How to Use Virtual Desktops in Windows 10


Virtual desktops were finally added as a built-in feature in Windows 10. If you’ve used Linux or Mac, you know this can be a very useful feature. If you open a lot of programs at once, this feature allows you to keep them organized.

Note: some of the screenshots look a little different because we took them with a pre-release version of Windows 10. Everything works the same way, though.

Using Virtual Desktops in Windows 10

The virtual desktops feature in Windows 10 is called “Task View” and is located on the Taskbar.

This screenshot looks different than the others below because we updated it after the final release of Windows 10.

Clicking the “Task View” button brings up the Task View interface, where you can see your open windows on virtual desktops you’ve added. When you open the Task View interface for the first time, or you only have one desktop, the “Add a desktop” button is available. Click it to add another virtual desktop.


Now, when you click the “Task View” button, all your desktops display on the Task View interface. In the example below, there are no windows open on either of the desktops.


If you have program windows open on your desktops, they show on the thumbnails of the desktops on the Task View interface. When you move your mouse over a desktop on the Task View interface, the open programs on that desktop display as large thumbnails above the Task View interface. Click on one of the large thumbnails to make that program (and the corresponding desktop) active. It’s similar to the old Alt + Tab feature from previous versions of Windows. Click on a desktop on the Task View interface to make that desktop active.


You can switch desktops using the keyboard, as well. To do this, press the Windows key + Tab. The programs on the currently active desktop display as large thumbnails, as discusses above and the thumbnail for the currently active program on that desktop is outlined. Now, press Tab again. This removes the outline from the active program thumbnail and Task View interface active. Use the arrow keys to move among the desktops on the Task View interface. When you have highlighted the desktop to which you want to switch, press Enter.


Windows indicates when a program is open on other desktop be putting a line under that program’s icon on the Taskbar. Clicking the icon not only activates the program, but also the desktop on which it is open.


You can move programs among the different desktops you’ve set up. To do so, switch to the desktop containing the program you want to move. Click the “Task View” button on the Taskbar. Right-click on the large thumbnail for the program you want to move, select “Move to,” and then select the desktop number to which you want to move the program.


The program now displays on the other desktop.


To close a desktop, click the “Task View” button on the Taskbar to bring up the Task View interface. Move your mouse over the thumbnail for the desktop you want to close. Click the X button that displays in the upper-right corner of the thumbnail.

NOTE: If you close a desktop that has open programs on it, those programs are transferred to the next desktop to the left of the one you’re closing.


If you’re using a touch screen computer or device, you can access the Task View, or virtual desktops, by swiping in from the left. This feature replaces the old application switcher for both touch and non-touch screen devices.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.