Microsoft has added multiple desktops to Windows 10. Here we’ll guide you on how to use virtual desktops, providing tips, tricks, and shortcuts.

Microsoft has named this feature “Task View,” and although you may have used virtual desktops with Linux or OS X previously, it may take some practice to roll the concept into your Windows 10 workflow. With the knowledge below, you may find that using virtual desktops increases your ability to work faster and become more organized.

First we’ll go over the Task View basics, then move on to advanced topics, settings, and workflow.

Task View Basics

How to create a virtual desktop with the mouse

  1. Click on the Task View icon in your taskbar.
    Click task view

    Click task view

  2. Click on the + New Desktop

    Click new desktop

    Click new desktop

Note: You can create an unlimited number of virtual desktops. I clicked the + New desktop button over 100 times, and did not experience any problems placing applications into them.

How to delete a virtual desktop with the mouse

  1. Click on the Task View icon in your taskbar.
    Click task view

    Click task view

  2. Hover your mouse over the Desktop you want to delete and click on the red
    Delete virtual desktop

    Delete virtual desktop

How to switch between virtual desktops with the mouse:

  1. Click on the Task View icon on your taskbar.
    Click task view

    Click task view

  2. Click on the virtual desktop you want to view.
    Select virtual desktop

    Select virtual desktop

Move applications from one virtual desktop to another with the mouse:

  1. Click on the Task View icon on the desktop.
    Click task view

    Click task view

  2. Click and drag the application, in the preview window, down into an existing desktop
    1. Move application to virtual desktop

    1. Move application to virtual desktop

  3. Release the mouse button to drop the application into a desktop
    2. Move application to virtual desktop

    2. Move application to virtual desktop

Note: You cannot “pull” an application out of a virtual desktop in the Task View. To “release” the application from a virtual desktop, you must close/delete the virtual desktop in which it resides.

Task View Advanced topics:

How to change the Task View settings:

I find that by default, the Task View is more confusing than it should be because applications will not appear to be open in the taskbar, even if they are running in a separate virtual desktop. To change the way this works, go into the Task View settings.

  1. Click on the Start Menu, or press the Windows logo key and then select Settings.
    Start menu setttings

    Start menu setttings

  2. Under Settings, go into System (Display, notifications, apps, power).
    System settings

    System settings

  3. In the System settings, click on Multitasking Settings:
    Multitasking settings

    Multitasking settings

  1. Under the Multitasking settings, change the default Virtual Desktops - On the taskbar, show windows that are open on: from Only the desktop I’m using to All desktops.
    Taskbar show open windows on all desktops

    Taskbar show open windows on all desktops

    By changing this setting, you will find that the icons on your taskbar will display a blue line under them if the application is open in any virtual desktop:

    Task bar virtual desktop application indicator

    Task bar virtual desktop application indicator

  2. Similarly, change the setting: Pressing Alt + Tab shows all windows that are open on: from Only the desktop I’m using to All desktops.
    Task bar alt tab shows windows on all desktop

    Task bar alt tab shows windows on all desktop

Virtual Desktop keyboard shortcuts

I think it’s best to get used to the new Task View feature by utilizing the keyboard shortcuts. Especially try using the Ctrl + Win + Left/Right shortcut for cycling through the existing desktops.

Subscribe to 4sysops newsletter!

Press this keyTo do this
Windows logo key +TabOpen Task view
Windows logo key +Ctrl+DAdd a virtual desktop
Windows logo key +Ctrl+Right arrowSwitch between virtual desktops you’ve created on the right
Windows logo key +Ctrl+Left arrowSwitch between virtual desktops you’ve created on the left
Windows logo key +Ctrl+F4Close the virtual desktop you’re using

Task view workflow:

  1. If I have too many applications open and I want to organize them into separate desktops, I first press Win + Tab and then drag each application window down to the “+ New Desktop” button. This will create a new virtual desktop just for that application. You should end up with a number of virtual desktops equal to the number of open applications. I tend to leave a single instance of Chrome open in a single virtual desktop, and cycle between Chrome tabs with Ctrl + Tab, and Ctrl + Shift + Tab.
  2. Each time you are going to open a new application, hit Ctrl + Win + D before you open the application, and then open it. Next, maximize the application for the most useable space. Tip: Inside PowerShell or a Command Prompt, (Alt + Enter) will maximize the console to full-screen.
  3. Once all of your desktops contain their own individual application, cycle through the Virtual Desktops with Ctrl + Win + left/right arrows.

Task View limitations:

  • If you shut down your computer with some applications open, your virtual desktops will still be there on the next startup, but your applications will not reopen in their previous locations.
  • If you have a Remote Desktop session open full-screen in one of your virtual desktops, you will not be able to use the Ctrl + Win + Left/Right arrows shortcut to move to a different virtual desktop.
  • You will not be able to rename the titles of the virtual desktops in Task View.
  • You will not be able to change the default keyboard shortcuts within Windows or in the registry.
  • If you hit Ctrl+Alt+Arrow (right/left) by accident, instead of Ctrl+Win+Arrow (right/left), you may change the orientation of your screen from vertical to horizontal. You can quickly get back to normal by hitting Ctrl+Alt+Up Arrow. Or you can completely disable the screen rotation/orientation by right-clicking on an empty part of the desktop, then clicking Graphic Options, then Hot Keys, then Disable:
Disable screen orientation and rotation hot keys

Disable screen orientation and rotation hot keys

With some knowledge and practice, I have found myself consistently using Task View to organize and speed up my workflow. Hopefully this article will help you grasp Task View, and this feature will remain in the coming version of Windows - Codename: Redstone.

3 Comments
  1. bruno 6 years ago

    Hi. I have a question. When im using chrome navigator in 1 desktop and I change to another, it keep the google open while firefox don’t.

     

    Can you help me?

    • Author

      Can you please clarify how the problem happens? It sounds like you are doing the following?

      Open 2 virtual desktops; Desktop 1 and Desktop 2
      In Desktop 1 you open 1 Google chrome window and 1 Firefox window.
      You switch to your empty Desktop 2.
      The Google Chome “follows” you to your Desktop 2, but Firefox does not?

  2. paul bridgewater 2 years ago

    Is there any simple way to disable or delete the Task View feature on Windows 10, It is really frustrating using this computer and I'm ready to get rid of it and buy an older laptop on eBay or switch to a MAC. 

Leave a reply

Please enclose code in pre tags

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 4sysops 2006 - 2023

CONTACT US

Please ask IT administration questions in the forums. Any other messages are welcome.

Sending

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account