How to switch desktops when Hyper V steals your focus

I currently run Windows 10 as my main OS, yet I often run Windows 8.1 in a virtual machine under Hyper V to work on a project no longer supported in Windows 10. This is quite practical now that multiple desktops are supported out of the box: I typically run Windows 8.1 in full screen on a separate desktop, so it does not interfere with my other desktop(s).

Tip: In Windows 10, press the Windows key + Ctrl + D to create and switch to a new desktop. Hold down Ctrl and the Windows button while pressing the right or left arrow to switch between desktops. You can also use win + Tab, and click the desktop-icons at the bottom of the screen to switch between them.

One thing I found annoying was the difficulty of switching away from Hyper V and Windows 8.1, since the virtual machine will typically steal the focus. I’ve found a relatively simple solution now though: When the focus is in Hyper V, Ctrl + Alt + Left arrow will move it out and into the outer context – in my case away from my virtual Windows 8.1 machine, and back out to Windows 10. This shortcut is probably not new, but I was unaware of it until recently.

In short:

  • To move from a regular Windows 10 desktop and right into a full screen windows 8.1 desktop, I’ll use: Ctrl + Windows + arrow key.
  • To move back out from Windows 8.1, I’ll first press Ctrl + Alt + left arrow, followed by Ctrl + Windows + arrow key.

This may sound a little awkward, but I’ve found it surprisingly easy to get used to, and as far as I can tell, this appears to be the easiest way to escape from a VM.

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