How to manage virtual desktops in Windows 11

How to manage virtual desktops in Windows 11

Want to keep your work email and Word documents separate from the games you play after hours? In Windows, you can switch to virtual desktops, which seal groups of apps, making them easier to manage.

Introduced in Windows 10 with the integrated View Tasks button on the taskbar, the functionality has been revamped for Windows 11. The Windows timeline showing your recent activity is gone; in its place is the much more elegant and simple Desktops icon.

View your virtual desktops

You can manage your desktops by clicking on the icon Desktop on the taskbar (it looks like two gray squares) which will show all your open programs and all the virtual desktops you have created. (Or use the shortcut Win + Tab .)

desktop icon

Windows 11 also has a rollover feature that lets you hover over the Desktop icon to view existing desktops, rearrange them, and create new ones.

Windows 11 rollover function

Create new desktops

To create a new desktop, click the button New desktop and a new desktop will be added to the list. (Or use the keyboard shortcut Win + Ctrl + D .) The new desktop will be blank, but any open programs you were using are still open on the old desktop.

new desktop

Rename your desktops

To rename open desktops, click on the default name (Desktop 1, Desktop 2, etc.) in the small preview image and enter a new name. Label them for specific purpose or project, for example.

rename desktop

Tidy up your desktops

With multiple desktops, it may become difficult to tell them apart. Organize open desktops by dragging them into your preferred order from the list at the bottom of the screen or right-click on a desktop and select Move right to change the order. (Use the shortcut Win + Ctrl + Left / Right Arrow to scroll between desktops and Alt + Shift Left / right arrow to move them.)

Change the wallpapers on your desktops

For a more visual way of differentiating between virtual desktops, Windows 11 lets you add a custom wallpaper to each. Right-click on a desktop and select Choose background to open the menu Backgrounds for that desktop.

new desktop wallpaper

Choose a wallpaper or upload your own and the wallpaper for that desktop will change, while the other open desktops will keep their original backgrounds.


Make Windows appear on desktops

By default, programs are kept separate from other desktops. So you might have multiple tabs open in Edge on one desktop, for example for work, then switch to a new desktop and open a completely different set of Edge tabs for personal use.

If you want a specific window (or a series of windows) to be available on multiple desktops, open the Desktop view, right-click the app and select Show this window on all desktops . The selection of Show windows from this app on all desktops it will do the same for each open version of the app.

multiple windows

Drag apps to another desktop

Open apps within one desktop can be dragged to another open desktop for easy rearrangement. If you close a desktop with programs open, they will automatically move to the next available desktop.

drag the app

Customize Quick View Taskbar Settings

If you want the apps open in the bar of applications highlight windows from all desktops when you click on them, go to Settings> System> Multitasking> Desktop> On the taskbar, show all open windows> On all desktops . Here you can also set the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut to bring out all windows from all desktops.


Add or remove the desktop icon

taskbar settings

Windows 11 adds the Desktop icon to the taskbar by default, but if you don’t want it to take up space (or can’t find it), right-click the taskbar and open Taskbar settings . Then use the switch next to Activity view to remove the icon or add it again. The keyboard shortcuts will continue to work regardless of whether the Desktop icon is visible or not.

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