Back in November of 2014, using Build 9860 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, I took a look at an early version of Task View, the operating system's built-in virtual desktop feature. Since that time, Microsoft has made multiple improvements to how Task View works and looks. As such, I thought I would revisit this feature.
It's important to bear in mind that while Task View is pretty slick in the current Build of 10074, chances are good that it will still undergo some changes before the final release of the Windows 10 operating system this summer.
While the name most commonly applied to this type of feature is virtual desktop, for the preview program anyway, Microsoft decided to go to the root of the purpose of this tool for its name: Task View. While the tool does indeed provide you with a way to create and use multiple virtual desktops, what it's really used for is to allow you to spread out the tasks that you're working on.
For example, having multiple desktops will allow you to distribute the various projects that you're working on, such that on each desktop you can have the applications and documents pertaining to a particular task. When you need to jump from one task to another, you just switch desktops. Then, when you're ready to go back to your previous task, you just switch back to that desktop, and everything that you were working with is right there on the screen waiting for you—no minimizing and maximizing windows to get back to work. It's a very efficient system, and it definitely allows you to be more organized.
Of course, Microsoft could rename this feature before the final release of Windows 10.
Task View has a button on the Taskbar, right next to Cortana (Figure A). When you hover over it, the button has an animated expansion that indicates multiple desktops. However, if you prefer to reserve space on the Taskbar for other icons, you can remove the Task View button and access it with a keyboard shortcut.
The Task View button appears on the Taskbar, but it can be removed.
To remove the button, just right-click on the Taskbar and select the Show Task View button option to remove the check mark. You can then access the Task View user interface using the [Windows]+[Tab] keyboard shortcut.
Working with multiple desktops
When you have multiple applications open on your desktop and want to spread them out, you access the Task View user interface, and click the New desktop button (Figure B).
Creating new desktops is easy.
You'll then see a thumbnail preview of the new desktop (labeled Desktop 2) alongside the current desktop (labeled Desktop 1) in the user interface (Figure C).
The new desktop will immediately appear as a thumbnail in the Task View user interface.
Now, if you select Desktop 1 and access the Task View user interface, you can move an application from Desktop 1 to Desktop 2 using drag-and-drop (Figure D). You can then click the Desktop 2 thumbnail and access your application on the new desktop.
You can move applications from one desktop to another using drag and drop.
You can still move an application from Desktop 1 to Desktop 2 using a command. Just right-click on the thumbnail of the application that you want to move and select the Move to | Desktop 2 command from the context menu.
By default, each desktop has its own Taskbar that displays only those applications that are on that desktop. Using the [Alt]+[Tab] keyboard shortcut will only cycle through the applications on that desktop. However, you can change that behavior if you wish from Settings. On the Multitasking tab in the Virtual desktops section (Figure E), you can select All desktops.
You can change the way that you see and access applications on multiple desktops in the Settings tool.
When you do, all open applications will show on every desktop's Taskbar, and using the [Alt]+[Tab] keyboard shortcut will cycle through all applications from all the desktops.
What's your take?
Again, keep in mind that while the Task View feature seems pretty solid, there's a good chance that there will be some changes yet to come—additional options may be added and names could change. I'll cover this feature in more detail once Windows 10 is released. In the meantime, share your opinion about Task View in the discussion thread below.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.