Windows

How do I put different wallpapers on each virtual desktop in Windows 10?

different wallpapers on each virtual desktop
It's easy to create virtual desktops - changing their names and wallpaper is another matter

I’ve always loved the idea of virtual desktops. Have one for the fun things in life, another for work, another for presentations. Until the latest Windows 10 update, though, they’ve been hidden away. Now, I’m determined to use them. But the first thing I wanted to do was put different wallpapers on each virtual desktop. Here’s how to do it.

I’ll get the basics out of the way first. If you want to create a new virtual desktop in Windows 10, you click the icon that looks like a ladder that sits next to the search box on the taskbar. It’s called the Task View.

create new virtual desktop windows 10
Press the Task View button (next to the search bar) and you’ll get the option to create a new desktop

This will bring up all your active windows, but also offers a “Create desktop” option at the top left. Click this to create your new virtual desktop, and then you can switch between them by hitting Task View.

Name and change virtual desktop wallpapers in Windows 10: Download time

Annoyingly, there’s no built-in way to change the name of each virtual desktop within Windows 10. Nor can you use different wallpapers by default. But there is an answer, and it’s all thanks to a third-party program called Windows 10 Virtual Desktop Enhancer.

You can install this using the excellent AutoHotkey. but developer Sergio Dias also supplies a downloadable EXE file so that it runs on its own. Head to the download page and select the Zip file.

Extract the Zip to a folder of your choosing. You’ll see two files of particular interest: settings.ini (although the .ini may not show in the final name) and virtual-desktop-enhancer.exe. The latter is easily spotted because it has a green square icon with H in the middle.

Double-click the virtual-desktop-enhancer.exe file. Nothing much will happen, but you’ll now find a black icon in the taskbar with 1 in the middle.

Rename virtual desktop names in Windows 10

Now double-click the settings.ini file. It will open in Notepad, offering a whole range of settings to play with. You can see what they all do at the Virtual Desktop Enhancer docs page.

Here, I’m just interested in changing the name of Desktop 1 to Work and Desktop 2 to Play.

change names of windows 10 virtual desktopsScroll down the Notepad file until you see [DesktopNames]. By default, they’re all left blank. As you can see from the screenshot, I’ve renamed them to Work and Play.

Close the file, then head down to the black 1 icon in the taskbar. Right-click it and select “Reload settings”. This will then apply the settings you’ve just changed.

Annoyingly, if you press the Task View then Windows 10 will still call them Desktop 1, Desktop 2 etc. I haven’t found a way to change that.

Change virtual desktop wallpapers in Windows 10

Let’s now change the virtual desktop wallpapers in our different wallpapers. Open up the settings file again, then scroll down to the [Wallpapers] section.

change wallpapers in windows 10 virtual desktopsThis is easy to understand: point to the picture file you want to act as your backdrop. Note that if you want to use existing wallpapers they’re likely to be in C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper\.

Again, the Task View is a bit annoying. I really want it to show me the different wallpapers so I can identify and jump to different virtual desktops by sight. Instead, it previews each virtual desktop with the current wallpaper. Stupid Windows.

Windows 10 Virtual Desktop Enhancer

There are a couple of other neat things about Virtual Desktop Enhancer. One is that, if you’re using a mouse, then flicking the scroll wheel while on the taskbar takes you to the next virtual desktop. (Note the screen can glitch, which is irritating.)

Another is that it’s hugely customisable. Want to automatically run Excel when you flick to virtual desktop 3? No problem, just add it in the settings.

You’ll probably want to ensure it loads when you launch Windows, though. Rather than duplicate the advice on how to do this, head to this AutoStart section of the Virtual Desktop Enhancer resource page.

More Windows 10 articles you might like

How do I get the latest Windows 10 update?

What can I do if Windows 10 won’t boot after an update?

How do I get photos from my phone or camera onto my Windows 10 PC?

How can you share Windows 10 laptops’ internet co

 

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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