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With the current situation around COVID-19, I, as many others, am working from home.

This brings with it certain adjustments that need to be dealt with, including technical adjustments.

When working from my office, I usually have three monitors, all hooked up to the same laptop, so that having multiple windows open on different screens allows for efficient usage of screen real estate. At home, however, I only have my laptop - with it's screen, and no additional monitors.

Therefore, I am wondering:

Is there any way to make windows think that multiple monitors are connected to the laptop, and for it to display all these "virtual" monitors on one screen (the laptop screen)?

I realize this may cause issues with the aspect ratios/resolutions of the virtual monitors, but I am still interested in any possible solutions. A bonus would be if there is a way to display these virtual monitors without the need for installing additional software, as I do not have the rights to install software on this laptop.

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Yes and no. What you ask specifically is not possible. I can give you something similar, which might be sufficient, though.

Virtual monitors is not what you will get, but it is called virtual desktops. Windows 10 does have support for virtual desktops by using a button called Task View.

This button is located in the bottom left of your taskbar, next to start when enabled. To enable, right-click the task bar, and select Task View.

Once the button is visible, click it to bring up the taskview control panel. From here, you can create new desktops, and drag windows to their desktop. Once they live in their new desktop, you can use the taskview button to quickly switch between these desktops, which is essentially what you ask.

I believe you can also switch using WIN+ALT+left and right arrow, but not sure.

The only drawback with taskview, in compared to other virtual desktop managers, is that taskview will not remember your desktops after you reboot. For the time being, you may want to hibernate your pc instead of shutting it down.

Taskview is not that old yet and as such, is not as feature rich as one may wishes.

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  • Thanks for this. Does this also allow me to display both desktops at the same time on one monitor? – Chris Mar 26 at 17:16
  • No. You have one desktop at a time. – LPChip Mar 26 at 19:35
  • Unfortunately, it seems there is no real solution to do exactly what I am asking for. Therefore, if you update your answer to state that what I (OP) am looking for is currently not possible, and keep the rest of the answer indicating the possible use of Task View for some use cases, I can mark this as the answer :) – Chris Mar 27 at 12:37
  • @Chris done. ;) – LPChip Mar 27 at 13:14
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I don't know of any feature in Windows 10 that lets one screen act like multiple virtual monitors. You can display multiple windows on the screen at once, which might be an acceptable substitute (even better when combined with Virtual Desktops as @LPChip suggested). Try dragging a window to the side of the display and release it when you see a transparent overlay appear. The window should resize to fill half the screen. If you drag to a corner then the window will only fill the corner.

Keyboard shortcuts:

  • Windows + Left/Right Arrow will snap the window to the side of the monitor
  • Windows + Left/Right Arrow, then Windows + Up/Down arrow will snap the window to the corner of the screen.

Windows will move your other windows to the other half of the screen. If you click on one of those windows it will fill the other half of the screen. Hit the Esc key if you don't want to have a window fill the other half of the screen.

See this article from Microsoft (which basically says the same stuff as above).

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  • Hi Cactus. Thanks, but unfortunately in my use case, which involves Robotic Process Automation, I really need the behavior to be exactly the same as if there were actually two physical screens. – Chris Mar 27 at 12:34

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