Using multiple virtual desktops is a helpful way to stay organized when carrying out multiple tasks. It can also serve as a cheap alternative to having multiple monitors connected to one computer.
Virtual desktops are very common in Unix/Linux distributions, letting you divide up your work and switch between multiple desktops — serving as a cheap alternative to having multiple monitors. They are also popular with use on Windows systems.
Windows 10 is the first edition of the operating system to integrate virtual desktop functionality. However, the capabilities are limited to only creating and switching between virtual desktops. This is still a valuable tool but there are third-party software options that provide more features and customization managing virtual desktops.
In this article, we’ll cover how to create virtual desktops in Windows 10 natively, as well as virtual desktop software that offers more helpful features and customization.
How to Make More Desktops on Windows
Windows allows you to create an unlimited number of virtual desktops. Creating a virtual desktop on Windows 10 without third-party software only requires a few steps:
- First, select the Task View icon directly next to the Windows Search Box in the lower-left corner.
- Then click the + New Desktop button that appears in the top-left corner of your screen to create the new virtual desktop.
How to Switch Desktops on Windows
Switching between desktops also only requires a few steps:
- Clicking on the Task View icon next to the Windows Search Box again will show you all of the existing virtual desktops in thumbnails.
- Clicking on any one of the thumbnails will switch your view to that desktop.
Best Virtual Desktop Software
Third-party virtual desktop software offers customization beyond what Windows alone allows, such as setting individual wallpapers and assigning functionality to hotkeys. They also often allow for plugins that offer additional features.
Here is our list of the best virtual desktop software:
Dexpot is a feature-rich virtual desktop manager that offers up to 20 virtual desktops. It’s provided free for private use and is approximately $32 (or lower with multi-license discounts) for commercial use after a 30-day trial. It supports Windows OSes up to Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 with 64-bit support. Additional plug-ins can add enhancements, and it’s also available as a portable application.
Dexpot offers some neat features, like live thumbnail previews of the virtual desktops on the taskbar of Windows 7 and later. Additionally, you have the ability to right-click windows to move and copy them between virtual desktops and configure other settings for that particular window/program.
VirtuaWin is a free, open source project, distributed under the GNU General Public License. The base software program provides relatively simple functionality with up to four virtual desktops, but many modules allow you to add additional features. In addition to a regular Windows install, a portable version and support are also provided.
nSpaces is a fairly advanced virtual desktop manager offered for free for non-commercial users. It offers some of the same features as the previous solutions but also has a focus on security. nSpaces allows you to password-protect the virtual desktops, which can be useful if you share a Windows account with other users.
DeskSpace was the first virtual desktop software that came with 3D cube transition effects. At this time it was known as Yod’m 3D. This tool is available on 32 and 64-bit Windows platforms and offers customizable wallpapers, icons and titles of virtual desktops that can be accessed through the system tray menu.
DeskSpace may not be the most impressive option as far as features go but where it shines is its entertaining and aesthetically pleasing 3D transitions. Users can arrange six virtual desktops that are shown on each side of a 3D cube. Switching between desktops triggers an interesting transition of the cube moving position.
BetterDesktopTool is a highly-rated virtual desktop solution that allows for more than 20 virtual desktops. This tool uses a tiled window previews function where users can view all virtual desktops through the Windows & Desktop Overview tab.
A helpful feature for this software tool is Hot Edges. Moving the mouse cursor to the edge of the monitor screen allows you to seamlessly switch between desktops. Open browser and application windows can also be moved to other desktops by dragging them to the edge of the screen.