The Windows desktop.

Virtual desktops are a handy way to juggle multiple workspaces in Windows 10. There are several ways to quickly switch between virtual desktops, including several lesser-known keyboard shortcuts—we’ll cover them all below.

Keyboard Shortcuts to Switch Between Virtual Desktops

To quickly switch between virtual desktops in Windows 10 with a keyboard shortcut, press Windows+Ctrl+Left Arrow to switch to a lower-numbered desktop or Windows+Ctrl+Right Arrow for a higher-numbered one. If there’s a virtual desktop established in the “direction” in which you specify with the arrow keys, the workspace will switch instantly to it.

A Virtual Desktop 1 and 2 on Windows 10.

To quickly see the virtual desktops you have available, press Windows+Tab. You’ll then see a screen called “Task View,” which lists the available virtual desktops with thumbnails of each.

The Task View screen on Windows 10.

To use your keyboard to switch between virtual desktops on this screen, press Tab until one of the thumbnails in the top row is highlighted. Then, navigate between them by pressing the arrow keys, followed by Enter. Task View will close, and you’ll see the desktop you chose.

A Windows 10 example desktop.

If you want to add a new virtual desktop via the keyboard, press Windows+Ctrl+D, or just press Windows+Tab to open Task View again. Using Tab and the arrow keys, select “New Desktop,” and then press Enter.

Select "New Desktop" in Task View on Windows 10.

A new virtual desktop will appear. When you’re done managing your desktops, select one and press Enter, or just hit Escape to return to your desktop.

Using the Taskbar to Switch Between Virtual Desktops

If you’d like to quickly switch between virtual desktops via the taskbar, click the Task View button, or press Windows+Tab.

Next, click or tap the desktop to which you want to switch.

The Task View screen on Windows 10.

If you don’t see the Task View button on the taskbar, right-click the taskbar, and then click “Show Task View Button”; it should now have a checkmark next to it.

Once it’s visible, you can click “Task View” at any time to manage your virtual desktops, which definitely comes in handy!

Trackpad Shortcuts to Switch Between Virtual Desktops

By default, Windows 10 reserves several four-fingered touchpad gestures for switching between virtual desktops. To use them, place four fingers on your trackpad at the same time and swipe them in a specific direction. Here’s what they do:

  • Four-fingered swipe up: Open Task View (same as pressing Windows+Tab).
  • Four-fingered swipe left: Switch to a lower-numbered virtual desktop.
  • Four-fingered swipe right: Switch to a higher-numbered virtual desktop.
  • Four-fingered swipe down: Show the current desktop.

If these gestures don’t work, you may have them disabled in Settings. To enable them, click on the Windows button on the taskbar and then select the Gear icon to open the “Settings” menu. Next, navigate to Devices > Touchpad. Scroll down until you see options for “Four-Fingered Gestures.”

In the “Swipes” drop-down menu, select “Switch desktops and show desktop.”

Four-Fingered TouchPad Gestures in Windows 10 that switch Virtual Desktops

Alternatively, you can also assign these functions to three-fingered gestures on the same Touchpad settings screen.

After that, close the Settings window. If your device supports multi-touch trackpad gestures, you can now use these swipe gestures to control virtual desktops.

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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