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:
- How to Back Up, Restore Your Documents in Windows 10
- How to Use and Tweak Your Windows 10 Lock Screen
- How to Manage the Start Menu in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update
- How to Try Out Windows 10 for Free for 90 Days
- How to Clean Up Windows 10 With the Refresh Windows Tool