Quick Tip: Virtual Desktops for Windows and Mac

Virtual Desktops are a quick and easy way to expand your computer screen’s real estate letting you focus on what is important.  We do alot on our computers.  My primary Windows computer at work is usually rocking 10-15 applications at a time and gets cluttered.  This clutter affects productivity because it becomes hard to focus.  Write that MS Word document when Explorer is calling your name? Big MS Excel document drowned out by your email window? 

A Virtual Desktop is just that. It’s a portion of your computer’s memory dedicated to host another desktop environment.  You can segregate applications by function, need, or focus and quickly move back and forth between them.  Windows 10 recently (re)introduced this feature while Mac OS users have had it for years.  Here is a simple tip to get it up and running!

Windows 10 Virtual Desktops

Windows make it easy to create and use Virtual Desktops. To move apps between desktops you will need to use the Graphical Interface:

Via the Keyboard:

  • To add a desktop press “ + CTRL + D
  • To switch between desktops press “ + CTRL + LEFT or RIGHT
  • To remove a desktop press “” + CTRL + F4

Via the Graphical Interface (see gallery below):

  • Click the Virtual Desktop icon in the task bar at the bottom-left of the screen.
  • The management interface opens. To add a desktop click the “+” icon in the lower right of the screen.
  • Inside the interface you can select the desktop to use, delete desktops, and move applications between the desktops.

Open the Virtual Desktop Interface

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Click here to open the Virtual Desktop Interface.

Mac OSX Virtual Desktops

The Mac’s use of virtual desktops is tightly integrated into a feature called “Spaces.” If you don’t know it’s there you probably have never used it! 

To activate the interface, press the “F3” key on your keyboard (note older Macs or older keyboards may not have this key, use the key combo of “CTRL + UP“). You may also use a three finger “up swipe” to activate on a Magic Trackpad.

Mac F3 Key

The gallery below shows you how to add a new desktop “space.” Click the “+” icon to add it your environment.  Use can use this space to move between desktops, rearrange desktops, close desktops, and move applications between desktops.  If you use Apps in full-screen mode they will appear here as well.

To move between desktops you can also use the keyboard combo “CTRL + LEFT or RIGHT.” OR use the Mac’s gesture of swiping left or right with three fingers on a Magic Trackpad.

Press the "F3" key to open the interface

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The interface drops down from the top of the screen.

It’s that easy!

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