TUTORIAL: Show Other Applications and Whole Desktops in VR

Hi all,

Since I’ve been asked many times now to explain how to get applications like Navigraph, vPilot or whole Desktops to show up in your VR environment, I’ll try to explain it here in a little tutorial–and since I own a WMR headset (Reverb G1), I can only give support there. Suggestions and constructive criticism are always highly welcome btw.

First of all, you need to run your OpenXR runtime via SteamVR. Here’s how to achieve that:

  1. Get the “Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR” from the Steam app
  2. Make sure to enable the Beta branch as shown here (without this I’m getting terrible, terrible performance):
  3. Next, get the SteamVR application from Steam and activte the Beta branch as well:
  4. Last but not least, purchase (it’s roughly 10 bucks) the OVR Toolkit app from Steam:

And this is what I do before starting a flight in MSFS:
I usually launch the SteamVR app via Steam’s “LAUNCH” button as shown in Step 3. Then I put on the HMD for a couple of seconds and let it calibrate. NB: Starting SteamVR also launches the WMR app.

Next thing is to launch MSFS and create a flight. After it finished loading, I turn on the controllers and then launch OVR Toolkit via the Steam app. Then I hit CTRL+TAB, put on the HMD and grab the controllers–the Toolkit menu should be tied to your left hand. Please take a look at the video on this site to see how it works.

Some more comments from my side: In P3D, I usually had a couple of windows around me in my VR cockpit: The vPilot client, Navigraph, a PDF viewer for the checklist and the flight plan, and I was able to manipulate them by moving the mouse from my P3D desktop to another desktop where the respective app was shown. In MSFS, however, this doesn’t seem to work easily because the mouse pointer is obviously caught in the sim desktop. To be able to escape, I assigned ALT+TAB to a mouse button so that I can interact with the other applications. Currently, I’m just showing one whole desktop via OVR Toolkit because MSFS also likes to minimize other apps when in focus (it’s really annoying but I haven’t found a way around it, yet).

Also, don’t miss out the Toolkit option to hide windows when not looking at them, it’s really fancy.

Hope this helps some of you. Happy to answer your questions! :slight_smile:


EDIT: I reposition and resize the windows with the controllers only at the beginning of the flight, then I switch both controllers off as they’re not needed anymore.

EDIT2: I completely forgot to mention one important step: SteamVR must be set as OpenXR runtime in the settings, otherwise switching to VR in MSFS will just close the SteamVR client (sorry @Migganimon for not mentioning this in my OP initially):


Thanks for the tutorial. I am doing a similar thing also using OVR Toolkit. I use the grip button on my HP Reverb G2 controllers to move my OVR Toolkit windows around.

In X-Plane I use my Valve Index controllers with my G2 but have not got that to work in MSFS.

I Stream on Twitch so having my chat window in my VR cockpit is a must.

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OVR Toolkit has a free, from a price/quality point of view objectively better alternative called DesktopPlus :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Much thanks for this, just purchased the Toolkit and looking forward to having a go with it.

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“Objectively”…? :thinking:

No, seriously: From my perspective it lacks a lot of things OVR Toolkit has to offer, but that’s just my personal opinion ofc. :+1:t3:

Question: Does using the SteamVR runtime deliver similar performance to OpenXR? I’ve been avoiding running via steam for that reason, but I really really want my maps back.

Hopefully other people can chime in here with better news but for me personally, I’ve had degraded performance when using SteamVR’s runtime.

Although I can’t say got sure that my SteamVR SS rate is the same as my OpenXR render resolution setting. I find these pretty hard to match up since OpenXR is simply a percent and doesn’t actually give you the resolution.

Yea, this is my concern. AFAIK, SteamVR isn’t using some of the “extra frame” wizardry that we get with WMROXR.

It’s fine for now – between VFR map and quickly popping the gogs off to peek at foreflight on my iPad, it’s not too bad, and I’m sure we’ll have options in the near future.

Another thread mentioned that the developer for VR Kneeboard is working on getting it to work natively in WMR, that would really be an excellent solution as it’s already made for this use case.

For me there’s no big difference while using the “extra layer” SteamVR. However, you can always revert back if performance got worse.

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Oh I forgot to add the ‘From a price/quality point of view’ part

Did you try the beta versions as mentioned in the tutorial?

Yep, low risk to just try it out. I just try to self-discipline with a healthy ratio of “tinker time” to “flight time.” If I keep testing every little thing and never just enjoy it, I’ll burn out :slight_smile:

I’ll give SteamVR a whirl here soon and see how performance goes. It would be very nice to have all the functionality of OVR with the performance I’m seeing in OXR.


Exactly. Well, I need a new rig anyway, it’ll be a 5900X with the 3080 Ti; but from what I read so far, it seems as if even this hardware wouldn’t guarantee a stutter-free 30 fps at high-to-ultra settings. I don’t think the OVR Toolkit will make a big difference… :unamused:

It does: just select the OXR Dev Tools “Status” TAB. Otherwise, the OXR resolution corresponds to the Post-Process resolution displaying in the FS2020 Dev Mode FPS Window.

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There is a way to do this in the WMR portal without any additional software for those looking to avoid using the SteamVR layer, I just posted over here:

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Absolutely, I also described this method here.

However, this topic is about a much more sophisticated way, where users have a lot more options via the SteamVR layer.

I am using Open XR for WMR and am very pleased with this sim in VR.
I am new to it, but spent all day flying VFR in GA and had an absolute blast, and it was gorgeous in my Reverb G2 at 70% resolution and some pretty high graphics settings.
I purchased the OVR Toolkit today and look forward to having a go with it as well.

Does this work with the MS Store version of FS2020 or does the game need to be in Steam? When I launch FS2020 using this guide my SteamVR quits immediately.

■■■■… I forgot to mention one important step and will correct it later in the tutorial: You have to tell SteamVR to use OpenXR runtime–otherwise WMR will continue to do so and close SteamVR as you described.

In the SteamVR settings, click on “Developer” and you should see an option regarding the OpenXR runtime (will post a screenshot later). Let me know if this works for you.


Yes, I did check that option and it was already set to OpenXR… hmm, what am I missing?