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Using Virtual Desktops in Windows 11

This page will explain how to use virtual desktops, also known as virtual spaces, on a Windows 11 system.

What are Virtual Desktops?

Virtual desktops are a form of storage that allow you to arrange your apps into multiple different pop-up “desktops” that are separate from your main desktop. Virtual desktops were present in Windows 10 and function essentially the same, with some minor differences:

How to create a Virtual Desktop

  • Click the Task View button on your taskbar. By default, it is directly to the right of the search bar, and looks like a white square overlayed on a black square.

    • Alternatively, you can open Task View with the keyboard shortcut (Windows+Tab)

  • When you have Task View open, you will see every application you have open laid out in a grid, as well as your Virtual Desktops listed horizontally below.

  • Click the ‘New Desktop’ square containing a plus (“+”) symbol to create a new Virtual Desktop.

    • Additionally, you can use (Windows+Ctrl+D) to create a new Virtual Desktop.

  • The Virtual Desktops will be listed in numerical order, “Desktop 1”, “Desktop 2” and so on.

  • You can create as many Virtual Desktops as you wish, there is no limit.

How to delete a Virtual Desktop

  • Simply hover over the Virtual Desktop you wish to remove on the Task View screen, and an “X” will appear in the top right. Click it to remove the Virtual Desktop.

    • Alternatively, you can delete a Virtual Desktop by hovering over it with your mouse and then hitting the Delete key.

  • Note that a Virtual Desktop is NOT an entire other system, in other words, if you close a Virtual Desktop, it does not close all the windows open on that Desktop and will instead move/merge them onto the next available Desktop.

How to use a Virtual Desktop

  • The purpose of a Virtual Desktop, as mentioned previously, is a type of storage/organizational system. It is primarily used to house any kind of window (such as when you open an app, or folder), and it can then be stored in that Virtual Desktop, exactly how you left it, to be re-opened later.

  • Click on a Virtual Desktop in the Task View menu, and this will close the Task View menu and bring you to your selection. Any apps, windows, or files that you open here will remain open and saved in the orientation you ordered them on that Virtual Desktop.

  • Open the Task View menu again, and you can see that your apps will be visible in the Virtual Desktop thumbnails to remind you what’s there. Again, all your open windows/apps will always be visible separately in a grid above the Virtual Desktop selection.

  • You can switch between these with ease, just remember: if you delete a Virtual Machine, the open apps/windows will not be deleted as well; they will simply slide over and combine in the next available Virtual Desktop.

Setting different wallpapers for Virtual Desktops

  • You can optionally change the wallpaper for each Virtual Desktop. Whether you do this aesthetically or to help you stay organized is your choice.

  • Click on your Virtual Desktop of choice in the Task View menu.

  • After it has opened, right click anywhere on the Desktop as you would to change your actual Desktop wallpaper, and click ‘Personalize’.

  • You will then be quickly navigated to the Personalization section of your settings. Here you can set a wallpaper or theme as you normally would, except these settings will be unique to that Virtual Desktop.

  • You can go back to the Task View menu to see how it worked out.