Setting Up Multiple Desktops in Windows 10 - dummies

Setting Up Multiple Desktops in Windows 10

By Andy Rathbone

Windows 10 lets you set up multiple desktops. Some people connect two or more monitors to their computer so that they can double their desktop real estate. These computing enthusiasts can then view a spreadsheet on one monitor, for example, while viewing the other to write a report about the spreadsheet.

To accommodate those on a budget, Windows 10 introduces a way to run several desktops on a single monitor. Called virtual desktops, the desktops can be swapped into view, letting you shift your work from one desktop to another. That can be handy for people with small monitors who want to toggle among several sets of adjacent windows, for example. Instead of juggling windows, they can just switch between desktops.

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

  1. Click the taskbar’s Task View button and then click the words New Desktop.

    A click or tap on the Task View button, shown in the margin, and the screen clears, showing thumbnails of all your open windows. In the upper-right corner, you see the words New Desktop.

    Windows 10 Task View button
    Click the taskbar’s Task View button, and the words New Desktop appear above the taskbar.

    Click the words New Desktop, and a tiny desktop thumbnail immediately appears along the screen’s top edge.

    second dsktop Windows 10
    When the thumbnail of the second desktop appears, switch to it with a click.
  2. Click the thumbnail of the new desktop, and your new desktop fills the screen.

    The thumbnail expands into a new desktop. The new desktop is a replica of your original desktop but without any open programs or windows.

That’s it. You’ve created a second virtual desktop and moved to it. Windows keeps your other desktop tucked away until you want to switch back to it with a return click on the Task View button.

Some people love virtual desktops. Other people find the whole concept needless and confusing. But whether you love or hate virtual desktops, these tips will come in handy:

  • To switch between desktops, click the Task View button. When your miniature virtual desktop windows appear along the screen’s top edge, click the one you want.
  • To see a virtual desktop’s currently open windows, click the Task View button. When the miniature desktops appear along the screen’s top edge, hover your mouse pointer over a miniature desktop; the screen changes to show thumbnails of that desktop’s open windows. To revisit a window on any desktop, just click the window’s thumbnail.
  • To close an unwanted desktop, click the Task View button, and then click the X in that desktop’s thumbnail. (Hover your mouse pointer over the desktop, and the X appears.) Any open windows on that desktop will be dumped onto 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. From the screen that appears, click the plus sign near the screen’s upper-right corner.
  • Keyboard lovers can add a desktop by holding the Windows key and then pressing Ctrl+D. Your current desktop immediately disappears, replaced by a new, empty desktop.
  • To move an open window from one virtual desktop to another, click the Task View button to see the thumbnails of your open virtual desktops. Then drag the desired window down to the desired desktop thumbnail along the screen’s bottom edge. (Right-clicking a desired window fetches a pop-up menu that lists all your virtual desktop options.)

    Keen-eyed observers will notice a sliding bar along the screen’s right edge. Slide the bar up or down to revisit apps and websites you’ve opened in the last 30 days. Known as Timeline, the feature debuted in Spring 2018.