How to: manage running programs and virtual desktops using Task View in Windows 10

Technical Level : Basic

Summary

Windows 10 includes exciting improvements for power users. One such feature is Task View, a new way to manage your running programs using Virtual Desktops. The concept of Virtual Desktops have been around for many years on alternative platforms. Windows itself has included functionality through its many revisions for managing your apps. If you go back as far as Windows 3x releases, Windows included Task List which required using the Control Alt Delete command to present a dialog for switching between applications. In these earlier versions of Windows, the Desktop was a common way to do multi-tasking. With the release of Windows 95 which introduced the Taskbar, a better approach to managing applications became available. Since then, Windows has included enhancements to Alt-Tab and functionality such as Live Tiles introduced in Windows 7. In this article, we take a look at how you can be even more productive with Task View.

Below I have a standard Windows 10 desktop with a couple applications open, Wordpad and Photos app. If I need to run another application, I can launch it and manage switching between each program using the Taskbar. Of course, this introduces a problem of having multiple applications triggering on screen clutter.


Details

Below I have a standard Windows 10 desktop with a couple applications open, Microsoft Word and a few other application. If I need to run another application, I can launch it and manage switching between each program using the Taskbar. Of course, this introduces a problem of having multiple applications triggering on screen clutter.

Cluttered desktop?

With Task View, I can simplify management of my running programs by adding another desktop. This is especially great for persons who only have one display monitor. To activate Task View, click the icon on the Taskbar.

Create a new Desktop

When Task View is activated, you have the option of creating a new desktop. If you already have an existing desktop, you can add your running application to that desktop. When you activate Task View for the first time, you will have to create a new desktop, so we will do that. Click New desktop.

As you can see, we now have a blank desktop created (in my case, its called Desktop 4). We can do several things with it, we can launch a new application or put an existing running program there.

Add programs to a Virtual Desktop

I noted earlier the issue of having a cluttered desktop with multiple programs running. Lets add one of our programs from the first desktop to our new desktop. Start by activating Task view and select the desktop where the programs are running.

When Task View is activated on the desktop with your running programs, miniature copies of your programs are created. You can move a program to a desktop using either drag and drop or right click the program and move it to that desktop.

Move app - In the above screenshot, I want to move the Photos app. To do so, right click the app and click Move to then choose the desktop where you want to store the program. Note you can crew a New Desktop on the fly using this method.

Drag and drop - Simply select the miniature copy of the program using the left mouse button and drag it to the desired desktop then release.

Close open programs or Desktops on the fly

Another great benefit of Virtual desktops is the ability to manage them. For instance, if you have finished using one desktop or a program from one of the desktops, you can close it on the fly without leaving the active desktop you are in. Lets take a look at doing that.

Activate Task View, then hover the mouse pointer over the desktop you want to close or close a running program.

Running programs from multiple desktops are automatically moved to your first desktop.

Once it is activated, simply click the close button on the Virtual Desktop or the app running in the Virtual Desktop. Please note that running programs will be shifted to the first desktop when you close a desktop.

Notes: Virtual desktops are app centric, so when you launch an app in a Virtual Desktop, active applications in other Virtual Desktops will not be accessible from within that desktop. You will need to activate Task View to switch to those programs.

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No end to frustration because Task View/Desktops is virtually useless on my dektop with Win 10 Home 1511.

Each new desktop created is the exact mirror of the previous desktop.  There is no Move function available to move items from one desktop to another.

If I delete an item from Desktop 3 that item is deleted from Desktops 1 and 2 also.

IE:  Virtual Desktops is inoperable.

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Is there a way to close all the programs on the Task View all at once?

Hendre Botes

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I have some questions.

1. Why can't I use a different wallpaper for each desktop?

2. Why can't I close all the programs from a desktop in the same desktop? This question can be rephrased this way: why can't I simply put icons of the programs I use in each desktop instead of the same programs opened? Windows takes a way too long time to shut down closing all the programs in all the desktops.

3. Why can't I give a name to each desktop?

4. Why can't you input other ways of displaying the desktops, such as a 3D cube or a 3D cercle?

Trying to answer and finding the solutions for these questions would make out of this feature one of the best virtual desktops there is.

I like WX. When I first installed it, I put it on double boot with W7, because of my old multifunction printer for which I can't find a driver in WX. And because I feared some possible fails in WX. The result was that, a few days later, I migrated entirely on WX, and now I switch on W7 only to scan documents. WX is beautiful and stable, I never had installing or updating problems. And I want it to be perfect. That's why I think that improving virtual desktop feature is a must for the next build. And for the aniversary edition would be perfect.

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No end to frustration because Task View/Desktops is virtually useless on my dektop with Win 10 Home 1511.

Each new desktop created is the exact mirror of the previous desktop.  There is no Move function available to move items from one desktop to another.

If I delete an item from Desktop 3 that item is deleted from Desktops 1 and 2 also.

IE:  Virtual Desktops is inoperable.

Amen! I didn't ask for the virtual desktop, but somehow by some unintended keystroke I got it and stuff made on a virtual desktop was staying there and NOT to be found on my primary desktop where I needed it to be. Sp far the instructions to close it and have all the stuff there revert to my actual desktop have not worked, and no one has said how to keep Virtual Desktops from being accidentally called into play again. Someone surely likes this option, but for me it's an unwanted pest that has complicated/interfered with my day to day use. Microsoft developers should read the paperback meant for developers, it's called "Who Moved My Cheese." At AOL C.O.O. Bob Pittman (creator of MTV, et al) bought the books and distributed them to programmers and their management as a mandatory read. He also sent a pending release of AOL previewed to him back into development because they had moved the cheese.

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I must have activated Task View by mistake a while back and thought I crashed...no New Desktop bottom right of screen to click ?????!! 

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I AGREE !!!

I have been using Apple OS X since 2007 and they have supported multiple monitors and virtual desktops for what seems to be at least a decade.

Microsoft, … !!! Come on! Catchup to what your competitor is doing!!

The behavior / use-cases I would like to see in Windows 10 is the following:

1. Support multiple monitors and allow them to be independent ( so the current monitor labelled (1) can be swapped with the second monitor, labelled (2), and so on for two-; three-; four-; … monitors

2. Each monitor should each support the same number of virtual desktops to some limit ( like 10 min. or what appears to be a limit with Apple of around 18 virtual desktops per monitor );

3. Items in each monitor should be able to click-drag from one to the other ( when no virtual desktops are running ), based on a Settings / Display / Configuration / ...

In other words, you setup with  item 1. above the position of each monitor in reference to the other monitor(s); e.g. Monitor 1 is left of monitor 2; monitor 1 is 36" in diag. and monitor 2 is a laptop and 18" diag. and to the right and below the monitor 1

You can drag monitors back and forward to switch L to R ( Left to Right ) and up and down to adjust for how monitors abut each other.

4. Each monitor can be independent in terms of UI objects on it from other monitors ( so you can have one desktop with the icons, windows and background desktop be independent of the icons, windows and desktop background of the other

5. For virtual desktops, item 4. applies too, as it should from a usability perspective of object independence and user-expectations of a desktop metaphor

6. To navigate with virtual desktops, you can use mouse, keyboard short-cuts, or menu-bar approaches to move around a v-desktop and between them

7. The navigation with virtual desktops means you see an 'Executive Summary' view of all the objects and can drag a sub-set of them from one v-desktop within a physical monitor and between multiple physical monitors to another v-desktop, independently. By independently, if I drag a Microsoft Word window from v-desktop 1 / monitor 1 to v-desktop 2 / monitor 1 and touch nothing on monitor 2, where I was on v-desktop 3, … my expected behavior would be that I then click on v-desktop 2 / M1 Word window and I am moved to that v-desktop / M1; and yet my second monitor ( M2 ) remains on v-desktop 3!!!

That will do for now.

Again, check out Apple's iMac or MacBook OSX implementation of multiple monitors ( you guys should go beyond two monitors as a baseline to 4, 6 and 8 as increasingly monitors are $200 for a $2000 laptop / desktop fully loaded with RAM, Hard Disk, OS, Apps, … ) and virtual desktops and do it as well, or better than Apple. INNOVATE !!!

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Last updated April 18, 2021 Views 26,573 Applies to: