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How to open an app or file in a new virtual desktop on windows 10

Walter Glenn is a former Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry and over 20 years as a technical writer and editor. He’s written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and edited thousands. He’s authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O’Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He’s also written hundreds of white papers, articles, user manuals, and courseware over the years. Read more.

Windows 10 finally added virtual desktops as a built-in feature. If you keep a lot of apps open at once—or use your PC for very different types of tasks—virtual desktops offer a convenient way to stay organized.

With virtual desktops, Windows 10 lets you create multiple, separate desktops that each can display different open windows and apps. A simple use for this might be keeping work separate from personal stuff. You could also put all the items that relate to a specific task on one desktop, so that you can better focus on that task. While macOS and Linux have featured virtual desktops for a while—and there have been third-party apps that provided them for Windows—virtual desktops are now built into Windows 10.

Add a New Virtual Desktop

Adding a new virtual desktop is easy. On the taskbar, click the “Task View” button. If you don’t see that button, you might have switched it off. Right-click any open space on the taskbar and choose the “Show task view button” option to turn it back on. You can also open the Task View by hitting Windows+Tab on your keyboard.

The Task View is a full screen app switcher that shows all the apps running on your PC. You can switch to any app by just clicking on it. If you’ve never set up an additional virtual desktop before, that’s all that Task View shows. To add a new desktop, click the “New Desktop” button at the bottom right of the screen.

Windows 10 allows you to create as many desktops as you need. We created 200 desktops on our test system just to see if we could, and Windows had no problem with it. That said, we highly recommend you keep virtual desktops to a minimum. After all, you’re creating them to help organize your activities. Having tons of them kind of defeats that purpose.

Switch Between Virtual Desktops

When you have more than one desktop, the Task View shows all your desktops at the bottom of the screen. Hovering over a desktop with your mouse shows you the windows currently open on that desktop.

You can click a desktop to jump there, or click a specific window to jump to that desktop and bring that window into focus. It’s much like switching between apps on a single desktop—you just have them organized into separate virtual workspaces.

You can also switch between virtual desktops just using your keyboard. Press Windows+Tab to bring up Task View and then release the keys. Now, hit Tab again to move the selection to the desktop row. You can then use your arrow keys to move between desktops, and then hit the Enter key to jump to the selected desktop.

Even better, you can switch between virtual desktops without using the Task View at all by just hitting Windows+Ctrl+Left or Right arrow keys. And if you’re using a touch screen device or a precision touchpad, you can move between desktops with a four-fingered swipe.

Work with Windows and Apps on Virtual Desktops

So, now you’ve created a new desktop, and you know how to switch between them. It’s time to populate those desktops with the stuff you need.

First things first: if you switch to a desktop and then open an app or other window there, the window opens—and stays—on that desktop. So, for example, if you switch to “Desktop 3” and open a Chrome window there, that Chrome window remains on Desktop 3 until you close it or move it to another desktop.

This is where things get a little tricky. With apps that let you open multiple windows—like, say, Chrome or Microsoft Word—you can open different windows for those apps on different desktops. Say, for example, you had a desktop devoted to a specific project. You could have Chrome windows, Word docs, and so on open on that desktop, and still have other Chrome windows and Word docs open on other desktops.

But, some apps only allow you to have a single window open at a time. The Windows Store app is a good example of this. Say you opened the Store app on Desktop 3. If you then try to open the Store app on a different desktop, instead of opening there, you’ll jump to the desktop where that app is open.

And unfortunately, Windows doesn’t give you a good way—other than opening up Task View and poking around—to see if an app is open on another desktop. Back to that example where the Store is open on Desktop 3: if I look at the taskbar on Desktop 3, I can see that the Store app is open (it has a line under the icon).

But look at the taskbar on any other desktop, and it looks like the app isn’t running.

You can also move apps and windows between virtual desktops. Hit Windows+Tab to open Task View. Hover your mouse over the virtual desktop containing the window you want to move. You can now drag that window to another virtual desktop.

If you prefer, you can also right-click a window, point to the “Move To” menu, and then select a specific desktop to which you want to move the window—or even create a new desktop and move the window there in one action. This method is handy if know exactly where you want to move the window.

Delete a Virtual Desktop

To delete a virtual desktop, first hit Windows+Tab to open Task View. Click the “Close” button above the desktop you want to remove.

If there are any open apps or windows on the desktop when you close it, they are moved to the desktop immediately to the left of the one you’re closing. Close Desktop 3, for example, and open apps and windows are moved to Desktop 2.

Treat Virtual Desktop as Temporary Workspaces for the Best Experience

Unfortunately, the built-in virtual desktop feature in Windows 10 is still pretty limited compared to that found in other operating systems. You can’t set different wallpapers for different desktops. You can’t set different color schemes, or apply any other types of personalization. Different desktops cannot have different taskbars, or even different icons on the desktop.

There’s also no way to quickly jump to a specific desktop, either—you have to cycle through them with the keyboard commands or use Task View to navigate.

Virtual desktops are maintained after restarting your PC, but that doesn’t really do you too much good. Even if you have apps and windows set to automatically load with Windows, they’ll just open on your main desktop: Desktop 1. You’ll then have to move them to their respective desktops again after each restart. And that’s the part that takes time. Creating the virtual desktops in the first place is quick and easy.

With that in mind, we’ve found that virtual desktops—at least, as they exist in Windows 10—are best treated as temporary workspaces to help you organize your activities while you’re working on them.

And while we’ve talked in the past about third-party virtual desktop apps for Windows that offered more features, we’ve been unable to find any that have been updated to work reliably with Windows 10.

It is really handy to move programs from apps to another virtual desktop on Windows 11 and 10!

1.) . invoking the Task View + new desktop!
2.) . How to move apps between virtual desktops on Windows 11 / 10!
3.) . What should I note when using virtual desktops under Windows 11 / 10!

1.) Calling the Task View + New Desktop!

In Microsoft, start this function from Virtual Desktop by opening the task view with the button in the task bar, or the key combination Windows + Tab . This feature allows users to create different “virtual desktops” to run different sets of applications on separate desktops to keep things organized and not confusing.

By clicking on the appropriate desktop, you can switch directly to the corresponding Windows 11 / 10 desktop. By clicking on the [X] you can also close an existing desktop directly.

(Image-1) Find Windows under Windows 10 Virtual Desktops!

2.) How to move apps between virtual desktops on Windows 11 / 10!

You have two options to move your apps between virtual desktops.

1. Keyboard shortcut Windows + Tab and drag and drop the windows into the appropriate desktop!
( . see picture-2 point 1 and 2 )

2. By right-clicking on the corresponding program you can also move the windows between the individual desktops ( . see picture-3 point 1 and 2 )

Mac and Linux users have been enjoying virtual desktops for years, but it’s a different story in the Windows world. It wasn’t until Windows 10 did Microsoft developers introduce a native ability for power users to have additional desktops. These virtual desktops are fully integrated into the new operating system, letting you multitask and create several workspaces for your personal, professional and other needs. Here’s everything you need to know about virtual desktops in Windows 10.

What is a Virtual Desktop?

You’re probably reading this article on a Windows computer with a single monitor or, if it’s a laptop, a built-in display. That single screen shows the Windows desktop environment. It’s good enough for having a couple of running applications, and you can easily arrange application windows and switch between them in a jiffy. But imagine having a dizzying array of running apps.

One convenient way for organizing or grouping various apps is to use virtual desktops. For instance, you can arrange your applications such that one desktop contains productivity-related apps (Word, Evernote, Dropbox), another desktop houses your sources of entertainment (your music app and games), yet another desktop has your social networks, and so on. Basically, when you’re using virtual desktops, you’re no longer confined to the limitations of a single physical screen in order to organize and navigate apps.

Virtual desktops are similar to virtual machines in that they provide logical workspaces within one system, but they do not consume system resources as much as virtual machines do. Virtual desktops are the practical choice for setups with only one display.

In Windows 10, the virtual desktop functionality is called the Task View.

How to Use Windows 10’s Task View

Your virtual desktop adventure starts with the Task View button that’s sitting on your taskbar. It looks like a square that’s overlapping a horizontal rectangle, and it’s right beside the Cortana search box or button. If the button is not there, right-click an empty area of the taskbar and click Show Task View Button.

When you click the Task View button, you’ll be redirected to the Task View interface. Pressing Windows+Tab (or, if you have a touchscreen, swiping in from the left) also launches the Task View interface. All open application windows on your desktop are displayed here as large thumbnails. Clicking a thumbnail make its corresponding application active.

How to Create and Manage Virtual Desktops

At the bottom of the Task View interface, you can find the New Desktop button. Click it to create a new desktop. Pressing Ctrl+Windows+D also has the same effect. A new desktop should appear in the interface called Desktop 2, whereas your previous or existing desktop is called Desktop 1. There seems to be no limit to the number of desktops you can create. But like browser tabs, having multiple desktops open can slow down your system.

Clicking on a desktop on Task View makes that desktop active. Alternately, press Ctrl+Windows+Left/Right to move between desktops.

To close a virtual desktop, launch Task View, highlight a desktop and click its Close button. Or use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Windows+F4. Any programs you’ve left open are transferred to another desktop, specifically the one to the left of the desktop you’ve just closed.

How to Manage Applications Between Multiple Desktops

Switching Between Applications

To switch between open applications in different desktops, launch Task View, move your cursor to highlight a desktop and click the application’s thumbnail.

Your taskbar and the Alt+Tab task switcher can be configured in relation to virtual desktops. Press Start and click Settings. Select System, and click Multitasking. Check the settings found under Virtual Desktops. One modifies the taskbar such that it shows apps that are running on either all desktops or only the desktop you’re currently using. The other setting determines whether the Alt+Tab preview pane shows only the apps on the desktop you’re currently using or all running apps regardless of the desktops where they’re located.

Transferring an Open Application to Another Desktop

If an app window is open and you’d like to move it to another desktop, launch Task View, highlight the desktop where the app is currently located, and drag-and-drop the app’s thumbnail to another desktop.

Alternately, right-click the app’s thumbnail, select Move To, and choose the desktop to which you want the app’s window to be transferred. You can also drag an app’s thumbnail to the New Desktop button to create a new desktop and automatically transfer the app there.

Arranging Open Windows in a Particular Desktop

Highlight a particular desktop in Task View, right-click a thumbnail, and select either Snap Left or Snap Right. Optionally, click a thumbnail of another app to snap its window to the other half of the screen.

Limitations of the Task View

Some applications do not work well with Task View. For instance, we tested running Microsoft Word 2013 on one desktop and then tried to run another instance of the word processor on another desktop. But instead of staying on this other desktop and opening a new Word window, the screen immediately switched back to the former desktop and showed the open Word window there. Similarly, when we tried opening a locally saved HTML file using Google Chrome on one desktop, the screen switched to another desktop and opened a new Chrome tab there for the HTML file. These quirks do not happen all the time, but they can be quite distracting or disorienting when they occur.

Although it gets the job done, Window 10’s Task View could be better by having more features. At the moment, each desktop has limited customization options. You can’t name the desktops (like “Work” or “Play”) and use custom background images and themes to correspond with their functions. You can’t assign or limit access of files or shortcuts to a particular desktop.

Let’s hope a future update will fix those minor annoyances and introduce extra features.

Got too many apps or windows open on one screen? Organize them with Windows 10’s Virtual Desktops.

Here’s a scenario for Windows users who like to operate in full multitasking mode.

You launch your email and then open a couple of messages. From there you kick off your Web browser and check out a few different websites. Then you remember that Word document you need to finish, so you open up Microsoft Word. Your Word doc ties in with an Excel spreadsheet, so you open Excel. Now you need to scan a paper file to add to your Word doc, so you launch your scanner software. In the meantime, you receive a couple more emails you want to check out.

At this point, though, your screen is cluttered with so many windows and apps that you can’t easily find the ones you need.

Well, you don’t have to work this way, not if you’re using Windows 10, which has a feature called Virtual Desktops. New to Windows 10 but old hat on the Mac, Virtual Desktops let you open and switch among multiple desktops in a single session so you don’t have to struggle with a dozen different windows on a single screen. Let’s give it a whirl.

You start the day in Windows 10 with just your regular desktop. You open your email and read a couple of messages. Now you want to fire up your Web browser, but let’s stick it in a different virtual window. Click on the Task View button (the one to the right of the search bar and the Cortana microphone).

Your existing window displays as a large thumbnail. To open a new virtual desktop, click on the New Desktop button in the lower right corner.

Now you see two thumbnails representing the two virtual desktops. Click on Desktop 2 to switch to it and open your Web browser.

To switch between the two desktops, just click on the Task View button and choose the desktop you want to see.

Now you want to launch Word but in a third desktop. Click on the Task View button and then the New Desktop button and then open Microsoft Word in Desktop 3.

Next it’s time to open Excel, but you want to run Word and Excel in the same virtual desktop to work with them side by side.

Click on the Task View button and then click on Desktop 3. Open Excel. Click on the Task View button again. Make sure Desktop 3 is highlighted. You’ll notice two large thumbnails, one for Excel and one for Word, making it simple to switch between the two by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail.

Another way to display your virtual desktops is via the keyboard by pressing the Windows key + Tab. You can then click on the desktop you want or open a new desktop. You open a fourth desktop and launch your scanning software.

Hmm, now you decide that four virtual desktops is one too many. You want to move your scanning software into the same desktop that holds Word and Excel.

Click on the Task View button again. Click on the large thumbnail for Desktop 4. From the pop-up menu, move your mouse to the “Move to” option and then click on Desktop 3.

Your scanning software joins Word and Excel on Desktop 3. Okay, now there’s nothing running on Desktop 4 so there’s no need to keep it open. Click on the Task View button and then click on the X above Desktop 4 to close it.

Your session at the PC is done, so you can simply shut down Windows and all the virtual desktops will close as well.

For more, check out these other Windows 10 tips:

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Be more productive with just one screen

Windows 10 has a built-in feature enabling users to not only connect two or more computers to one monitor but to also create multiple virtual desktops. Each one will display different applications, programs and windows enabling plenty of multi-tasking.

It’s great for people who want to keep their personal and business apps and data separate, for dedicating space to specific tasks and in organizing groups of related jobs.

This article will explain how to:

  • Create a new virtual desktop.
  • Switch between desktops.
  • Work with apps and windows on virtual desktops.
  • Close virtual desktop windows.
  • Customize multiple desktops.

Create a New Virtual Desktop in Windows 10

  • In your taskbar, look for the Task View button and click on it.
  • In the image above, it is the icon next to the search bar. If you don’t see the Task View button, right-click on any open space on the taskbar and select Show Task View button to turn it on.
  • You can also use the shortcut by holding down the Windows key + Tab.
  • When you open Task View, you will see all the apps running on your computer. Switch to an app by clicking on it.
  • Add a new desktop by clicking the New Desktop button located on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.
  • The task view pane will show all your open programs arranged in rectangles across the screen.

You can create as many virtual desktops in Windows 10 as you want. However, don’t create too many or you may lose control and be unable to keep your activities organized.

Switch Between Desktops

After adding additional desktops, the Task View will show them all at the top of your screen.

Below are several ways to switch from one desktop to another:

  • If you are already on Task View, select the Desktop you want to use by clicking on it.
  • Use your keyboard by pressing the Windows key + Tab. This will bring up the Task View. Click on the desktop you want to use. Move from screen to screen by using the Tab key.
  • To switch between desktops without using the Task View, hold down the Windows and Ctrl keys and click either the left or right arrow key to scroll through the open desktops.
  • Precision touchpads or touch screen device users can move from one desktop to another with the four-fingered swipe.

Work With Apps & Windows On Virtual Desktops

If you have created a new virtual desktop that you don’t want to use, click on the X at the top of the virtual desktop to delete it.

Now that you have created new desktops, how do you populate them with the applications and programs you need?

You can open different programs on every virtual desktop you create in Windows 10. If you open an app or window in one desktop, it will stay open and remain on that desktop. Some apps, such as Microsoft Word or Chrome, will let you open different windows on different desktops.

However, other apps (such as the Windows Store app) will only allow you to use them on one window at a time. For those apps, if you have it running on Desktop 1 and try to open it in Desktop 2, you will be jumped back to Desktop 1 where the app is running.

This can be inconvenient. Your only option is to look at your Task View to find where the app was installed.

You can move an open window from one desktop to another by following the steps below:

  • Navigate to the desktop where the window is open.
  • Click the Task View button or use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + Tab.
  • Right-click on the window you want to move.
  • Choose the Move to option.
  • This will open a list of all the desktops on your computer.
  • Select the desktop where you want to move the window, and it will be moved.

Close Virtual Desktop Windows

Having several virtual desktops on your Windows 10 computer is very helpful. However, depending upon your hardware and how many you have open at once, your system’s performance could be negatively affected.

Use the shortcut Windows key + Ctrl + F4 to close a virtual desktop. Repeat the shortcut to close more or all of the remaining desktops.

Customize Multiple Desktops

To manage the view of a virtual desktop, right-click on any open window.

If you want to affix a desktop to the left or right-hand side of your screen, you can use snap options from Snap Assist to organize your screens with two windows side-by-side.

  • Use the keyboard shortcut by holding down the Windows Key and pressing either the left or right arrow key.
  • Snap Assist will move the active window to the direction you choose.
  • The other half of the screen will show all your other open windows.
  • Click on the window you want on the other side of your screen.

Use multiple virtual desktops as temporary workspaces in Windows 10 to stay productive and organized. For example, rather than switching between PowerPoint, a browser, and a music app, putting them on different desktops makes it easier to move between them. You also don’t have to minimize and maximize each program while you use another.

David has a background in small business and lives in Australia. He is a WordPress and Ubuntu Developer who enjoys design, CSS and tech tool integration. Read David’s Full Bio

I have 3 different Windows 10 virtual desktops. When the computer starts up, I want python to load all of my applications in the different virtual desktops.

Right now I can only start things in Desktop 1. How do I tell python to launch an app but in Desktop 2 and 3?

I’m using python 3.6.

2 Answers 2

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How do I tell python to launch an app but in Desktop 2 and 3?

This can be achieved by launching your applications with subprocess.Popen() , then changing virtual desktop by calling GoToDesktopNumber() from VirtualDesktopAccessor.dll with the help of ctypes , and launching your applications again. Tested with 64-bit Windows 10 Version 10.0.18363.720.

VirtualDesktopAccessor.dll by Jari Pennanen exports the functions a part of the mostly undocumented (by Microsoft) Virtual Desktop API. Put the dll in the current working directory.

The time.sleep() calls are needed because Windows doesn’t change virtual desktops instantly (presumably because of animations), and to give the processes time to create windows. You might need to tweak the timings.

Note that some applications only allow one instance/process, so you can’t get multiple separate windows for each virtual desktop (e.g. Adobe Reader with default settings).

Another strategy I tried was launching the applications, sleeping for a bit to allow the windows to be created, then calling MoveWindowToDesktopNumber() to move every window created by the new processes to different virtual desktops. The problem with that is, for applications like Chrome or Firefox, the new process is immediately closed if an existing process already exists, so it doesn’t move the new windows (which actually belong to another, older process) to another desktop.

Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She’s been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business. Read more.

The ability to have multiple desktops was missing for a long time in Windows, until Windows 10 finally added it. We’ve covered how to use virtual desktops in Windows 10, but there’s at least one missing feature that we’ll show you how to add.

Virtual desktops allow you to separate your open programs into categories, such as for work, gaming, checking social media, or web surfing. However, once you have several virtual desktops set up, there is no indication anywhere showing which desktop is currently active. VirtualDesktopManager is a small Windows program that adds an icon to the system tray that indicates which virtual desktop you are currently on, as well as some other useful features.

Download VirtualDesktopManager from the Releases page and extract the zip file wherever you choose–the program is portable, so it does not need to be installed. Simply double-click on the VirtualManagerDesktop.exe file to run the program.

The VirtualDesktopManager icon is added to the system tray and shows you the number of the currently active virtual desktop (even if you only have one desktop). If you want to see the current desktop number at a glance, you can move the VirtualDesktopManager icon from the system tray to the Taskbar, so you don’t have to open the system tray to see it.

The default hotkeys for switching desktops in Microsoft’s Virtual Desktops are Ctrl+Win+Left and Ctrl+Win+Right. You can still use these hotkey after installing VirtualDesktopManager, but you won’t get the full benefit of the program.

By default, VirtualDesktopManager uses Ctrl+Alt+Left and Ctrl+Alt+Right instead. However, if you have an Intel chip in your PC, there’s a good possibility this won’t work, because that hotkey is assigned to an Intel utility. VirtualDesktopManager will let you know if their default hotkey cannot be set with a notification that displays when you run VirtualDesktopManager. There is an alternate hotkey and we’ll show you how to switch to this.

To change the hotkey used in VirtualDesktopManager, right-click on the icon in the system tray or on the Taskbar and select “Settings” from the popup menu.

On the Settings dialog box, select the “Use alternate key combination (Shift+Alt+Left/Right)” checkbox. Then, click “Save”. Note that when you click Save, it will seem like nothing happens, but the change will indeed be saved. To close the dialog box, click the “X” in the upper-right corner.

A notification displays telling you that VirtualDesktopManager is still running and how to exit the program, if you choose to.

There are some limitations of VirtualDesktopManager. You will notice one of these limitations when you try to switch among the desktops too quickly. This causes program windows on different desktops to try to gain focus and you will see them on the Taskbar even if you’re not currently on that desktop. The icons for programs trying to gain focus turn a blinking orange. When you click on one of those icons, you will be automatically switched to that program and to the desktop containing that program.

The author of the program also says that VirtualDesktopManager needs more testing to see how well it behaves if you suspend or hibernate your PC. One more thing to note is that if explorer.exe crashes and has to be restarted, you will also have to restart VirtualDesktopManager.

VirtualDesktopManager may have a few limitations, but, in addition to displaying the current desktop number, it adds another very useful feature: the ability to cycle through all your desktops. For example, say you have ten virtual desktops. You’re currently on desktop #10 and you want to go to desktop #1. Instead of pressing Shift+Alt+Left nine times, you can use Shift+Alt+Right to go directly from desktop #10 to desktop #1.

In Windows, the virtual desktop feature has been ignored for long enough, for either of two reasons: only a few people know about it or because it only became a standard feature in the Windows 10 iteration.

A virtual desktop is another “desktop” where you can have other applications running. It’s like having a second instance of the operating system running on the same PC.

Why You Need the Virtual Desktop Windows Feature

The answer is productivity.

Having many tabs/windows open means you can only work on one program at a time. This feature impacts how you can move from one activity to the next.

Think about a web designer, for instance. For a simple project, he needs to have an Explorer tab, a photo editor, an IDE and a web browser all active. Imagine the stress of having to switch between all these programs.

With virtual desktop windows, he only needs to switch from one desktop to another. Say goodbye to the hassle of maximizing and minimizing programs.

This feature is even more far-reaching for laptop users, as they cannot move around with many monitors.

If you want to know how to use this feature on your Windows PC, keep reading.

Set Up the Virtual Desktop on Windows 10

1. Click on the Start button, and then on “Settings.”

2. Select the “Search bar.”

3. Input the keyword virtual in the search bar. Choose “Customize virtual desktop settings.”

4. Set the virtual desktop to show windows that are open on only the active desktop. Set the same for the Alt + TAB option. Exit Settings after that.

Set Up Task View Button on Your Taskbar

If you already have the task view button enabled, skip this step.

  • Right-click on any section of your taskbar. It will pop out some options.
  • Select the “Show task view button” option.

An icon should appear on your windows taskbar. Check beside the Search button or Cortana (if you have it activated).

Create a New Desktop

Click on the task view button. It will show all your open programs arranged in rectangles across the screen. This screen is the task view pane. You can also use the Windows shortcut Win + TAB .

At the bottom-right corner of this screen, you will see a “New desktop” icon. Click on it.

Or you can use the keyboard shortcut Win + Ctrl + D to create a new desktop.

You should see a new empty desktop appear beside your primary desktop.

Switching Between Your Desktops

To see your desktops, you can click the Windows task view button or use the ALT + TAB keyboard shortcut.

There are two arrow keys that you can use to scroll through the open desktops. Note that Windows arranges the desktops serially. This means you cannot jump desktops while switching.

You can also use the Windows keyboard shortcut Win + Ctrl + Right Arrow or Win + Ctrl + Left Arrow to scroll through the open desktops.

Move Windows from One Desktop to Another

You may want to move windows from one open desktop to another one. There’s a provision for this.

  • Go to the desktop where the window/program you need is open.
  • Click the task view button or use the keyboard shortcut Win + TAB.
  • Right-click on the program you need to move. Some options will come up. Select the “Move to” option. A list of the open desktops will show up. Choose the desired desktop, and Windows will move it for you.

How to Close Virtual Desktop Windows

Note that closing the virtual desktop windows closes the open programs on them too, so only shut them after you finish working with them.

  • Go to the task view pane using the Win + TAB shortcut or task view button.
  • Hover over the desktop you need to close and end it like you would every other program.

Wrapping Up

The virtual desktop windows feature is one of the best additions to the Windows OS. So far, it seems you can have an infinite number of virtual desktops open. At last count, there were more than 250 virtual desktops open on the test machine. Also, you can create your custom windows shortcuts for various actions. If you want to improve your productivity, this feature has your back.

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We know there’s a vocal set of people who just love virtual desktops. Having desktops beyond the limitations of a physical display is a powerful way to organize and quickly access groups of windows. Virtual desktops aren’t new. In fact, Xerox PARC created one of the earliest virtual desktop experiences called Rooms back in the 1980s and subsequently made a version available for Windows 3.x. Microsoft offered the Virtual Desktop Manager as part of the Windows XP PowerToys and a little while later released the Sysinternals Desktops add-on which enabled similar functionality. Many other OSes and third-party utilities have also embraced the power of virtual desktops. Given the growing popularity of this organizational tool, we decided to build a native virtual desktop experience directly into Windows 10.

Goals

When our team set out to build virtual desktops into Windows 10 we first took the time to understand how different people approach organization. For instance, we know that there are “filers” who like to separate things into subsets and then there are “pilers” who prefer to tackle tasks in a single group. We see this regularly with the way people handle email and directory structures for files. The same approaches also apply to open windows on a desktop. For those of you who like to organize your windows, we want to make sure that we offer the right experience to create and manage these groups. Here are some high-level goals we identified:

  1. Give you more desktop space to group related windows
  2. Help you quickly locate and switch to any window or group of windows
  3. Let you easily re-organize your groups and move windows as tasks evolve
  4. Keep you in control of the degree of separation between your grouped windows

Design

To add a new desktop simply click the task view button on your taskbar and click the “new desktop” button. Just like how you can run as many application windows as you like, there’s also no limit to how many desktops you can create. I like to run my work email and Office apps on the first desktop and open my personal browsing on my second desktop. You may find the need to have more desktops…the possibilities are endless.

Add as many desktops as you need

Task view is also where you can go to switch between desktops. The top part of this view shows previews of the windows you have open, just like Alt+Tab. However, task view also is able to filter this list when you create virtual desktops, so only the relevant windows appear. Under that you will find the list of desktops you have open. The labels along with accurate previews make it easy to find what you want to switch to. However, what if you’re trying to find that music player and you forgot which desktop you had it on? With hover preview it really is a breeze. Just hover over each desktop preview and Windows will let you peek into any desktop to see what windows are open there. That’s right, no need to switch to one desktop at a time to search for the window you’re looking for! You can even click on the app preview from task view to bring that window straight to the top.

Hover on a desktop to peek what’s in it

We know from time to time you may want to re-organize which windows go on which desktop. Of all the virtual desktop feedback provided by Windows Insiders since the January Tech Preview (build 9926), over 63% of requests were in regards to making it easier to move windows across desktops. We heard you loud and clear! We decided to expedite drag-and-drop support in our schedule so that we could provide Insiders with the feature sooner. You can now drag any window into the desktop you want to move it to right from task view. You can even drag a thumbnail to the “new desktop” button to create and move it to a new desktop in one step.

Drag and drop a window to move it to another desktop

For the keyboard inclined users, you’ll appreciate some of these shortcut combos to accelerate your virtual desktop experience.

  • WIN + CTRL + LEFT/RIGHT: Switch to previous or next desktop
  • WIN + CTRL + D: Create a new desktop
  • WIN + CTRL + F4: Close the current desktop
  • WIN + TAB: Launch task view

Make your voice count!

One of the most divided opinions about virtual desktops is what windows are represented on the taskbar. On one side, some users want stronger separation between desktops and expect to see open windows that are only on the current desktop. On the flip side, other users expect the taskbar to always give them access to all their open windows no matter where they are. We are convinced both options are valid so we made it a user setting (actually one for the taskbar and another for Alt+Tab). The hard part is choosing which one is the default so we think the only option is to let you decide. In the most recent flight we are A/B testing the taskbar behavior with the Insiders. If you get a notification asking how you like the taskbar behavior when using virtual desktops, be sure to let us know. Your votes play a direct role in helping us decide! We’re eager to see the results.

We’re glad you’re coming on this journey with us to embed the power of virtual desktops natively in Windows 10. We love the thoughtful input you sent us through the feedback channel and we look forward to your continued thoughts. Over the course of the upcoming flights you can also expect polish and reliability updates to virtual desktops in anticipation of our summer release.

Have questions or comments about Virtual Desktops? Head over to the Windows Insider Program forums.

Windows 10 brings a lot of great features to the PC, but one that power users are greeting with an exasperated “finally” is virtual desktops.

This longstanding productivity powerhouse has long been standard on OS X and Linux distributions. Windows has actually supported the feature for a while despite not making virtual desktops available natively, but now the feature is going mainstream as part of Windows 10.

But virtual desktops are not a stand-alone feature. Instead, they’re built into Windows 10’s new Task View, which is reminiscent of OS X’s Exposé feature that shows all your open windows at a glance.

Windows has had something similar for years—you’ve seen it if you’ve ever used the keyboard shortcut Alt + Tab to cycle through open programs. But the Alt + Tab feature disappears as soon as you let go of the keyboard. Task View takes a different approach by showing all your open windows in a permanent view that doesn’t disappear until you dismiss it or pick a window to be in the foreground.

Starting with the taskbar

Task View in Windows 10.

The simplest way to get to Task View and multiple desktops is to click the new icon next to the Cortana entry box on your taskbar. We’ll start with that, but let me stress this is neither the easiest nor the most efficient way to use the new feature. For that, you’ll need to learn a few keyboard shortcuts, which we’ll discuss shortly.

But first let’s click on the new Task View icon. As you can see above, it shows all my open windows so I can quickly return to a specific program or document. This is an extremely helpful feature for those times when you have tons of windows open at once.

Quick note to multi-monitor users: Task View will only show what you’ve got on a specific monitor. When you hit the icon, Task View is displayed across all your monitors to help you find what you’re looking for, but don’t expect to see all your open windows on one display. If you’re running a full screen video on a specific monitor, then you won’t see Task View on that monitor at all.

Task View and Snap

Task View works with Snap to make life easier.

Windows 10 still supports Snap, a fantastic feature that lets you set a window to take up half your screen. Windows 10 has also bumped up this functionality with a new feature called Quadrants that lets you snap programs into a four-rectangle grid on your display.

To use Snap, hit the Windows logo key and then one of the side arrow keys. The two side keys snap a window to the corresponding half of your display. If you then use the up or down keys, Quadrants activates and snaps the window to the upper or bottom half of that side.

So why am I talking about this? Because to make Task View more beneficial, it automatically shows up on the empty half of the screen whenever you use Snap with multiple apps open. So instead of having to set manually two separate windows, you just snap one window and then Task View lets you pick the next one to fill in the blank space.

Things aren’t so easy with Quadrants, however. With that layout you have to fill in three windows first before you’ll see Task View fill in the fourth.

Virtual desktops

Virtual desktops are a fantastic way to stay organized.

You could, for example, create three virtual desktops. On the first, you put your current work project in Microsoft Excel, Word, Adobe Photoshop…whatever. The second desktop is where you keep all your communication and daily planning stuff, such as calendar, email, and Skype. Then the third can be for your music player, or distractions for those quick five minute breaks—like YouTube or a game.

Windows 10 lets you use a seemingly unlimited number of virtual desktops, but if you’ve ever used OS X or Linux, don’t expect Microsoft’s take to work the same way. On non-Windows systems, you’re typically given at least the impression that those desktops are always there. With Windows, you have to actively create a new desktop, which can take a few seconds the first time you do it.

To create a new virtual desktop open Task View.

To create a new desktop, click on the Task View icon on the taskbar, and then—with the Task View interface open—click the text link that says “+ New Desktop” in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Windows 10 with two active virtual desktops.

Hit that, and a new desktop appears at the bottom of the Task View. To navigate between them you can choose between Desktop 1 and Desktop 2. From Task View, you can also drag-and-drop open program windows from the current desktop into a different one, or onto the “+ New Desktop” link to create a new virtual desktop housing the software.

By default, each virtual desktop shows only the active programs and windows for that particular desktop. If you’d rather know what programs you have open regardless of the desktop you’re on, you change this by opening the Settings app in the Start menu and going to System > Multitasking > Virtual desktops.

Keyboard shortcuts

Those are the basics of Task View and virtual desktops, but to get really proficient with these features it’s better to forget the mouse and use keyboard shortcuts instead. Jumping into Task View is as simple as hitting the Windows logo key + Tab.

To create a new virtual desktop, hit the Windows logo key + Ctrl + D. To close the current desktop you’re on, it’s Windows logo key + Ctrl + F4.

Unlike OS X or Linux, which use grid layouts, Windows 10 organizes virtual desktops in a straight line. To shift between the desktops, use the Windows logo key + Ctrl and the left or right arrow keys.

New desktops are always created on the right side of the line. Once you navigate to the last desktop, you can’t hit the right arrow key to loop around to first one. Instead, you have to navigate backwards using the left arrow key.

Just a quick note about the virtual desktop navigation shortcut: It’s very easy to forget what you’re doing and hit Ctrl + Alt and the arrow keys instead of the Windows logo key + Ctrl. If you do that, which I’ve already done many times, you’ll change the orientation of your display.

In other words, your desktop may suddenly move to portrait mode. If that happens, just hit Ctrl + Alt + the up arrow key to return to regular landscape mode.

That’s about all there is to Task View and virtual desktops. Enjoy the extra desktop space and improved efficiency, and be sure to check out PCWorld’s mammoth list of Windows 10 tips and tricks for more nifty tweaks.

Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. 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. Read more.

If you often use virtual desktops in Windows 10 to manage your workspaces, you might find that keeping track of windows between them can sometimes be a hassle. Luckily, Windows makes it easy to move windows between virtual desktops. Here’s how.

How to Drag and Drop Windows Between Virtual Desktops

Using your mouse or a touchscreen, you can easily drag windows between virtual desktops using the Task View sceen. To open “Task View,” click the “Task View” button on your taskbar or press Windows+Tab.

(If you don’t see a “Task View” button on the taskbar, right-click the taskbar and select “Show Task View button.”)

Using the row of virtual desktop thumbnails across the top of the the Task View screen, click the desktop that contains the window you’d like to move.

After clicking, the virtual desktop you selected will appear. Activate “Task View” again, then drag the thumbnail of the window you’d like to move onto the thumbnail of the virtual desktop you’d like to move it to.

As you move it over the destination desktop, the thumbnail will reduce in size.

Once the window thumbnail is over the virtual desktop destination thumbnail, release the mouse button, and the window will be moved to that desktop.

After that, you’re free to switch to whichever virtual desktop you like by clicking it or simply pressing “Escape” to close Task View.

How to Move Windows Between Virtual Desktops by Right-Clicking

You can also move windows between virtual desktops by using a pop-up menu that appears in Task View. First, open “Task View” and focus on the desktop that includes the window you’d like to move. In Task View, right-click on the window’s thumbnail and select “Move To,” then pick the destination desktop from the list.

After that, the window will appear on the virtual desktop you selected. You can also make the window appear on all virtual desktops at once if you right click on its thumbnail in Task View and select “Show this window on all desktops.” Very handy!

Unfortunately, Windows 10 does not include a keyboard shortcut for moving windows between virtual desktops.

Windows 10 includes many new features, including long awaited ones like Virtual Desktops. While a bit limited, here’s how to use them and what to expect.

Windows 10 includes several new features, including long-awaited ones like Virtual Desktops. While the feature is still relatively limited, it’s definitely welcomed, and here’s a look at how to use them in the recent technical preview build 9926.

Add a Virtual Desktop in Windows 10

Note: If you are on Windows 11 take a look at how to use Virtual Desktops on Windows 11.

Adding another desktop is easy. You can do it by clicking the Task View button on the taskbar next to the Search and Start menu, or use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + Tab and select Add a Desktop as shown below. Or you can add one without pulling up the Task View pane by using Windows Key + Ctrl + D.

Switch Between Desktops

There’s a couple of ways to switch between multiple desktops. You can either use the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + Ctrl and the Left or Right arrow key depending on where you want to go. Or with your mouse by clicking the Task View button and then which desktop you want to use.

Move Windows Between Desktops

When working between multiple desktops, sometimes you’ll want to move open windows from one to another, and it’s easy to do. Use the Task View pane to display each desktop you created, and then hover the mouse over the desktop with the screen you want to move. Then right-click the window you want to move, and in the menu that pops up, select Move to and then the desktop you want to move it to.

For example, I am moving the News app from my first virtual desktop to the third in the shot below.

Close a Desktop

Closing a virtual desktop is straightforward. Just bring up the Task View pane and then close the one you don’t need anymore. You can also close the current desktop you’re working in without pulling up the Task View pane by hitting Windows Key + Ctrl + F4. But it’s worth noting that I could only get that key combo to work on one of my Windows 10 computers – remember, we’re still in beta, folks.

Also, note that if you close a desktop with open apps on it, they will be transferred over to the desktop to the left of the one you close.

I would assume that more features will be added in upcoming tech preview builds, so it’s more of a robust feature like in Linux. For instance, features I’d like to see are the ability to drag programs between desktops, change wallpapers for each desktop, or jump to a specific desktop without having to cycle through them all.

It’s nice to see that Microsoft finally added virtual desktops. With separate desktops, it’s easier to manage different projects without having your screen cluttered with open apps – especially if you’re not using a multiple monitor setup.

Remember that we’ll be covering new features as they’re added to Windows 10, and if you want to discuss the latest Windows 10 happenings, check out our Windows 10 Forum.

Applies to:

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 11

Application Virtualization will be end of life in April 2026. We recommend looking at Azure Virtual Desktop with MSIX app attach. For more information, see What is Azure Virtual Desktop? and Set up MSIX app attach with the Azure portal.

Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) for Windows delivers Win32 applications to users as virtual applications. Virtual applications are installed on centrally managed servers and delivered to users as a service in real time and on an as-needed basis. Users launch virtual applications from familiar access points and interact with them as if they were installed locally.

Starting with Windows 10 version 1607, App-V is included with the Windows 10 for Enterprise edition. If you’re new to Windows client and App-V, you’ll need to download, activate, and install server- and client-side components to start delivering virtual applications to users. To learn what you need to know before getting started with App-V, see the Application Virtualization (App-V) overview.

If you’re already using App-V, performing an in-place upgrade to Windows 10/11 on user devices automatically installs the App-V client and migrates users’ App-V applications and settings. For more information about how to configure an existing App-V installation after upgrading user devices to Windows 10/11, see Upgrading to App-V for Windows from an existing installation.

You can upgrade your existing App-V installation to App-V for Windows from App-V versions 5.0 SP2 and higher only. If you are using an earlier version of App-V, you’ll need to upgrade your existing App-V installation to App-V 5.0 SP2 before upgrading to App-V for Windows.

To learn more about previous versions of App-V, see MDOP information experience.

Getting started with App-V for Windows (new installations)

To start using App-V to deliver virtual applications to users, you’ll need to download, enable, and install server- and client-side components. The following table describes the App-V for Windows client components, what they do, and where to find them.

If you have a Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscription, use the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscriptions site to download the MDOP ISO package.

For more information about these components, see High Level Architecture for App-V.

If you’re new to App-V, it’s a good idea to read the documentation thoroughly. Before deploying App-V in a production environment, you can ensure installation goes smoothly by validating your deployment plan in a test network environment. You might also consider taking a class about relevant technologies. To get started, see the Microsoft Training Overview.

Getting started with App-V

What’s new in App-V provides a high-level overview of App-V and how it can be used in your organization?

Evaluating App-V provides information about how you can best evaluate App-V for use in your organization.

High Level Architecture for App-V provides a description of the App-V features and how they work together.