How To Use Linux Style Virtual Workspaces In Windows 10

Linux Style Virtual Desktops In Windows 10
Linux Style Virtual Desktops In Windows 10.

Windows 10 is incorporating many features that have been purely used by Linux over the years.

Recently, Windows 10 added a feature which allows users to use a bash shell to navigate around the file system by implementing a core version of Ubuntu.

Windows also introduced the concept of the Windows store and more recently there has been the concept of package management.

This was a new direction for Microsoft to be taking and an admission that some of the features of Linux are well worth implementing as part of the Windows ecosystem.

Another new feature to Windows 10 was the ability to use virtual workspaces. Linux users have had this feature for a number of years as most desktop environments used by Linux distributions implement them in one way or another.

In this guide, we are going to show you how to use the Windows 10 version of workspaces so that when you find yourself away from your Linux desktop and stuck on a Windows 10 computer you can feel at home.

You will find out how to bring up the task view window, create new virtual desktops, move between desktops, delete desktops and move applications between desktops.

What Are Virtual Workspaces?

A workspace lets you run different applications on different versions of the desktop. 

Imagine you are running 10 applications on your machine, for example, Word, Excel, Outlook, SQL Server, Notepad, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, Notepad and the Windows store.

Having all of those programs open on one desktop makes it hard to switch between them and requires lots of alt-tabbing.

By using virtual desktops you can move Word and Excel to one desktop, outlook to another, SQL Server to a third, and so on with the other applications.

You can now easily switch between the applications on one desktop and there is more space on the desktop.

You can also easily switch between workspaces to view the other applications.

Viewing Workspaces

There is an icon on the taskbar next to the search bar which looks like a horizontal box going behind a vertical box. You can bring up the same view by pressing the Windows key on your computer and the tab key at the same time.

When you first click on this icon you will see all of your applications lined up on the screen. 

This screen is used for showing workspaces. You may also refer to workspaces as desktops or virtual desktops. They all mean the same thing. In Windows 10 this screen is known as the task view screen.

Lots of different terms, one meaning.

Create a Workspace

In the bottom right corner, you will see an option called "New Desktop". Click on this icon to add a new virtual desktop.

You can also add a new virtual desktop at any point by pressing the Windows key, CTRL key and "D" key at the same time.

Close a Workspace

To close a virtual desktop you can bring up the workspace view (click the workspace icon or press Windows and tab) and click the cross next to the virtual desktop you wish to delete. You can also press the Windows key, CTRL and F4 whilst on a virtual desktop to delete it.

If you delete a virtual desktop which has open applications then those applications will be moved to the nearest workspace to the left.

Switch Between Workspaces

You can move between virtual desktops or workspaces by clicking on the desktop you wish to move to in the bottom bar when the workspace view is displayed. You can also press the Windows key, CTRL key and either the left or right arrow at any point.

Move Applications Between Workspaces

You can move an application from one workspace to another.

Press the Windows key and tab key to bring up the workspaces and drag the application you wish to move to the virtual desktop you wish to move it to.

There doesn't appear to be a default keyboard shortcut for this yet.

Summary

For a number of years,​ Linux distributions have often emulated the Windows desktop. Distributions such as Zorin OS, Q4OS and the brazenly named Lindows designed to look and feel like Microsoft's premier operating system.

The tables appear to have turned somewhat and Microsoft is now borrowing features from the Linux desktop.