An Introduction to Virtual Desktop & Task View in Windows 10

Joel Lee 13-04-2016

Task View and Virtual Desktop are a novel Windows features that made a debut in Windows 10. How many of you have actually used these features? It’s a shame if you haven’t because Task View and Virtual Desktop are awesome.


What’s worse, some of the people who do know about Task View think it’s redundant or useless. This couldn’t be further from my reality. When used properly, Task View will not only boost your overall productivity, but will also improve your overall impression of Windows 10, especially when combined with Virtual Desktops.

Task View and Virtual Desktops are quality-of-life enhancements that you shouldn’t overlook. Here’s why they are useful and how you can start making use of them right now.

What Are Task View & Virtual Desktop?

Simply put, Task View takes all currently open windows and “spreads them out” so you can see all of them at the same time. For those who have switched over from Mac to Windows 7 Tips for Switching from Mac to Windows You'll be surprised to see how much Windows has to offer. Transition smoothly from Mac to Windows with our advice. Read More , Task View is the Windows analog of Mission Control in OS X (which was formerly known as Exposé).

Those who claim that Task View is an unnecessary addition to Windows 10 often point to the fact that you can do the same thing with the Task Switcher feature that’s been around since Windows 3.0. Why use Task View when you can just ALT + TAB instead?

The first benefit is that the usefulness of Task View is proportional to how many simultaneous applications you run at any given time. If you only have three or four windows open at once, then yeah, Task View isn’t much better than Task Switcher. But if you have five or more windows open, then Task Switcher can become cumbersome to use.



Which means Task View is incredibly useful for office workers and heavy multitaskers Single- vs. Multitasking: What's Best for Productivity? Multitasking is a common method to increase productivity. Turns out it's not necessarily the silver bullet for productivity. The key is to know when to multitask. Read More , but also nice if your computer is powerful enough that you never have to close any applications.

The other benefit of Task View is that it’s integrated with the new Virtual Desktops feature. For those who aren’t aware, Windows 10 can create multiple desktops that each hold their own set of application windows — and you can easily switch between these desktops in real-time.

Virtual desktops make it way easier to stay organized. For example, you can keep all of your work-related windows on Desktop 1, all of your leisure windows on Desktop 2, and all of your background windows (e.g. mail, music, notes) on Desktop 3. Switch back and forth as needed.


Prior to Windows 10, virtual desktops were only possible through the use of third-party tools Avoid Window Overload: 5 Great Tools To Manage Multiple Windows Using the Windows desktop involves managing windows. Some people may use full-screen windows, but power users know that the key to being productive is having multiple windows visible at a time, whether you're using multiple... Read More . Thankfully, Microsoft saw how useful they could be and decided to incorporate them as a native feature (which ended up being one of the best things they could’ve done 10 Surprising Reasons Why You Will Like Windows 10 It's almost cool to hate on Windows 10 these days. Don't let that deprive you of all the benefits Windows 10 will bring! We show you what you're missing out on. Read More ).

How to Use Task View & Virtual Desktop

Convinced and ready to start using Task View with Virtual Desktops? The good news is that it’s surprisingly easy, even if you’re a tech-illiterate newbie. Don’t be afraid to dive right in.

Bringing Up Task View

At the very bottom left of your screen, you should see a button in the Taskbar (next to the Start Menu button) for Task View, which looks like a square with rectangles peeking out on either side of it. Click on it to open Task View. You can also press the keyboard shortcut Windows key + TAB.



If you don’t see the Task View button, you probably disabled it at some point, but that’s no problem. Simply right-click on the Taskbar and select Show Task View button to re-enable it. Unfortunately, you can’t drag it around and rearrange it like you can with regular application icons in the Taskbar.

When Task View is open, just click on any window to switch to it. Or you can navigate and select a window using the  left / right / up / down arrows on your keyboard. Use whichever method is easier for you in the moment.

Creating Virtual Desktops

While Task View is open, look at the bottom right and you’ll see a button called +New Desktop. Click it or press TAB and hit Enter to create a new one. If you have more than one desktop, you’ll see a bar appear along the bottom that you can use to select between them or remove ones you no longer need.



Another way to create a new virtual desktop is to drag one of the applications from Task View onto the +New Desktop button. This will simultaneously create and move the application window to the new virtual desktop.

In much the same way, you can also drag applications from Task View onto other active desktops to move windows between them.

Just as there is no limit to how many regular applications you can have open on Windows, there is no limit to how many virtual desktops you can have at any one time either. However, you may experience a system slowdown, if you have too many virtual desktops and not enough RAM to support them Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? Need a faster computer but aren't sure what you should upgrade on your PC? Follow our PC upgrade checklist to find out. Read More .

Essential Shortcuts & Gestures

If you really want to crank up your proficiency and productivity in Windows 10, you should take a few moments to learn the following keyboard shortcuts. These will allow you to seamlessly manage Task View and Virtual Desktops. No more need to ever lift your hands.

  • Windows key + TAB: In Windows 8 and prior, this shortcut used to be nothing more than a fancier alternative to the ALT + TAB shortcut. Now, Windows key + TAB opens and closes Task View.
  • Windows key + CTRL + D: Immediately creates a new virtual desktop and switches to it.
  • Windows key + CTRL + F4: Immediately removes the current virtual desktop and switches you to the virtual desktop that’s adjacent to the left. All open windows are moved with you to the adjacent desktop.
  • Windows key + CTRL + Left: Switch to the virtual desktop that’s adjacent to the left. Does not wrap around if no adjacent desktop exists.
  • Windows key + CTRL + Right: Switch to the virtual desktop that’s adjacent to the right. Does not wrap around if no adjacent desktop exists.

If you’re on a laptop that has a precision touchpad, you can swipe upwards with three fingers to open Task View. This gesture is great when you’re doing something that requires a lot of mouse-work and window-switching. (It’s way better than constantly clicking down on the Taskbar.)

If you’re on a touchscreen device, such as a Windows 10 tablet, you can swipe in from the left edge to open Task View. However, this feature will only work if your screen has a resolution of at least 1024 x 768 pixels.

Want to get even more productive? Take some time to master these other nifty Windows key shortcuts 13 Nifty "Windows Key" Tricks You Should Know By Now The Windows Key can be used to do a lot of neat things. Here are the most useful shortcuts that you should already be using. Read More , these helpful File Explorer shortcuts 13 Essential File Explorer Shortcuts You Need to Know A few essential keyboard shortcuts could be the difference between sluggishness and speedy productivity. Read More , and these essential touchpad and touchscreen gestures 18 Essential Touch Gestures in Windows 10 Touch gestures are like keyboard shortcuts for your touchpad and touchscreen. And with Windows 10, they have finally become useful! We'll show you how to access the full potential of touch gestures. Read More .

Other Productivity Boosts in Windows 10

As useful as the Task View and Virtual Desktops features can be, they aren’t the only features that can drive up your productivity. If you haven’t already, consider learning about Snap Assist and Taskbar tweaks 7 Ways to Organize and Control Your Windows Desktop Your Windows desktop is more versatile than you think. You can utilize a number of tricks and tools to keep things tidy and get things done quicker. Read More , which are other quality-of-life enhancements that you’ll love.

Keep going with these lesser-known Task Manager tricks 10 Windows Task Manager Tricks You Probably Didn't Know Here are handy Task Manager tricks every Windows user should know, including how to bring up the Task Manager quickly and more! Read More  and these awesome Windows superpowers 10 Neglected Windows Superpowers & How to Access Them With all its nooks and crannies, not even the most die-hard Windows fans have explored all its complex features. We have compiled those hidden Windows tips and tricks we think anyone will appreciate. Read More  and you’ll be a master in no time. And if you ever feel overwhelmed, remember that Windows 10 can even lift your mood 6 Ways Windows 10 Can Lift Your Mood Windows has been a reliable source of frustration. You no longer have to threaten Microsoft with the bill from your therapist. We show you how Windows 10 can help you improve your mood. Read More !

How do you feel about Task View and Virtual Desktops in Windows 10? Do you use them regularly? Got any other tips and tricks you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below!

Related topics: Keyboard Shortcuts, Task View, Virtual Desktop, Windows 10.

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  1. Ian Wardell
    December 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Just installed W10 a few hours ago. I have no clue as to the purpose of virtual desktops. Why not simply create a new folder on one's existing desktop and go to that?

  2. suresh
    June 26, 2016 at 5:27 am

    is there an option or third party software to password protect the taskview in windows 10 to restrict someone to view the multiple desktop

  3. suresh
    June 26, 2016 at 5:26 am

    hi can anyone let me know how to password protect the taskview desktop.

  4. Anonymous
    April 14, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I love Windows 10.

    • Joel Lee
      April 18, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      A rare opinion! Nice to see some positivity in the sea of Microsoft hate. :)

  5. Anonymous
    April 14, 2016 at 4:23 am

    Even after reading this I still don't think I'd ever need to use virtual desktops. I disable them in Linux to as I can't find any use for them. It's nice that MS has added the feature for those that do use them.

    • Joel Lee
      April 18, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      No worries! I went a long time without virtual desktops so I can definitely see how some people wouldn't need them. As you said, it's nice to have the option though. :)

  6. samol
    April 13, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Middle click the mouse button on the desktop does the trick as well. Brings up the tasks and virtuals.

    • Joel Lee
      April 18, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      Huh, I had no idea. Thanks samol!

    • Tina Sieber
      April 19, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      Interesting. It doesn't work for me.