Manage windows and virtual desktops in Windows 10

I personally love how Windows 10 improved on managing windows compared to Windows 7 and 8/8.1. Here are a few tips that people who work with many open windows will find helpful.

Virtual desktops

Is your current desktop cluttered with too many windows? What if I told you you could have more than one desktop and organize them however you want? For example, if you’re writing a report, you can have Word opened on your first virtual desktop, your browser on the second, and your MP3 player on the third. Useful, isn’t it?

Win + Tab: Show virtual desktops

Pressing Win + Tab will show all the currently open virtual desktops. You can switch between them by clicking on them and also move windows to another desktop by dragging them to the desired destination. Closing a virtual desktop will move all open windows (if any) to the previous desktop.

Ctrl + Win + D: Create a new virtual desktop

This keyboard shortcut will create a new virtual desktop.

Ctrl + Win + Left/Right: Previous/next virtual desktop

This combination will cycle through all the current virtual desktops.

Ctrl + Win + F4: Close the current virtual desktop

Press this combination of keys to close the currently open virtual desktop and move all open windows to the previous. This won’t work if you only have one open desktop.

Unfortunately, there is no keyboard shortcut to move windows between virtual desktops.

Window snapping

Dragging a window to the corners of the screen and releasing the left mouse button will snap it to that quarter. Dragging it to the top middle will maximize it, whereas dragging it to the right or left middle will arrange it to that side of the screen.

Alternatively, you can use Win + arrow keys to arrange them without the mouse. Experiment to find an arrangement that satisfies you. I personally like having the browser and the window I’m working on side by side, but the possibilities are endless.

Scroll content without clicking the window

I really swear by this new functionality. If you’re used to the Unix world, you will know that in those operating system the default behaviour of the mouse is that focus follows the mouse instead of having to click to focus. Previous versions of Windows only allowed to click to focus, but Windows 10 changes this behaviour to make it identical to that of Unix operating systems. What this means in practical terms is that you can hover your mouse pointer to a window and use┬áthe scroll wheel to move up or down without having to click the other window. It may seem trivial, but it’s a real time saver!

Full screen Command Prompt

Those who have to work extensively with the Command Prompt or PowerShell may want to make it fullscreen by pressing Alt + Enter. I suggest you devote a virtual desktop to the command prompt or PowerShell, because full screen mode will cover the task bar.

About Andrea Luciano Damico 137 Articles

Andrea Luciano Damico is a freelance translator from Italy. Among his interests are linguistics, technology, video games, and generally being a chill guy.
He runs Let’s Translate.it and Tech4Freelancers.net.

  • Scott Gartner

    Several times now (in the last couple of years) I’ve accidentally done some magic keystroke that either sends a window to another desktop or something. The window that I was looking at either just disappears (but is still running) or all the other windows disappear and I’m left with only the one I was on. It has something to do with the left and right arrows, possibly only on the keypad (I never turn numlock on, so the keypad is always arrows).

    When it happens I’m left with few options. There is no command (or utility, that I know of) that will force all open windows to come into view (I can’t believe this hasn’t been implemented in all this time). For applications with a lot of windows (like Chrome or Firefox) shutting it down and restarting it will bring the windows back to the current desktop, but for others like command prompts there is simply no way to find them again (they don’t show up on the “Task View” at all).

    Any thoughts would be appreciated (I’m running the latest Windows 10 release, but this has happened several times, so existed on previous builds).