submitted 2 months ago by [email protected] to c/nostupidquestions

In Windows 11 there's a button on the taskbar next to the start button that lets you switch between multiple desktop environments. It seems like something that would probably be useful in theory, but I can't think of any reason why I would want to use it. Is it actually useful? What do people use it for?

top 50 comments
sorted by: hot top controversial new old
[-] TheBananaKing 28 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

Desktop 1: WFH environment - mail, terminal, ticket queue etc.

Desktop 2: Me-stuff - lemmy, gmail, youtube, netflix, steam.

[-] [email protected] 5 points 2 months ago

Why not just have all of that open on one desktop? Is it because you want your personal stuff to be hidden in case you need to share your screen?

[-] TheBananaKing 1 points 2 months ago

It's a nice seapration of concerns. All the taskbar icons only show in their respective space, so I can keep my mind off work when I'm not working, and vice-versa, and there's less general clutter to sort through.

load more comments (1 replies)
[-] [email protected] 22 points 2 months ago

It’s a feature that Microsoft was very late to rip off from other platforms. I’ve been using it in different Linux/UNIX graphical environments for ages.

You can think about it as a way to organize your windows by splitting them into groups. If you work on multiple things and require to have many windows opened simultaneously, you can make your desktop less cluttered. You can then switch between the desktop by swiping laptop touchpad (with 3 or 4 fingers), or hitting some keyboard combo.

I also use them kind of instead traditional task switcher. I’ve got one browser window maximized on workspace 1, fullscreen terminal on 2, mail and messengers on 3, even more apps on 4. It’s like multi monitor functionality with just one screen.

[-] fuster93 20 points 2 months ago

I've had cases where a game crashed and I couldn't open any other window including the task manager. I could alt tab to it, but when I try opening it it would instantly revert back to the crashed game. But if you move task manager to another desktop and switch to that desktop, you can force close the crashed game. Pretty much a fringe case and I've never found another reason to use this feature personally.

[-] whostosay 5 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

I had this exact experience less than two weeks ago.

[-] RisingSwell 2 points 2 months ago

I have task manager forced front, so even if my game shits the bed the task manager will always appear in front of it.

[-] JusticeForPorygon 1 points 2 months ago

Oh my God please tell me how to do this

Modded Minecraft frequently shits bricks.

[-] XeroxCool 1 points 2 months ago

Open task manager

Top bar, Options, click Always on Top

[-] sploosh 0 points 2 months ago

If you don't want shit bricks why did you mod Minecraft?

[-] JusticeForPorygon 1 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

Because chance cube

Edit: I wooooshed myself

[-] XeroxCool 1 points 2 months ago

Did you use Ctrl + Shift + Esc to directly open Task Manager? If so, you may get different results with Ctrl + Alt + Del and choosing it from the manager. C/S/E asks for the manager, C/A/D demands it. I can't promise the game won't still override it but a fun fact either way

[-] c0mbatbag3l 1 points 2 months ago

Ctrl-Shift-Esc for the win, love that shortcut. Right up there with Alt-Tab and Windows/Cmd-X

[-] [email protected] 15 points 2 months ago

This is something I actually use all the time. It helps to mentally separate the tasks I'm working on and keep things from getting cluttered. For example, if I'm editing audio on one desktop and preparing a 3D print on another, I can keep all those programs and files siloed into their own little workspace. I can also just stop working on either task at any point and just switch to a new clean desktop without losing my open programs and windows so I can just pop back into them later.

[-] slowwooderrunsdeep 15 points 2 months ago

I work as an engineer and I use it like a desktop for each project. Works very well when you need to work on more than one project at a time - all the programs, files, folders, browser tabs for one project are on one screen exactly where I left them, and exactly in the layout where I left off.

I also keep the first desktop as a HOME screen, where I have email, Teams, Zoom, and my timesheet program. If I need to talk to someone about a project while I work on it, I just pop that chat out into a new window and move it to the respective desktop.

The only limitation is that if you open something (like an Excel file) through Windows Explorer on desktop 1, but you have an instance of the program already running on desktop 3, it will jump around the desktops and open on the one where it's already open. I have no idea why, not all programs do that, but it's easy to move it to the correct place.

Also it's even more hand if you learn the keyboard shortcuts.

[-] HessiaNerd 6 points 2 months ago

I did something similar, but was annoyed by all the jumping around when opening excel or word or PDFs... Plus even just having a group of emails and an explorer window open on a couple desktops really starts to eat ram it seems. Forget about solid works in that situation.

If they allowed you to save desktops and fixed the jumping issues it might be useful.

Depot was so much better.

[-] slowwooderrunsdeep 1 points 2 months ago

So, if I used SolidWorks or AutoCAD more, it would be a different story. I do most of my work in Revit which is OK on using RAM. And I wish I could save desktops, that'd be cool.

What's Depot?

[-] HessiaNerd 1 points 2 months ago

Dexpot was a virtual desktop fir Windows that appears to be abandoned


[-] XeroxCool 2 points 2 months ago

Sounds like excel is still doing what it has done for a while. Even though windows can finally (again) treat excel instances separately in the task bar, clicking one brings up the single excel window containing all excel files open. So if I open a 2nd excel file, then x it out, the 1st file is on top now. This doesn't bug me when it's the browser or Adobe because those at least clearly present as tabbed items and, more importantly, can be broken out to different windows

[-] DharkStare 14 points 2 months ago

Another use I haven't seen mentioned is that it's good when you only have a single monitor. You can easily use shortcut keys to flip between the desktops. I could have my remote connection to another computer in one desktop and my local stuff in another and easily switch between the two.

[-] [email protected] 13 points 2 months ago

Nitpick: the proper term is "virtual desktop" or "workspace", as "desktop environment" is already a common term for the software composing the entire user interface.

I enjoy using this feature on any operating system since it lets me quickly scan through and declutter open windows, and place categories of windows in their own workspaces. I might have only productivity windows on one, and leisure and socials on another. It's especially effective if you learn the keyboard shortcuts for navigating inside and between workspaces. All this improves my productivity and keeps distractions away.

[-] [email protected] 12 points 2 months ago

When I was a university student I used this feature a lot (on Linux and macOS, I didn't use Windows which didn't have this feature yet then).

I usually had different things to do at any one time (homework for different courses) and put the stuff I needed to do for each of them on one desktop each, plus one for things unrelated to university work (forums, wikis, reddit, general browsing). That way I wasn't distracted by other stuff when working on one thing.

I hardly used the feature before and after that.

[-] BURN 11 points 2 months ago

I use this regularly on a laptop, but almost never on a desktop.

It’s really nice if you have multiple full screen apps you’re switching back and forth from them pretty regularly, ie IDE in one env, browser in another, both can be full screen and switched without minimizing the other.

Multi Monitor setups often solve the same problem.

[-] meekah 1 points 2 months ago

How is this different from just alt-tabbing to a different Fullscreen application?

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 months ago

Hmm spatial awareness? Left is code right is docs and if you have any other windows they don't break that?

[-] [email protected] 7 points 2 months ago

I'm a freelance consultant/trainer but I only have one computer, I use them to split my personal and client specific functions.

I actually use three desktops:

one for my "Normal" usage, so my personal e-mail, news, youtube, lemmy, netflix, etc. one for my gaming, I usually have up the game, notes, spreadsheets, streams, etc. one for my work, with client related websites, notes, code, file explorers, etc.

When I'm teaching I actually have a second user login for my computer that I switch over to. This is to prevent me accidentally sharing anything on my screen that I didn't intentionally prepare ahead of time. Especially things like accidentally showing my other client's files/notes, downloads/recent files, browser history/autocomplete, etc.

[-] [email protected] 7 points 2 months ago

Just putting out there use the Ctrl-Win-Left/Right shortcuts rather than the mouse, and you'll find much more convenience out of it. (Ctrl Alt left/right for many Linux desktops)

I use it all the time on Linux since forever, and with W11 at work...

It's to separate different uses, say have a gaming space, productivity space, background messaging/email/communication. You can shove anything that you'd want running but not in front of you away, while still being able to quickly access it.

At work I do multiple projects, so I can have Project A related folders and programs open on one workspace, with Project B stuff on another, letting me switch between. If someone calls me about project B while I was working on A, I can quickly switch over, rather than closing my current stuff, or just leaving it all open and fumbling with alt tab.

[-] [email protected] 7 points 2 months ago

Oh wow, windows is finally getting that feature? Nice. As a mac user this one of these "how the hell do you not have this" features that really baffled me.

I use them when I have to work on multiple projects at once (programming). Basically, I have a desktop per project with all the documents and programms open that I need for that project. It's very convenient.

[-] [email protected] 10 points 2 months ago

Windows 10 had it too. Win + Tab

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

I personally really like the way macOS handles multiple desktops and full-screen apps. Would love to recreate it in KDE.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

Just wait for Plasma 6.0, it’s already there available out-of-box (except auto creating new workspace for fullscreen window)

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

Windows 10 has had that for a few years now too, it was just less visible and a little clunkier.

[-] Nibodhika 7 points 2 months ago

Don't know how it's implemented on Windows, but I have been using and loving this feature for decades on Linux, it allows you to have several workspaces and assigning different shortcut, so for example regardless of where I'am, if I hit Super+1 I get taken straight to my browser, and Super+9 takes me to Spotify, no need to be alt+, tabbing until I get the window I'm looking for.

[-] SoggyBread 6 points 2 months ago

I use it at work to switch between my email+ticket desktop, my coding desktop+firefox, and my slacking off desktop. It makes it easy for me to organize things

[-] wildcardology 3 points 2 months ago

I'm on windows 10 and I use a tool called dexpot. It's the same function, multi desktop. In my home we only have one PC. 3 of us use it. Desktop 1 is my wife's, I'm on desktop 2, my daughter is on 3. Each desktop is personalized by the user.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

I run my game on one desktop... Swap quickly to the second desktop with Ctrl+win+right/left, open Firefox and Google whatever I need and then back into the game...

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

When I am comparing branches or working on multiple tickets at a time, separating each instance of my IDEs, as well as Jira tickets and Confluence documents related to the specific projects into their own little sandbox. This way I can more easily remember which windows and browser tabs go with each project.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 2 months ago

i'm on Linux and i use a grid of 20 desktops... on 2 screens. (so 40 desktops total) but generally it's a single window per desktop. i have tiling, so windows don't overlap with each other

[-] AgentGrimstone 3 points 2 months ago

If it's anything like Mac's, it's a cleaner way to jump between apps without having to constantly adjust your windows. While I work, I have a desktop for Photoshop, Illustrator, Chrome, and one for both Slack and Outlook.

[-] mysoulishome 2 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

It’s basically GoScreen which I didn’t learn about until recently…but I didn’t see some of the features I like about go screen.

I have 3 monitors and I get to the point I have projects open for estimating claims (fire and water damage) with estimating software, pictures, pdf diagrams and notepad files open. Then my phone rings and I go to a different mode…I want all of that exactly where I left it, and jump back to a second desktop with all of my other software open. (Phone, email, web browser etc) to do normal business.

If I didn’t have this I would never get these projects done because I would close everything and have to open it all to get back to the same place in my analysis and evaluation.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 2 months ago

Or you’d be buried by 300 layers of very similar open apps with different info loaded in each instance

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

I've never had a use for this, not even once. No clue who needs this.

[-] BURN 3 points 2 months ago

Laptop users

Really nice to have multiple workspaces when constrained to one, small screen

[-] wildcardology 1 points 2 months ago

For people who shares one PC.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 months ago* (last edited 2 months ago)

Isn't that what having different user accounts is for??

[-] wildcardology 1 points 2 months ago

For that you'll have to login in to each different user account and windows loading that account. Sometimes the current user has to close all his apps and logout. With Multi desktop it's instant one click or a key board shortcut and you're at the 2nd desktop.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 months ago

But then all your shit is open while another user is on.....using multiple accounts is the superior choice here.

[-] wildcardology 2 points 2 months ago

Sure, if you don't trust the other user. This would not be advisable in a work environment. But since the only user beside myself is my wife and daughter. I'm ok with it.

[-] Zippy 1 points 2 months ago

And if you collaborate with you ride it kids, ie share bookmarks etc, this is much easier then separate accounts and speeds up login requirements.

[-] Anamnesis -1 points 2 months ago

I had thought it'd be useful for separating two different types of task. Like one project is one desktop and the other is another. But nope, they're not properly siloed at all. Making changes in one often affects the other unexpectedly. It's a very dumb design that has little use as a result.

this post was submitted on 04 Dec 2023
50 points (91.7% liked)

No Stupid Questions

32787 readers
287 users here now

No such thing. Ask away!

!nostupidquestions is a community dedicated to being helpful and answering each others' questions on various topics.

The rules for posting and commenting, besides the rules defined here for lemmy.world, are as follows:

Rules (interactive)

Rule 1- All posts must be legitimate questions. All post titles must include a question.

All posts must be legitimate questions, and all post titles must include a question. Questions that are joke or trolling questions, memes, song lyrics as title, etc. are not allowed here. See Rule 6 for all exceptions.

Rule 2- Your question subject cannot be illegal or NSFW material.

Your question subject cannot be illegal or NSFW material. You will be warned first, banned second.

Rule 3- Do not seek mental, medical and professional help here.

Do not seek mental, medical and professional help here. Breaking this rule will not get you or your post removed, but it will put you at risk, and possibly in danger.

Rule 4- No self promotion or upvote-farming of any kind.

That's it.

Rule 5- No baiting or sealioning or promoting an agenda.

Questions which, instead of being of an innocuous nature, are specifically intended (based on reports and in the opinion of our crack moderation team) to bait users into ideological wars on charged political topics will be removed and the authors warned - or banned - depending on severity.

Rule 6- Regarding META posts and joke questions.

Provided it is about the community itself, you may post non-question posts using the [META] tag on your post title.

On fridays, you are allowed to post meme and troll questions, on the condition that it's in text format only, and conforms with our other rules. These posts MUST include the [NSQ Friday] tag in their title.

If you post a serious question on friday and are looking only for legitimate answers, then please include the [Serious] tag on your post. Irrelevant replies will then be removed by moderators.

Rule 7- You can't intentionally annoy, mock, or harass other members.

If you intentionally annoy, mock, harass, or discriminate against any individual member, you will be removed.

Likewise, if you are a member, sympathiser or a resemblant of a movement that is known to largely hate, mock, discriminate against, and/or want to take lives of a group of people, and you were provably vocal about your hate, then you will be banned on sight.

For further explanation, clarification and feedback about this rule, you may follow this link.

Rule 8- All comments should try to stay relevant to their parent content.

Rule 9- Reposts from other platforms are not allowed.

Let everyone have their own content.

Rule 10- Majority of bots aren't allowed to participate here.

Unless included in our Whitelist for Bots, your bot will not be allowed to participate in this community. To have your bot whitelisted, please contact the moderators for a short review.

Partnered Communities

You can view our partnered communities list by following this link. To partner with our community and be included, you are free to message the moderators or comment on a pinned post.

Community Moderation

For inquiry on becoming a moderator of this community, you may comment on the pinned post of the time, or simply shoot a message to the current moderators.

Matrix Chat Room

To find & join our chat room, log into fluffychat.im(or any other matrix client) and put #nostupidquestions:matrix.org on the search bar.


Our breathtaking icon was bestowed upon us by @Cevilia!

The greatest banner of all time: by @TheOneWithTheHair!

founded 8 months ago