How To Create And Manage Multiple Desktops (Virtual Desktops) On Windows 11

You can create a new Virtual Desktop or manage them by clicking on the Task View button in the taskbar, or by using the Windows Key + Tab shortcut keys. Learn how to operate multiple desktops on a Windows computer.

Windows 11 Multiple Desktops

Like Windows 10, Windows 11 allows users to have multiple desktops on the same user account. Microsoft also refers to these as “Virtual Desktops,” but this term can be confused with the Virtual Desktops feature of Azure.

The Virtual Desktop we will be discussing today is a Windows OS feature that can be used to separate different tasks and windows into different Windows 11 environments, making it easier to manage and organize your projects and other work, without making a lot of clutter.

What are Multiple Desktops in Windows

Multiple Desktops, of Windows Virtual Desktops, are isolated Windows environments that separate your windows. For example, you can have 10 applications open on one desktop while having another 10 applications open on another, making it easier for you to manage them.

This is especially helpful if you want to separate your work from your personal windows.

Of course, the system resources being used would be the same, and the same user account would be used across the multiple desktops, so you would not have to sign into any accounts while switching between the virtual desktops.

As per Microsoft, you can have an unlimited number of Virtual Desktops. You can even open only 1 window per desktop.

How to Create Multiple Desktops on Windows

Creating multiple desktop environments on a Windows 11/10 computer is as simple as switching between the different open windows. There are two ways you can create a new Windows Virtual Desktop.

From Task View

  1. Click on the Task view button in the taskbar.

    Task View button
    Task View button

    Note: The Task View button may be hidden from the Windows Settings. To make it visible again, navigate to the following and toggle the slider in front of “Task View” into the On position.

    Settings app >> Personalization >> Taskbar
    Enable Task View button
    Enable Task View button
  2. Now click New desktop from the bar at the bottom.

    Create new desktop
    Create new desktop
  3. You will now see that a new desktop has been created. Simply click on it to switch to it.

    Switch to new desktop
    Switch to new desktop

From Shortcut Keys

  1. Press the Windows Key + Tab shortcut keys simultaneously to toggle the Task View screen.

  2. Now click New desktop from the bar at the bottom.

    Create new desktop
    Create new desktop
  3. You will now see that a new desktop has been created. Simply click on it to switch to it.

    Switch to new desktop
    Switch to new desktop

You can then begin working on a new, clean desktop environment without having to close any of the already-open windows.

Alternatively, you can also press the CTRL + Windows Key + D shortcut keys to instantly create a new Virtual Desktop.

More Virtual Desktop shortcuts are given below.

Of course, with multiple desktops, it can be confusing which desktop has which windows open. Therefore, we suggest that you rename the desktops to something more definitive.

How to Rename Virtual Desktops

When having multiple desktops, it is a good practice you rename them so you know which window you are working on. Follow these steps to rename a Windows Virtual Desktop:

  1. Open the Task View screen by either the shortcut keys (Windows Key + Tab) or the Task view button in the taskbar.

  2. Now right-click on the desktop that you wish to rename and then click Rename from the context menu.

    Rename desktop
    Rename desktop
  3. The name of the desktop will now be highlighted. Enter your own custom name in its place and then hit Enter to finalize it. You will now see that the new name has been set.

    Desktop renamed
    Desktop renamed

Move Window Between Desktops

You may want to move one window from one virtual desktop to another. This saves you the hassle of reopening the same window where it is needed and closing it where it is not. To do so, 2 methods can be used.

Drag-and-Drop

  1. Open the Task View screen by either the shortcut keys (Windows Key + Tab) or the Task view button in the taskbar.

  2. Now hover your mouse over the desktop that you want to move the window from. This will display all of the open windows of that desktop in the top half of the screen.

    Open windows in a desktop
    Open windows on a desktop
  3. Now click and hold on the window that you want to move and drag it to the desktop that you want to move it to. The window will snap on the desktop and there you can release the click button.

    Drag and drop the window
    Drag and drop the window
  4. As you can see in the image below, the selected window will now be displayed on the new desktop.

    Window has been shifted
    Window has been shifted

From Context Menu

Another way to move a window from one desktop to another is through the context menu.

  1. Open the Task View screen by either the shortcut keys (Windows Key + Tab) or the Task view button in the taskbar.

  2. Now hover your mouse over the desktop that you want to move the window from. This will display all of the open windows of that desktop in the top half of the screen.

    Open windows in a desktop
    Open windows on a desktop
  3. Now right-click on the window that you want to move, expand Move to from the context menu, and then click on the desktop to which you want to move the window to.

    Move to another desktop
    Move to another desktop
  4. You should now see the selected window in the new desktop to which you can switch.

    Window has been shifted
    Window has been shifted

Duplicate Windows Across Desktops

Another useful feature of these multiple desktops is that you can duplicate a window across all other desktops as well. Furthermore, you can also duplicate all windows from the same app.

For example, if you have multiple File Explorer windows open on a desktop, you can show all of them on other desktops as well. Optionally, you can also only duplicate a single window.

Unfortunately, the window can only be duplicated across all desktops at the same time. You cannot duplicate it on selective desktops.

Moreover, any changes made inside a duplicated window on one desktop are automatically transferred to the same window across all the desktops.

Here are the steps to duplicate a window across multiple desktops:

  1. Open the Task View screen by either the shortcut keys (Windows Key + Tab) or the Task view button in the taskbar.

  2. Now hover your mouse over the desktop that you want to move the window from. This will display all of the open windows of that desktop in the top half of the screen.

    Open windows in a desktop
    Open windows on a desktop
  3. Now right-click on the window that you want to duplicate and then click on either of the following options from the context menu:

    • Show this window on all desktops
    • Show windows from this app on all desktops
    Duplicate a window
    Duplicate a window
  4. Once done, you will find that the window(s) will be displayed on all the desktops. Even the desktop(s) that will be created in the future will automatically import the duplicated window(s).

    Window has been duplicated
    Window has been duplicated

You can also remove a duplicated window from the Virtual Desktops. Note that removing a window will remove it from all the desktops except the one where it originally exists.

To remove a duplicated window, hover your mouse pointer over any desktop, right-click on the window that you want to remove, and then click Show this window on all desktops or Show windows from this app on all windows (whichever has a tickmark beside it to unmark it).

Remove duplicated window
Remove duplicated window

How to Delete/Remove Multiple Desktops

If you have a lot of desktops set up, you can easily remove them if not being used. Here is how:

  1. Open the Task View screen by either the shortcut keys (Windows Key + Tab) or the Task view button in the taskbar.

  2. Now hover your mouse over the desktop that you want to close and the “X” button will show up. Click on the button to instantly remove the desktop.

    Note: Closing a desktop will automatically close all the windows inside it as well and they will not be shifted to another desktop.

    Close a Virtual Desktop
    Close a Virtual Desktop

Useful Shortcut Keys for Windows Virtual Desktops

The table below gives the details for some useful shortcuts that you can use when creating and managing Virtual Desktops on a Windows computer:

Shortcut KeysDescription
CTRL + Windows Key + DCreate a new Virtual Desktop
CTRL + Windows Key + F4Close the active Virtual Desktop
CTRL + Windows Key + Right ArrowSwitch to the right Virtual Desktop
CTRL + Windows Key + Left ArrowSwitch to the left Virtual Desktop
Shortcut keys for Virtual Desktops

Why Use Multiple Windows Desktops?

As we mentioned earlier, the multiple Virtual Desktops feature on a Windows computer allows you to organize and isolate your windows. Instead of having a plethora of apps and windows open, where both your taskbar and your screen are filled with apps and icons, you can divide them into different work environments.

Even if you restart your computer or put it to sleep/hibernate, your desktops, as well as the windows*, are preserved which you can return to later and continue from where you left off.

*The windows are only preserved if you put your computer to sleep or hibernate.

The use of multiple desktops is ideal for people wanting to separate their projects and types of work.

Also see:

Subhan Zafar is an established IT professional with interests in Windows and Server infrastructure testing and research, and is currently working with Itechtics as a research consultant. He has studied Electrical Engineering and is also certified by Huawei (HCNA & HCNP Routing and Switching).

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