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Get to the task with Windows 10’s Task View and Aero Snap

how to use task view and aero snap in windows
Michael Crider/Digital Trends

For weddings you’re supposed to have something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Strangely, Microsoft seems to have taken this advice to heart for the latest version of its desktop operating system. Windows 10 has something old (Aero Snap has been around since Vista), something new (Task View), something borrowed (Task View takes a lot of inspiration from the Exposé feature in older versions of Mac OS X) and something blue (the default wallpaper).

Aero Snap fills the same purpose it has since Windows Vista. it’s an easy way to display multiple windows on your desktop at the same time. Task View is a quick way to see every window on your desktop at once, and then quickly select the one you want to work with.

Windows Aero Snap

AeroSnap (sometimes shortened to “Snap” in later Windows documentation) allows you to quickly resize the window you’re currently using, specifically for the purpose of maximizing it, minimizing it, setting it up exactly half the screen, or minimizing all of the other open programs and windows. Most of these functions are available using either the mouse/touchscreen or the keyboard, with some being restricted to each.

snap down

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To see what Aero Snap can do, start with a maximized window (click the maximize button, just to the left of the close button on the upper-right). To re-size the window into a smaller version, click and drag the window bar away from the top of the screen and then release it. Alternately, press the Win button on your keyboard and the down arrow (Win + Down) at the same time.

Now press Win + Down again. The window minimizes to the taskbar. This function isn’t available using just the mouse — simply click the minimize button in the upper-right corner instead. To bring the window back into focus, press Win + Up. From here you can press Win + Up again, or click and drag the window bar to the top of the screen. You’ll see a transparent rectangle indicating that Aero Snap is active. Release the mouse button and the window will be maximized again.

snap up

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Aero Snap is great for multitasking. Grab the window bar again, but this time drag it to the right border of your screen. Notice the same rectangular animation, but this time it only occupies half of the screen. Release the mouse button to set the window at full height, but only half of the horizontal space of the screen. You can do the same thing with Win + Right on your keyboard. From here you can set a second window on the left side of the screen with the same process (Win + Left). If you press Win + Right on the active window while it’s in the left position, or simply drag the window bar away, it will return to its open but un-maximized position.

snap right

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Note: When using Aero Snap with multiple monitors, the maximize gesture works on all screens, but dragging the screen to the left or right border will only work on the left or right screen, respectively. The Win + Left/Right keyboard commands will work on any screen. Dragging a maximized window from one screen to another will leave it maximized on the latter screen.

Lastly: If you want to minimize all the windows to the taskbar except the one you’re currently using, click or tap the window bar, then shake it quickly to the left and right. All the other windows will be instantly minimized.

Windows Task View

By default, Windows 10 has the Task View button enabled on the taskbar, to the right of the Search button. (If you don’t see it, right-click the taskbar, then click “Show Task View button.”) You can also activate Task View by pressing Win + Tab on your keyboard. This keyboard shortcut will work whether or not the Task View button is currently visible.

task view click

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When Task View launches, it will show you all of the windows on your desktop, whether they’re minimized or maximized. If you’re using multiple monitors, the windows on each monitor will appear grouped on each screen. Click on any window to bring it to the front and make it active.

Virtual Desktops

Task View is also where you access Windows 10’s new virtual desktop feature. Click “new desktop” in the bottom right corner to create a new virtual desktop. Windows opened on this desktop won’t be visible on the first one. Multiple desktops are a great way to separate tasks — you can use one for work items and one for personal stuff. You can create dozens of virtual desktops, but you probably won’t need more than two or three, and they become difficult to manage if you have too many.

multiple desktop

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To close a virtual desktop, just click the “X” button above it in Task View. You can also create a new virtual desktop with the keyboard shortcut Win + Ctrl + D, or close the current one with Win + Ctrl + F4. To switch between virtual desktops (in the same order as on the Task View bar) press Win + Ctrl + Left or Right.

move window

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To move an open window from one virtual desktop to another, open Task View with the button or Win + Tab command, then click and drag one of the small window icons to another desktop in the row at the bottom of the screen.

AeroSnap + Task View for easy multitasking

multitasking

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When checking out the AeroSnap feature above, you might have noticed that the Task View automatically appears when you snap a window to the right or left side of the screen. This automatic Task View only lasts until you make another click, then disappears. If you click any of the window icons in Task View immediately after snapping another window, it will automatically fill the space on the opposite side of the screen. It’s a great way to quickly compare the contents of two windows at the same time.

Related: Windows 10 review and release coverage