snap right," depending on what you want.
If you want to learn more about how you can snap windows to the sides of your desktop, or even on multiple monitors, read these guides:
- The ultimate guide to snapping windows side by side in Windows 10
- How to snap Windows apps side by side and split the screen, on two monitors
How to move windows from one virtual desktop to another
When you launch an application, it opens by default on the active desktop, meaning the one that you are working on right now. However, to organize your tasks better, you might want to move a window from a virtual desktop to another.
To do that, open the Task View and hover over the virtual desktops until you find the one on which the window you want to be moved is opened. After you identify the desktop containing that window, keep the cursor over it for a short while. This action makes Task View display all the windows from that desktop. Find the window that you want to move and right-click or tap and hold on it. Then, in the contextual menu displayed, click or tap "Move to" and choose the virtual desktop where you want the window moved.
Another way to move a window from a virtual desktop to another is to drag and drop it. In the Task View, click or tap on the window that you want to move and drag it onto the virtual desktop on which you want it. Then release it.
How to pin a window or all the windows of an app on all the virtual desktops
There are cases in which you need to work with one application a lot, and you want it to be close by, regardless of the virtual desktop that you are on. For instance, if you use Word to write a document and you need to use several other applications, you can open each of them on different desktops. On the other hand, you might want to have Word open on every desktop you use. In such a situation, you might want to take advantage of the pinning feature. Windows 10 lets you pin a window or even all the windows opened by a particular app, on all the virtual desktops you have open.
To pin a window or all the windows of a particular app, to all the virtual desktops in Windows 10, first, open the Task View. Then right-click or tap and hold on the window or app you want pinned and then click or tap on "Show this window on all desktops" or "Show windows from this app on all desktops," depending on what you want.
How to close a virtual desktop
If you no longer need a desktop, you can close it anytime. To do that, open Task View and hover over the desktop that you want to remove. You should see an X button displayed on the top-right corner of the virtual desktop's miniature. Click or tap the X button, and the virtual desktop closes immediately.
If you are wondering what happens to the windows opened on the closed desktop, you should know that they are not closed too. The windows that were open on the closed desktop are automatically moved to the previous virtual desktop. For instance, if you are closing the third virtual desktop, every window on it is automatically transferred to the second virtual desktop.
Alternatively, you can also close the active virtual desktop by simultaneously pressing the Windows + Ctrl + F4 keys on your keyboard.
Are you using virtual desktops regularly on your Windows 10 machine?
Having more than one desktop is a handy feature, which many users like to have in Windows 10. As you have seen, the Task View works well and can boost your productivity. However, there are things still missing, that we would like to see added. For instance, we want to be able to set different names or backgrounds for each virtual desktop. What do you think about the virtual desktops from Windows 10? Do you use them regularly? Are there any other features you want Microsoft to add? Do not hesitate to use the comments section below to share your opinions, or problems, about the virtual desktops in Windows 10.