How to Use Virtual Desktops in Windows 11

“Virtual Desktops” aren’t a new Windows 11 feature. However, Microsoft’s latest OS has brought them front and center. On Windows 11, you can easily access and manage Virtual Desktops from a taskbar icon.

Microsoft wouldn’t promote a useless feature, so you probably ought to be using them. But why? And, more importantly, how?

By the end of this post, you’ll be juggling multiple Virtual Desktops and wondering why you didn’t use them before!

How to create virtual desktops

By default, Windows doesn’t use any Virtual Desktops. Only the desktop you’re on is active. If you visit your list of Virtual Desktops, that’s the only one you’ll see there, named Desktop 1.

  1. You can access your Virtual Desktops by hovering over or clicking the Task View icon on the taskbar.
Windows 11 Virtual Desktops New Desktop
You can create a new virtual desktop by either clicking on the related button in the Virtual Desktops preview or using the Windows Key + CTRL + D keyboard combination.
  1. Do you want to create a new Virtual Desktop? Click on the empty rectangle with the “+” inside, under New Desktop. Alternatively, you can press Windows Key + CTRL + D simultaneously.

You can create multiple Virtual Desktops. They’ll be accessible from the same button on the taskbar or the Windows Key + Tab key combination.

How to delete virtual desktops

Do you have more Virtual Desktops than you need?

  1. You can close a Virtual Desktop in the same way you would close an app from the taskbar. First, click on the Task View button. Then, when the Virtual Desktop previews show up, hover over the one you want to close. A classic red “X” button will appear on its top right. Click on it to close that Virtual Desktop.

    Windows 11 Virtual Desktops Close Desktop
    To close a Virtual Desktop, either click on the red “X” button on the top right of its thumbnail, when viewing all available Virtual Desktops, or press Windows Key + CTRL + F4 to terminate the one you’re on.

Would you prefer a quicker way to get rid of your active Virtual Desktop (the one you’re currently looking at)? Press Windows Key + CTRL + F4.

How to manage virtual desktops

You’ve created some Virtual Desktops, but how can you use them? Most of the apps you run will show up on the currently active desktop. When you move to another Virtual Desktop, their windows will “stay-behind” where you left them.

  1. Moving to each Virtual Desktop to launch the apps you want there can become a chore. Instead, run the software you need on your current Virtual Desktop and then move its window to another one. To do that, press Windows Key + Tab. Notice that, apart from your Virtual Desktops, you can also see all active windows. Next, click and hold the left mouse button on one of the app windows. Then, drag it on the thumbnail of the Virtual Desktop where you want it.

    Windows 11 Virtual Desktops Moving Windows Between Desktops
    To move app windows between Virtual Desktops, press Windows Key + Tab. Then, click and drag an app’s window preview to the thumbnail of the Virtual Desktop where you want it.
  2. You can also rearrange your Virtual Desktops in the same way. First, click and hold the left mouse button on a Virtual Desktop’s thumbnail. Then, drag and drop it where you want among the rest.

    Windows 11 Virtual Desktops Rearranging Desktops
    You can rearrange your Virtual Desktops by dragging their thumbnails before or after other Virtual Desktops.
  3. Of course, you can also rename your Virtual Desktops. To do that, click on their label and then type a new name. Still, that might not be enough to tell them apart – and imbue them with “character”. That’s why you can also change their wallpaper. Right-click on a Virtual Desktop’s thumbnail and select Choose background. Then, choose the image you want to use as this Virtual Desktop’s backdrop.

    Windows 11 Virtual Desktops Changing Background
    Unlike Windows 10, on Windows 11 you can also change each Virtual Desktop’s wallpaper. This can make it easier to tell which Virtual Desktop you’re on. To do that, right-click on a Virtual Desktop’s thumbnail. Then, choose to change its background from the menu that pops up.

With your Virtual Desktops all set up, it’s easier to jump between them using the keyboard. Keep Windows Key + CTRL held down, then press the left or right cursor key.

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