How to use task view and virtual desktops in Windows 10 Technical Preview

One of my favorite features on Windows 10 Technical Preview is task view. By swiping from the left side of the screen, I can see all the open apps and quickly switch as needed. Windows 10 goes a step further with virtual desktops. This lets you group apps in multiple desktops. For example, you can place Outlook, Twitter, and the web browser in one desktop, while you have Netflix in another desktop. The organization is up to you. See how it works in our how-to video.

There are several ways to bring up Task View. You can swipe from the left edge of the screen, tap the task view button on the task bar, or press the Windows + Tab keys on the keyboard. You can also swipe up on the trackpad with three fingers.

While Task View is open, you can create a new desktop by tapping the new desktop button on the lower right corner. You can also drag apps to that area. Once you have created multiple desktops, they appear in Task View at the bottom as Desktop 1, Desktop 2, Desktop 3, etc. You can drag apps from one desktop to another. Have a keyboard? You can also create a new desktop by pressing Win + Ctrl + D.

How to use multiple desktops in Windows 10

There are several ways to switch between desktops. You can bring up Task View (see above), and then tap the desktop you want to see. Another way is by using the keyboard. You can quickly switch between virtual desktops by pressing Win + Ctrl + Left or Right. I haven't found a similar gesture with the trackpad or the touchscreen.

I love Task View and the virtual desktops on Windows 10. They make me feel more productive and organized. Do you feel the same? Sound off in the comments!

Mark Guim

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.

  • So I have a multi 3 moitor setup.. So I would have a different desktop per monitor? I am still lost on how this will work.
  • This is an environment option. U would have 3 seperate multi monitor desktops if u had 3 enabled on a multi monitor system for example.
  • And I thought it was hard enough now lol
  • Try to use Actual Window Manager, it's very helpful software
  • Here's how it works with OS X, so I'd assume something similar happens with Windows 10. Say I have the main MacBook monitor and just one external. That right there gives me two physical desktops. But then each physical desktop can have multiple virtual desktops which are self contained within each physical desktop. For example I could have two virtual desktops on my main MacBook screen and three virtual desktops on my external monitor if I wanted to. Switching between virtual desktops on one monitor will have no effect on the other monitor. I've never tried it myself, but I would think it extrapolates to three monitors too. But my view is that with more physical monitors fewer virtual desktops are needed.
  • Thankyou for the reply. I am going to run a dual boot today or maybe delet my main os. I have to this point only run windows 10 in vm. I'm able to vm across all monitors it will be nice to learn more about this. If we could have different backgrounds per desktop it might help differentiate b.w them. I have seen the option just not fooled around with it. Maybe a person with one monitor will find more use of this feature then me.
  • Unfortunately this is not the case with Win10.    Under TP10049 if you have multiple monitors, these constitute a single 'desktop' .  If you create a new virtual desktop, you get a new blank screen on both monitors.  Quite annoying and not very useful. What's more, in task view you can't drag applications between physical monitors.  Snapping applications to the edges of monitors doesn't work if you want to snap to an edge between monitors, it only works on the outer edge of the whole 'desktop' Hopefully they sort this out.
  • Ah, so Windows 10 treats multi-monitor setups like one large desktop even if you're using virtual desktops. I can see why that would be the case, but hopefully it gets fixed by the final release. If anyone using the preview can submit that as feedback then Microsoft will be more aware of it. I don't have the preview installed on any devices otherwise I'd submit it too. 
  • It would be better if they provide different instances of a software in different desktop. For e.g- If i have opened ie in one desktop, then in another desktop, it should open another instance of ie. What do you all say?
  • There's nothing stopping you from creating multiple instances of IE today so you can do whatever you want....
  • This will be helpful for separating different types of work. Office applications running on one desktop, engineering software running on another.
  • Or u know normal stuff on one and say games on another with porn tucked neatly away on the third. 4.1 lol
  • That's what I'm thinking
  • Lol
  • Great for code demos!
  • This was one of my favourite features in Linux, so I'm very happy its coming to windows too
  • True! I have wanted this for many years and really liked the feature in Linux. The 3rd party virtual desktop applications never quite cut the mustard.
  • Winbuntu 10, LOL! I was so over Ubuntu around the time of Windows Vista which ran poorly on an older PC. Ubuntu ran awesome on it with even more OS animation stuff than Vista. CrossOver enabled Office 2007 to run on it (plus a fair collection of Windows programs too). I'm quite impressed with Windows 10.
  • Is it kind of ubuntu feature where you could switch workspace ??
  • Exactly like that
  • Yes, I love this feature on Windows 10. I use my web designing stuff on one desktop and my browser/music on another.
  • My favorite !.its bless for those who do productive work and open lot of application at can neatly organize and clear the mess.may be Microsoft should allow to name and save this virtual desktop like Media,Development,Design as workspace with separate taskbar and desktop !
  • Ooh that actually is a good idea. Uservoice!
  • Virtual desktops are the worst thing they could do, because they won't stay after reboot... I should be able to create for example 3: First for daily stuff, second for games and third for work. I think its useless now.
  • Put in a feature request
  • I made one. Vote please:D
  • What are you talking about? No operating system has a feature that stays there when you shut down. That's why it's called "shutting down". It closes everything and shuts down the PC. The only way to keep things associated with a different desktop is to actually have different physical monitors. That's why this is called"virtual desktop", like virtually having multiple monitors. Your virtual desktops will stay as set as long s you don't shut down the PC. They will even stay there when you go to sleep mode or hibernation. Just don't shut down.
  • what are YOU talking about? OSX has done this forever
  • Not true. In Windows 8 (and in all modern desktops I have used) when I place an icon or post-it note or gadget or whatever on the desktop it is still there on next boot. And desktop apps often remember their positions too. Does this not happen with Win10? Bit of a backward step for desktop users.
  • What does this have to do with virtual desktops? Whatever you put on your desktop, be it sticky notes or widgets will remain there after a reboot, even in Windows 10
  • So when you shut down your PC everything on your desktop is lost? No its not! And that's how it should be done.
  • It's a "virtual" desktop for a reason: to provide a visual separation of work while you're working. On Linux its called workspaces and on OS X its called Spaces. I suppose it'll be nice if they found a way to make widgets persist after a boot but that'll be pushing it too far, and may even confuse users. It's not a real desktop. Just a way to separate your windows .
  • On Linux it's called whatever your desktop environment calls it. :p
  • I completely agree - what's the use if you can't save them for tomorrow - one for my wife and one for me for example - totally useless!! I have used shareware much better than this crap !
  • Great for mouse and pointer, multiple desktops, but the task switching system seems similar to the Win8 mouse and pointer style. What I'm waiting to see before I consider Win10 is the touch task switching mechanism. The Win8 system is pretty much perfect for touch so here's hoping they don't change it too much for us touch users who won't be using the desktop(s) at all (except for accessing the control panel etc.). Come on MS, reveal the touch interface already. Otherwise there'll be no time to feed back before release!
  • The only way to make sure that they don't fuck up touch, is to have articles on the front pages of major websites. You know, exactly the thing that caused Microsoft to make changes in the past.   Right now I'm losing hope. I might stay on 8 once I get my Surface 3. Sure as fuck won't upgrade if there's a crippled multitasking system.
  • It would be nice if they added a guesture to swipe directly to the other desktop with lets say two fingers from the left edge. Also, if swipe from left edge in tablet mode, does it automatically switch between apps the way it did in 8.1, or will it pull up the same "task view" that we've seen above? I like what i've seen in the video so far, but i think it could go a little bit more in the direction of touch friendly than it is currently. I think a mix of this, and the way it worked in 8.1 would be great!
  • MS have said they are working on the touch interface and it's not complete yet, but at this rate they'll still be working on it come release date. I'm really hoping they don't mess up the touch interface too, because the current builds of Win10 are clearly desktop OS builds (now with more desktops than ever before!) with a few touch features exposed. Clearly not really designed for full touch devices... yet?
  • Does it need to install fresh 10041 from iso to be able to get the 10049 build? I got error on downloading
  • There is also a gesture swipe for swiping between the desktops. Three fingers IIRC.
  • Interesting, but why an awkward 3? What's wrong with the one finger swipe? Is that used for something else now?
  • I have a question: Im an SP3 user. I have always liked to Auto Hide the Task Bar. Since like Win 7. As i have a touch device; how can i get my Full Screen experience with the Auto Hide feature, in a touch device? I know that there is a full screen mode as well. But what if i want the new start menu. With touch, and the Auto Hide feature.
  • Like how we put the cursor at the bottom and the task bar comes up, the same thing doesnt happen when i touch the bottom of the screen.
  • I don't know man. Maybe try swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
  • Yes I've tried that as well, doesnt work. Although the new Explorer (Which has its address bar at the bottom) Works great when i swipe from the bottom. They should've done the same thing for the Task Bar.
  • With Windows 8 you can hide the taskbar as with previous versions. To get to the task bar you touch the bottom edge of the screen. However, it isn't really optimised for that, so depending on where you touch it you could probably launch a program or function.
    I'm not sure if Windows 10 responds the same way or whether it has actually been optimized to react more elegantly like the charms bar. 
  • It doesnt launch the program even, cause it doesnt react when i keept touch or swiping the task bar. Anyways thanks for the input I do hope they do improve this in Win 10.
  • So, there still is a transparent taskbar?
  • GUYS I found something to do with the windows Hello Feature! If you search with Cortana "Bio" you get a setting that is titled "Set up fingerprint sign-in". Clicking it brings you to the "Sign in options" settings page with nothing new. Its only a matter of time, with this setting and the new "Bio Enrollment" app... Windows Hello might be just around the corner! (PS: I'm using the most recent Insider build in the fast lane)
  • Pin apps in taskbar showing in every virtual desktops is annoying option to turn off and make pin apps show only in virtual desktop 1.
  • >By swiping from the left side of the screen, I can see all the open apps and quickly switch as needed. Are you mocking Windows 8 or something? This feature is nothing new for Windows 8 touch users, except that it's now in the middle of the screen, lists ALL programs instead of just WinRT apps and is mandatory. Praising the touch multitasking system for Windows 10 on the front page of a popular Windows website, is one of the worst things that you could do. It sends the wrong message to Microsoft. It tells them that this is okay. Ask the touch users. Ask them if they like having their multitasking system downgraded for no reason. Many have already complained on this very website.   For anyone who doesn't know: Swiping from the left in Windows 8 is like pressing Alt+Tab, albeit only for WinRT apps. Swiping from the left and then, without letting go of the screen, swiping back out again, activates a view similar to Task View. Much better. Much more granular. Requires only one finger and can be done even while holding the tablet with a single hand.
  • I just tried the Swiping from the left and swiping again for the Task View. Didnt work. Tried it without letting go of the screen. SP3 User.
  • Virtual desktops would be great
  • What i dont like is that the taskbar is still shared over all desktops. So you so all apps from all desktops on the taskbar.
  • Meh.
  • It would be better if they provide different instances of a software in different desktop. For e.g- If i have opened ie in one desktop, then in another desktop, it should open another instance of ie. What do you all say?
  • That would be totally killer! I'm going to put that into the feedback app!
  • Virtual desktops is good but you only have one processor which could even be a quad core which to me may slow things down. What I am thinking is why don't Microsoft bring and extention to Azure to the desktop OS or even to the OS in general allowing to offload for processing in the cloud  if we don't have the on-board processing to execute the jobs. This to me would even work on a phone or tablet which can easily be stressed for processing.
  • Problem with cloud processing on a phone is data. Cellular data unfortunately isn't as cheap as it should be, in fact, it's a ripoff.  
  • I can keep things organized with multiple desktops, I'm courious if this is an enhanced version of the task manager ?
  • Why wait for the Windows 10 if you can get the same function on the current Windows 7/8 system?
    For this i use Actual Window Manager 8.3, it has some Windows 10 features like a Snap Assist, Search button on taskbar, Virtual Desktops and many other very helpful tools for everyday work.
    In addition, this program allows you to customize each virtual desktop . I think it’s brilliant!
    Here is a link
  • "" You can quickly switch between virtual desktops by pressing
    Win + Ctrl + Left or Right. "" just what i was looking for :)