How to Fast-Switch to Your Windows Desktop

Use Windows key shortcuts to become a power user

With Windows 10, Microsoft has expanded the usefulness of keyboard shortcuts that rely on the Windows key. In general, Windows-key shortcuts govern tasks at the operating-system level, while shortcuts using the Control and Alternate keys usually work within the active application.

These instructions apply to Windows 10. Previous versions of Windows do not support virtual desktops managed by the operating system.

Windows-D keyboard shortcut on Windows PC
 Lifewire / Miguel Co

How to Display and Hide the Desktop

Use the Win+D shortcut to display and hide the desktop.

When pressed on its own, this shortcut forces Windows to switch to the desktop immediately and minimize all the open windows to the taskbar. Use the same shortcut to bring back all those open windows. It acts like a toggle switch.

Virtual Desktops

Windows 10 includes virtual desktops, which offer more than one version of your desktop. Use them to separate home from work activities, for example. 

Pressing Win+Ctrl+D adds a new virtual desktop; each press creates a new virtual desktop. Pressing the Win+Ctrl plus the left and right arrow keys cycles through those virtual desktops.

Display the Task View to See All Virtual Desktops

Task View in Windows 10 showing virtual desktops

Pressing the Task View button on your toolbar opens a full-screen overlay that displays thumbnails of each virtual desktop as well as apps that support timeline history. This feature was new in the Windows 10 18.09 release.

When Task View is activated — the button looks like a little filmstrip, and its placed by default next to the Cortana icon on the taskbar — you can find apps and web pages you previously browsed, but you can also delete, move to, or add new virtual desktops.