Increase Productivity With Windows Virtual Desktops

Multitasking features that unleash Windows' fullest potential.

5 min. read

Overview

The Windows Task View is a feature that is under-utilized by a lot of people. To put it simply, it’s a multitasker’s heaven. Learn how to use Windows’ virtual desktops, and work will be done so much more faster. Work smarter; not harder.

Just like with anything unfamiliar that you want to incorporate it into your life, the struggle is going past the knowledge gap and building a habit through repetition. Fortunately, if you are not using virtual desktops right now, it shouldn’t take much time to absorb it into your habits. It is very easy to learn, and you will be so glad that you don’t have to burn that extra calorie to get your work done.

In this guide, I will teach you what this feature is, and include a few key-binds for you to absorb. Once you get used to it, it will be a godsend.

Virtual Desktop Example

Example of how you can switch between desktops and windows by pressing a few keys

Theory: How to improve your productivity and efficiency

You will notice that when you are on auto-pilot, you tend to work the fastest. It is also known as being in the zone. Being in the zone means using 90% of your brain power to achieve your task. Other unwanted things that takes some of your brain’s capacity will affect your work output. Here’s a list of things you should avoid (which is easier said than done):

  • people distracting you from work
  • procrastinating
  • day dreaming
  • running into problems

Regarding distractions

Did you know that it takes on average 23 minutes to re-focus on your task after you get distracted? To be a productive worker, you must minimize your distractions. If it helps, try taking a 5 minute break by walking around.

Practice: Applying simple keybinds into your life

Here are a few keybinds that you can apply into your everyday life:

  • Alt+Tab allows you to switch between any open application. This does not extend to other virtual desktops.
  • Alt+F4 closes the current window you are focused on.
  • Windows+Tab opens the Task View. This is where you can manage your virtual desktop and tabs.
  • Windows + Ctrl + D creates a new virtual desktop.
  • Windows + Ctrl + F4 closes the current virtual desktop you’re on.
  • Windows + Arrow Keys will position your window in whatever direction you press. Windows + Up/down arrow will toggle between 5 states. Full screen, window on top, window spanning across, window on bottom, and minimizing. You have to get used to this to see what I mean. Windows + Left/Right arrow will move your window to the left/right-most of each monitor. It can also make the application go from one monitor to another.
  • Windows + Ctrl + Left/Right Arrow Keys is the most useful keybind ever. It lets you switch between virtual desktops. This is really handy if you want to multitask, and it gives you extra “monitors” that you can use. It’s really if you want to switch between tasks like programming, art, streaming, web-browsing, messaging, and music.

Windows Task View

Windows Task View

The purpose of this panel is to make it so you can navigate through windows and desktops very easily. This also allows you to open any recent files that you have touched. To open up this panel, simply press Windows + Tab.

Windows Task View

Here is what the Task View looks like. It will look slightly different on every resolution.

Incorporating the keybinds into your workflow

After playing around with the keybinds, you will notice how fast you can switch between windows. A tip I have with learning something like this would be to force yourself to navigate Windows without using the mouse. At first, you will stare blankly at the screen trying to remember what to do, but later on it will turn into muscle memory.

Pro tip: If you are on the desktop, start typing out an application’s name and you can will be able to run it with Enter.

I like to rename my shortcuts such as Adobe Photoshop CC 20xx to Photoshop CC 20xx for this reason.