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6 multitasking tips to be more productive on Windows 10

It can be overwhelming when you're working with a lot of apps and files, but Windows 10 can help. We'll show you five multitasking tips to help you become more productive on Windows 10.

1. Snap

Snapping in Windows 10 a great way to use your screen real estate more efficiently if you have several apps open. To snap a window, all you need to do is drag the top of an app window to the side. Snap Assist comes in to help you choose the other apps you'd like to snap in other available spaces. You can also snap apps to any of the four corners by dragging the title bar to those corners. You can see how to use Snap and Snap Assist for Windows 10 in the video below.

2. Task view

By swiping from the left side of the screen, you can see all the open apps and quickly switch as needed. This is called Task View, and there are other ways to bring it up. You can also tap the Task view button on the taskbar, or press the keyboard shortcut: Windows + Tab. You can also swipe up on the trackpad with three fingers.

3. Virtual desktops

If you think Task View is helpful, you can go a step further with Virtual Desktops. While Task View is open, you can create a new virtual desktop by tapping the new desktop button on the lower right corner. You can also drag apps to that area. This lets you group apps in multiple desktops. For example, you can place Outlook and Microsoft Edge in Desktop 1, while you have Netflix and Twitter in Desktop 2. You can see Task View and Virtual Desktops in action in the following video.

4. Keyboard shortcuts

You can check our list of essential keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10, but the shortcuts listed below are more specific to help you multitask:

Keyboard shortcutAction
Windows key + TabOpen Task view
Alt +TabSwitch between open apps
Ctrl + Alt +TabView open apps
Windows key + Arrow keySnap app windows left, right, corners, maximize, or minimize
Windows key + CommaTemporarily peek at the desktop
Windows key + Ctrl +DAdd a virtual desktop
Windows key + Ctrl + Left or Right arrowSwitch between virtual desktops
Windows key + CommaTemporarily peek at the desktop
Windows key + HomeMinimize all but the active desktop window (restores all windows on the second stroke)
Windows key + DShow/hide desktop

5. Touchpad gestures

You can check our list of essential touchpad gestures for Windows 10, but here are the gestures that are more specific to multitasking:

  1. Show Task view: If you're viewing all open windows (from the step above), swipe up again with three fingers.
  2. Show the desktop: Place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe them towards yourself.
  3. Switch between open windows: Place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe right or left.

Watch our how-to video below:

6. Mouse tricks

You can also use the trackpad for this trick, but go to Settings > Devices > Mouse & touchpad and enable Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them. This option lets you scroll other windows when you hover over them, even if they aren't active. For example, this is super handy if you are typing on Microsoft Word (the active window) and scrolling through a press release in Microsoft Edge (the inactive window). This setting may be already On by default but double-check your PC.

Another mouse trick we recommend for multitasking is to click the tiny space all the way to the lower right corner, next to the time and date. This hides and shows your desktop.

We hope these tips help you become more productive in Windows 10. For more tips, we have many more posts like this one in our Windows 10 help, tips, and tricks page.

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

47 Comments
  • To be honest I didn't know about any of these shortcuts and tips. I had been wanting to know how to do virtual desktops for ages now. Now I know
  • Sometimes I have to save all these tips to Poki to make sure I don't forget them. very helpful.
  • You'll also then be interested in the button directly to the right of Cortana on the task bar... Try it, I'll wait... Yes, that button was there the whole time.
  • Great thanks for all the tips :)
  • You can also hover over the little tab on bottom right to peek at desktop making open windows gray transparent, mouse back out and it will show again. If peek doesn't work, right click tab and check peek at desktop.
  • This has existed before though. It was called Aero Peek back in Win7. I don't remember if it was there in Win8, because I always switched the feature off first thing after buying a new computer or reinstalling Windows (and win + d is much faster to do).
  • Yes it did exist. Comment was in response to second to last paragraph.
  • I thought Aero Peek was the thing where you put your mouse over an inactive window icon on the taskbar and it shows thumbnails for the open window(s) - except in Edge which is super annoying because it's a quick way to jump to an open web page when you have multiple tabs and are working somewhere else but quickly want to jump to the screen
  • both features are part of aero peek, you can "peek" at the desktop, or "peek" at opened windows
  • Is it possible to show exclusive shortcuts for each virtual desktop?
  • I would love to know how to do this as well.
  • no, maybe it will be added as an option, but it's not possible yet
  • This is possible, if I've understood your post. Right Click the Taskbar, select Properties, in the Taskbar tab Multiple display section tick Show taskbar on all displays, in the Show taskbar buttons on: drop down select Taskbar where window is open. The main Taskbar will still show all icons.
  • Nah i meant about the desk folder
  • Tip: If you have a programmable button on your mouse, assign Win+Tab to it
  • #6 is the best feature for me. Previously I had to rely on wonky 3rd party software to do this.
  • I haven't used anything of this and I am more productive than most people. I haven't used virtual desktops and I rarely use alt+tab and sometimes some keyboard shortcuts and I have no touch, I rarely snap. and Scroll inactive windows when I hover over them is enable by default. so I was using it before knowing ​
  • Doesn't have anything to do with how productive the user themselves is.
  • Didn't know #6, thanks
  • I use snap constantly. I just wish it wouldn't lose my adjusted window sizes when changing displays or waking from sleep. And the virtual desktops are helping some to keep me from wasting time on non-work applications .. like I am now, from my non-work virtual desktop.
  • Do u guys know how to make those minimized windows in the taskbar that small? I have them wide!
  • To show only the icon on the taskbar: right click on taskbar, select properties, on the 'Taskbar' tab change "Taskbar buttons:" to "always combine, hide labels"
  • Been looking for the icon only option as I enabled labels and wanted to go back to icons only. Saw the combine part but missed hide labels, somehow! Thanks :) :)
  • I already use Snap on all my Windows 8 devices.  And almost all the useful mouse gestures from Windows 8 are GONE in Windows 10.  I find keyboard shortcuts to be lame and unintuitive compared to good mouse gestures.  And isn't it funny that people who whined about the "jarring" experience of going between Metro and legacy programs, but they embrace the equally "jarring" fake desktops.
  • While I'm not going to argue about your feelings towards 8 vs. 10 mouse gestures, virtual desktops jarring? Really? You're going to make that your argument about how 8 was better... Ummm.... Okay I guess...
  • He talks about people whining about "different screen / Environments" in W8, while accepting different screens on W10 (along with their confusing implementation) for good.
  • Liking these articles. As a mac user for the last 3 years and not using windows at home since 7 (only just got 7 at work, stuck on XP for ages prior), coming back to windows via a Surface 3 the tips provided are helping to make the transition back even easier, and better than it already has been. Thanks.
  • Glad to finally have virtual desktops
  • I really like the task view on Tablets VS the Swipe from left to right... I just wish MS took it one step farther.  Why can't they allow me to switch to task view and then grab a window and snap it to the side.  It would take away some of my frustration.  They could do the same with allowing me to drop it down to close the window.  MS is becoming very predictable.  They did the same with 8.0.  THey had to make us wait for 8.1 to polish the product. There are so many things Microsoft did right, but they suck at polishing the product before releasing it.. BlitZ
  • Don't know if this helps but if you have a window open then swipe down and to the left or right, then the other apps appear to snap next to the open app. Also, WinKey and left, right, up, down keys works but only in Desktop mode!
  • I can't believe so few people know about and use Alt-Tab task switching.  Tap it once to switch to the last app you were most recently using.  Tap it again to jump back instantly.  Want to go ot the app you were using BEFORE that?  Hold down Alt and tap Tab twice, and voila.  Want to go the OTHER direction?  Hold down shift with alt while tapping tab.  As long as you don't release the alt, you can tab, and shift-tab, to move back and forward through your apps.  It's INCREDIBLY useful.  
  • How about shaking the window title bar to clear the desktop? Clicking Windows + left arrow or right arrow to snap half-screen?
  • In Desktop WinKey and arrows left, right, up and down work wonderfully.
  • Concerning tip #2, Windows+Tab is wrong combo. Tab+Windows actually lets you do what the title told.
  • Simply not true. The article is correct. It really is Windows+Tab.
  • Hi jessicator.....kindly tell me does windows vista has no multitasking ?? ....mY Email address is muhammad_farhan790@yahoo.com...kindly ans me on this mail will be thankful
  • Install Touch Engine for unbelievably awesome gestures that you can create and modify yourself.    I for one, love my abilit​y to use four fingers and rotate (R/L) to increase and decrease brightness. I have similar gestures for volume control, task view, and opening the start menu.  I feel like a VooDoo Priest.  A very efficient...VooDoo Priest :P
  • Its those types of macros that I would love to see integrated into the OS...
  • One (maybe) useful tip for keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + arrow (left, down or right). It will flip your screen.
  • only for intel graphics
  • Almost all of these features are taken from linux... And that's a good thing as that's very good features that should be a standard in operating systems. Btw Microsoft implemented them better
  • This is a very good article.  Keep up the good work. We appreciate your efforts.
  • Agree with a lot of comments here, love these articles. To the point and focusing on one area makes easy reading.
  • Comparing those "multitasking features", it begins to tell how easily accessible and consistent Android is over this hodgepodge of UI-principles called Windows 10. Thanks for clarifying.
  • Wow, Virtual desktops are awesome
  • Great tips. I didn't know the scrolling over inactive windows features was built in to W10 but that's awesome! I've been using WizMouse for years on W7 and W8 just to do that. Nice to know it's already there, realy convenient feature once you get used to it.
  • I miss being able to do a quick swipe from left edge to switch to the previous app. Even though I've been using Windows 10 for a while now, it still feels wrong to have to swipe and tap, partly because the tap location various with the number of tasks displayed in task view.