Multiple desktops in Windows are one of the most productive but underused features. Improve your multitasking on a laptop / PC by rearranging all open applications on separate but connected virtual desktops. The feature is now available in Windows 10 and has been further improved in Windows 11. Let’s examine how to set up multiple desktops and use them to maximize the functionality and productivity of your device.
What Are Multiple Desktops in Windows?
Multiple desktops are virtual desktops that are divided into many individual workspaces or “desks.” You can create separate desktops for the applications of your choice. In Windows 10, the multi-desktop feature can be launched via the little “Task View” icon next to the start menu.
The Task View icon in Windows 11 looks very different from Windows 10 due to a grayish color scheme. The similarities don’t end there, as some additional features have been integrated into Windows 11 Task View. Leave Task View turned on by going to Personalization> Taskbar> Taskbar Items> Task View for Multiple Desktops. .
In Windows 10 and 11, you can use the Win + Tab shortcut to launch Task View and access multiple desktops. This allows you to run multiple independent projects and applications in separate areas.
How to Use Multiple Desktops in Windows 10
You can display all the multiple desktops created in the task view in Windows 10 or by using an available keyboard shortcut. You can create a new desktop with the “+” symbol and rename all the desktops as you like. New virtual desktops can be created at any time by pressing Win + Ctrl + D. To open an open desktop, simply click on it and you will be greeted by a separate desktop with your own applications.
You can close any open desktop with the “X” symbol or by pressing Win + Ctrl + F4. The shortcut is useful to remember in some of the use cases described later in this tutorial.
Pro Tip: When you close a desktop, all your open applications are migrated to the desktop on the left.
Better to rename desktops based on task or purpose. You can use names like “home”, “work” or “entertainment”. In Windows 10, you cannot change the background of individual desktops because they all have a common background image. This is something you will find in Windows 11.
To navigate from one desktop to another, it is very useful to remember the keyboard shortcut: Win + Ctrl + left or right arrow key. Use the right arrow key to move a desktop to the right. In the reverse scenario, use the left arrow key. This shortcut allows you to move horizontally across the desks.
How to Use Multiple Desktops in Windows 11
In Windows 11, when you click the Task View icon, you will see the available desktops. The same keyboard shortcuts work here as in Windows 10, with Win + Ctrl + D creating a new desktop. You can also close any open desktop with the “X” symbol or by pressing Win + Ctrl + F4. With Win + Ctrl + left or right arrow key you can switch between multiple desktops.
If you use multiple desktops in Windows 11, there are additional features available. You can change the background of each desktop to match your wallpaper, which separates the different desktops from each other and makes them clearly visible for quick access. You can also freely move the desks left and right.
For navigation, you can switch between multiple desktop windows with Win + Ctrl + left or right arrow keys.
Use Cases for Multiple Desktops
While several desktops in Windows are an optional feature, it is quite useful in the different scenarios described.
1. Maximize Available Screen Space
It is tedious to put all the different programs in a single system tray. Multiple desktops divide the workload, resulting in a much less cluttered taskbar. They give you more screen real estate and you can even see a timeline of activities when multiple apps are open.
2. Keep Desktops Separate for Work, Personal, Entertainment, and Gaming
The main purpose of multiple desktops in Windows is to keep your work and personal life separate. You can create as many desktops as you like with names like “Work”, “Entertainment”, “Home”, and so on. The possibilities are endless. Imagine watching a Netflix movie in full screen on an “entertainment” desk while working on a Word document on a “work” desk. With multiple desktops, you no longer have to worry about minimizing different windows.
In another scenario, you may want to share your desktop through a Zoom video call. Participants can clearly see all the items on their desktop. Often times, other people record those calls. Instead of showing them your private information, you can hold the meeting at a separate “work” desk with no personal information.
3. Easily Enter and Exit Presenter View in PowerPoint
One of the best uses for multiple desktops is during a PowerPoint presentation. Sometimes it is necessary to exit PowerPoint in moderator mode to share a video or view a demo in a browser. This can be tiring if you have to do it multiple times. Instead of pressing Esc at each exit, the presenter can use multiple desktops and the Win + Ctrl + Left or Right Arrow keys to easily switch between the PowerPoint presentation and the browser or video.
4. Switch Between Open Apps in Windows 10
If you’re working with multiple applications that take up a lot of space, such as Google Docs, Word, Excel, Photoshop, and a coding editor, switching between them can be a hassle. Instead, you can easily use multiple desktops for different purposes.
5. Deal with Crashed Applications
When your apps crash in full screen mode, the mouse pointer can sometimes freeze and the Esc key won’t help you exit. The multi-desktop shortcut (Win + Ctrl + Left or Right Arrow) allows you to switch from a locked desktop to a stable one. Once you get out of the frozen screen, you can easily fix the crash by closing unnecessary apps.
6. Have a Clean Desktop for Home Use
Whether you want to watch a video or play a game, your leisure activities during your downtime can interfere with the many work-related files and programs that are open next to you. But with the multi-desktop feature in Windows, you can escape to a clean desktop without any other items.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many multiple desktops can I create?
There is no limit to the number of desktops you can create. You can easily close additional desktop windows with the Win + Ctrl + F4 key combination.
2. Does creating multiple desktops in Windows affect performance?
No. You can create as many desktops as you want without affecting performance. It’s the applications and RAM usage that can cause performance issues, but multiple desktops themselves have a very negligible impact on system resources.
3. How do I delete all my desktops at once?
To delete all your desktops at once, you can select an icon, hold down the Ctrl key, select more desktop icons, and then right-click and then click the Delete key to delete them all.
4. What happens to my multiple desktops when I restart my PC?
If you restart your PC with multiple desktops open, all desktop environments will be restored after the system restarts. However, the applications are closed, which is usually the case when the system is restarted.
5. How do I know which desktop is the one I’m using when multiple desktops are open?
To determine the desktop currently used, click Task View and look for a line below the current desktop.