How to Setup and Manage Virtual Desktops in Windows 10

Last Updated by Unyime Etim on Sept. 13, 2020, 10 p.m.

Are you a fan of everything virtual? Do you like to keep your desktop nice, clean, and tidy? Then this post is for you! In about a thousand words, this guide aims to get you comfortable with making full use of the virtual desktop feature of your Windows 10. It'll also answer your frequently asked questions on creating, working with and closing down the virtual desktops on your computer, alongside some of the best free virtual desktop managers available on the internet.

What are Virtual Desktops?

A Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on the cloud. It is a computer that runs completely in the cloud but features everything you would get from a normal device purchased from your favorite retailer.

Just like the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enables you to operate a phone number over the internet, a virtual desktop gives you the freedom to operate a traditional computer in the same way. 

Virtual Desktop on Windows 10

Microsoft, while relatively new to the game,  has implemented a limited version of this feature from within the Windows 10 OS through a system known as the task view. This system allows you to expand the virtual space of your computer’s desktop environment beyond the physical limits of your screens’ display area.

For those wondering why you need the virtual desktop your OS has to offer, using this feature on your Windows 10 device allows you to expand the device capability beyond the physical limitations of its size, and seamlessly organize your desktops into groups of different tasks. With Windows 10 virtual desktop, you can keep your work, play, multimedia, etc separate, which is a great way to ensure increased productivity.

Ready to take the plunge? Read down to get the Windows 10 virtual desktop tips you need to take your productivity to the next level.

Read also: How to Prevent a Ransomware Attack (11 actionable tips)

Windows 10 Virtual Desktop Tips

How to Create a Virtual Desktop in Windows 10?

Thankfully, getting your computer set up is quite a simple task. To create a virtual desktop in your Windows 10 device, just follow the simple steps below to get started.

Step 1: Go to your taskbar and click on the task view icon.

Task view

If you can't find the icon on your taskbar, right-click the taskbar and select the show task view.

Step 2: After clicking on the task view icon, you'll be presented with a task view window that shows all the apps currently running on your desktop. Here you can switch to any app of your choice by clicking on it.

How to create a virtual desktop in windows 10

To create a new virtual desktop, click the + New desktop button on the upper left corner of your screen.

How to Switch Between Virtual Desktops in Windows 10

There is no limit to the number of desktops you can create from your task view, so you are very free to create as many as you need. To navigate to any desktop of your choice, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Open your task view.

Step 2: On your task view window, you'll see all the desktops you've created. To switch desktops, just navigate to any of your choices and click on it.

Switch between virtual desktops in windows 10

How to Duplicate Windows across Virtual Desktops in Windows 10

Do you need to have one app on all the virtual desktops? You can easily use the duplicate feature.

Step 1: Open the task view.

Step 2: Go to the desktop you want and right-click the particular app you need to duplicate.

Windows 10 virtual desktop

Step 3: From the dialog box that will appear, select "show this window on all desktops" if you want to duplicate the app across all desktops.

Step 4: You can also select "Show windows from this app on all desktops" if you want to duplicate all the apps in the particular desktop to all desktops.

How to Move Windows between Virtual Desktops in Windows 10

In addition to replicating windows across all desktops, the task view also makes it possible for you to move a specific window to a specific virtual desktop. You can do that by:

Step 1: Click on the task view icon to open the task view.

Step 2: Navigate to any desktop of your choice and right-click the desktop you want to move.

windows 10 virtual desktop

Step 3: Navigate the mouse to "move to" and you'll be presented with a list of available desktops to choose from.

Step 4: Select any of the desktops to move your window.

How to Remove a Virtual Desktop in Windows 10

Whenever you are done with your tasks, you can remove the apps and virtual desktops of your choice by going through the steps below:

Step 1: Click on the task view icon to open the task view.

Step 2: Navigate to the desktop or app you need to close and click the X icon found at the top-right corner of it.

windows 10 virtual desktop

Windows 10 Virtual Desktop Shortcuts

Windows 10 virtual desktop shortcuts

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If you are more of a shortcut fan, the Windows virtual desktop comes with its own set of shortcuts that'll make your work much easier. I have listed below some of the most popular ones you are going to need. 

  • Windows key + Tab: This shortcut opens the Task View.
  • Windows Key + Ctrl + D: This shortcut creates a new desktop.

  • Alt + Tab: This shortcut shows all the current applications on a particular desktop. Clicking Tab while holding Alt allows you to move between them.

  • Windows key + Ctrl + Left or Windows key + Ctrl + Right: This shortcut allows you to move quickly between multiple desktops.

  • Windows Key + Ctrl + F4: This shortcut closes the desktop you are currently on.

Windows 10 Virtual Desktop Manager

Like I explained earlier in this guide, the Windows 10 virtual desktop is very much limited in features. This includes your inability to set the different desktops to use separate wallpapers, icons, taskbar, etc.

However, thanks to some third-party software, you can now get a feel of some of the features you should get in a proper virtual desktop.

Below are a few of the virtual desktop managers that I found to be free, feature-rich and of most value to Windows 10 users.

  1. Dexpot: This is very easy to use virtual desktop software for you to improve your productivity with. Perhaps the most widely used, Dexpot is packed with enough features for free software, has minimal impact on computer performance, and is free for private use. Head over to this page to download and try it out.

  2. VirtualWin: VirtualWin is another popular open-source virtual desktop manager for Windows 10 users. It is designed to be simple to use yet still very configurable and extensible. You can download the app on this page to check it out.

  3. Virtual Dimension: Perhaps the best for the last? Virtual Dimension is a free, fast and fully-featured virtual desktop manager for Windows 10 users. According to their website, the main goal of the open-source project is indeed to enhance the Microsoft "Window Manager" up to the level of usual Unix Window Manager. Head over to their download page to download and check out the app.

Finally

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If you have any questions, tips, comments or contributions, use the comment form below. I'd very much like to hear from you. Also, which of the virtual desktop managers are you going to try out? Let me know in the comment section.

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