Five methods to improve virtual desktops in Windows 10

Microsoft’s efforts to make people use Windows 10 are not a secret.

In this article, we will explore the functionality of virtual desktops. This article provides an introductory introduction on how to use virtual desktops, so it will take your productivity to a new level. That’s why there are virtual desktops to improve productivity after all!

Finally, I hope you can understand why I believe the “Task View” feature is one of the more eye-catching reasons for switching to Windows 10. Therefore, it is not a matter of time, let’s get started.

  1. Using the “Current Desktop” indicator
    One of the biggest drawbacks of virtual desktops is that there is no obvious way to know which specific desktop you are currently using. For example, on Linux, most desktop environments have a tray indicator to display the desktop you are on.

Unfortunately, this type of indicator is not available locally, so now we need to use a simple indicator but an effective solution.

Go to the VirtualDesktopManager project on GitHub, click on Releases at the top, and then download the latest binary version from ZIP. (Please make sure not to confuse it with the source code ZIP!)

This is a portable application, so you don’t need to install it or anything – even if you can decompress it and run it immediately. We recommend moving it to a logical location, such as Program Files, and placing it in the VirtualDesktopManager folder.

At runtime, you will see a new icon in the system taskbar that indicates the virtual desktop you are currently using, which is

Professional tip: Create a file shortcut and paste it into your% APPDATA% \ Microsoft \ Windows \ Start Menu \ Programs \ Startup directory to start using VirtualDesktopManager every time you log in to Windows.

  1. Set a unique wallpaper for each desktop
    If the above system taskbar indicators are too subtle for you, you can try another solution: set each virtual desktop as a unique wallpaper. In this way, you can immediately view the running wallpaper.

Or win the best of both worlds and use both applications simultaneously.

Unfortunately, Microsoft does not support each individual wallpaper. Virtual desktop (okay?), so you need to use a third-party application to complete it.

Go to VirtualDesktop on CodeProject and download the demo file (other files are only source code). This is also a portable application, so there is no need to install it, but you need to create a free CodeProject account to download it.

At runtime, you can specify different wallpapers for each virtual desktop, and when it detects a switch between virtual desktops, it will change the wallpaper accordingly.

Professional tip: Use the instructions in Tip # 1 to create a startup shortcut so that there is a slight delay every time you start VirtualDesktop, so it’s also good.

Log in to Windows.

  1. Start directly on a specific desktop
    Another third-party application worth mentioning is VDesk on GitHub. This is a command-line utility with an optional “install” option, which actually adds a new item to the menu when you right-click on the file.

To obtain it, navigate to the “Publish” page at the top and download the latest EXE version.

After downloading, you can run VDesk from anywhere using the following command in the command prompt:

Vdesk [#] [application]
Therefore, for example, if you want to open Notepad, you can run the following command to start Notepad on the second desktop:

VDesk 2 notepad
If this number is omitted, it will launch on the new desktop:

Vdesk notepad
But this is a routine operation, so it is very troublesome, so we recommend using optional installation features to directly hook the utility to the context menu:

VDesk – install
Now, right-click on any file and you will see a new operation called Open in New Virtual Desktop, which has exactly the same functionality as described above. To get rid of it, simply run the opposite command:

Vdesk uninstall

  1. Understanding keyboard shortcuts
    Perhaps the simplest way to maximize work efficiency through virtual desktops is to simply learn keyboard shortcuts for adding, deleting, and switching between open desktops. It is faster and more convenient than using a mouse period.

We have previously discussed keyboard shortcuts for Virtual Desktop, but if you are not familiar with them, here is a quick overview:

Win+Ctrl+D: Create a new virtual desktop.
Win+Ctrl+F4: Close the current virtual desktop.
Win+Ctrl+Right: Switch to the next virtual desktop.
Win+Ctrl+Left: Switch to the previous virtual desktop.
Win+Tab:: Open the task view.
I personally don’t mind these shortcuts, but I’ve heard many users complain about their discomfort and/or intuition. If you describe yourself in this way, then you should consider installing VirtualDesktopManager (as indicated in prompt # 1).

With this application, you can also get two shortcut keys:

Ctrl+Alt+Left: Switch to the previous virtual desktop.
Sometimes it is not registered, possibly because another application is already using it. In this case, you can go to Settings and use other shortcuts:

Shift+Alt+Right: Switch to the next virtual desktop.
Shift+Alt+Left: Switch to the previous virtual desktop.
Anyway, these shortcuts are the best way to maximize desktop control. Ignoring them can harm your office productivity.

  1. Organize Desktop by Function
    The last tip also answered a common question, “Why do I use a virtual desktop anyway?” Even though this feature sounds cool, many people are unsure how to effectively use it. If this describes you, please continue reading.

A virtual desktop is not as beautiful as having multiple monitors, it allows you to view all desktops at once. Therefore, instead of using virtual desktops as a way to expand desktops, it is better to consider them as a way to expand desktops.

This is my method. Personally, I have set up a virtual desktop:

Desktop 1 is specifically designed for leisure: web browsing, video games, IRC, and instant messaging programs, among others.
Desktop 2 is specifically designed for utility programs: music applications like Spotify, email applications like Postbox, and other useful tools that I may want to run in the background.
Desktop 3>Dedicated for work: a separate browser that includes research tags, applications for taking notes and writing, etc.
At work, I always focus on Desktop3. All the distracting applications are on Desktop 1, so I am unlikely to slack off or waste time. After finishing my work, I switch to Desktop 1 so that I can easily relax.

Due to desktop 2 being located in the middle, I can only view one email screen or jump to another song. Also, don’t forget that applications will only appear as “active” in the taskbar when they are opened on the current desktop!

You don’t need to organize your desktop in exactly the same way, but I hope this will help you understand how to set it up in a way that increases productivity.

Make your life easier with virtual desktops
This will take about a week for daily use to truly adapt to the virtual desktop workflow, but once you overcome the initial troubles, you will want to know how you would live without them.

If you have not yet used Windows 10, there are several ways to obtain a virtual desktop on Windows XP, 7, and 8.

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