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How to use multiple desktops in Windows 10

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Unfortunately, one of the most useful but underused features in Windows 10 goes by the same name as another, and perhaps more popular technology: the virtual desktop. The most common use of this term refers to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which is used to display a virtual machine (VM) to a remote VDI client. With the other technology of the same name, you can expand your physical monitor to a virtual monitor; In this article, I will refer to this setup as multiple desktops.

I like to think of multiple desks as hidden desks on the side of a physical monitor that can be attached to the physical monitor when needed. For example, you can set up one desktop to work on a presentation, another for your general work, another for connecting to remote systems, and another for documents. Alternatively, you can set up different desktops for different projects. For example, if you perform concerts or have a part-time job, you can set up different desks for different clients.

To create virtual desktops and work between them, follow these steps:

  • Click the Task View button on the taskbar and then click the words Add a desktop.
  • One click or tap on the Task View button, shown here, and the screen clears, showing thumbnails of all your open windows. In the lower right corner, shown here, you will see the words Add a desktop.
  • Click on the words Add a desktop and a small desktop thumbnail will immediately appear along the bottom edge of the screen.
  • Click on the thumbnail of the new desktop and your second desktop will fill the screen.

That is all. You have created a second virtual desktop and moved it. Windows keeps your other desktop hidden until you want to use it again.

Some people love virtual desktops. Other people find the whole concept unnecessary and confusing. If your emotions lean more towards a love of virtual desktops, these tips will help:

  • To switch between desktops, click the Task View button. When your virtual desktop thumbnail windows appear, click the one you want.
  • To view the currently open windows of a virtual desktop, click the Task View button. When the miniature desktops appear along the bottom edge of the screen, place the mouse pointer over a miniature desktop; the screen changes to show thumbnails of the open windows on that desktop. To revisit a window on any desktop, simply click on the window’s thumbnail.
  • To close an unwanted desktop, click the Task View button and then click the X on that desktop’s thumbnail. Any open windows on that desktop will be downloaded to your original “real” desktop. That’s important – you won’t lose any unsaved work by accidentally closing a virtual desktop.
  • To create even more virtual desktops, click the Task View button. When the screen shown above appears, click the plus icon in the lower right corner of the screen.
  • Keyboard lovers can add a desktop by holding down the Windows key and then pressing Ctrl + D. Your current desktop immediately disappears, replaced by a new, empty desktop. (Pressing Windows key + Tab opens Task View mode, allowing you to see all open windows, as well as any virtual desktop.)
  • To move an open window from one virtual desktop to another, press the Task View button to see the thumbnails of your open desktops. Right-click on the desired window in one of the desktop thumbnails, and then choose the desired desktop number from the pop-up menu. (Desktops are numbered in the order you created them.)

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James Hogan
James Hogan
James Hogan is a senior staff writer at Bollyinside, where he has been covering various topics, including laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more. During that period, they evaluated hundreds of laptops and thousands of accessories and built a collection of entirely too many mechanical keyboards for their own use.

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