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Using Windows 10

Managing and arranging windows

Windows 10 includes a host of keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures that greatly simplify the everyday tasks of resizing, moving, minimizing, arranging, and otherwise managing windows. The most useful trick is a collection of “snap” techniques. These have been around for several Windows versions, but Windows 10 adds some extremely useful new tricks to the old familiar methods.

The simplest window-snapping scenario is a PC with a single display, where you want to arrange two windows side by side. You might want to compare two Word documents, move files between the Documents folder and an archive, or do financial research in a web browser and plug the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet.

Drag a window title bar to the left or right edge of the screen, and it snaps to fill that half of the display. As soon as you let go of the title bar, the window snaps into its position and Windows helpfully offers thumbnails for all other open windows to help you choose what to run alongside your first snapped window.

In Figure 3-21, for example, we’ve just snapped a File Explorer window to the right side of the screen and now have a choice of four other running windows to snap opposite it. (If you don’t feel like snapping a second window, just press Esc or click anywhere except on one of those thumbnails. They vanish immediately.)

Figure 3-21

Figure 3-21 When you snap a window to one edge of the display, Windows shows other open windows in thumbnails alongside the snapped window for easy side-by-side arrangement.

Here are a few ways you can snap windows in Windows 10 by using a mouse or by dragging directly on a touchscreen:

  • Drag the title bar to the top of the screen to maximize the window, or drag the title bar away from the top edge to restore it to its previous window size.
  • Drag a window title bar to any corner of the screen, and it snaps to fill that quadrant of the display. This capability is new in Windows 10 and is most useful on large, high-resolution desktop displays.
  • Drag the top window border (not the title bar) to the top edge of the screen, or drag the bottom border to the bottom edge of the screen. With either action, when you reach the edge, the window snaps to full height without changing its width. When you drag the border away from the window edge, the opposite border snaps to its previous position.

Note that the window resizes when the mouse pointer hits the edge of the screen. To use this feature with minimal mouse movement, start your drag action by pointing at the title bar near the edge you’re going to snap to.

As soon as you begin dragging a snapped window away from the edge of the screen, it returns to its previous size and position.

The rules work the same with multimonitor setups. With two side-by-side monitors, for example, you can drag the mouse to the inside edge of a display and snap a window there, allowing for four equal-size windows lined up from left to right. Dragging the title bar also allows you to move a maximized window from one screen to another on a multimonitor system.

Windows 10 includes keyboard shortcuts that correspond with the preceding mouse gestures. These (and a few extras) are shown in Table 3-1.

Table 3-1 Keyboard shortcuts and gestures for resizing and moving windows

Task

Keyboard shortcut

Gesture

Maximize window

Windows key+Up Arrow

Drag title bar to top of screen

Resize window to full screen height without changing its width

Shift+Windows key+Up Arrow

Drag top or bottom border to edge of screen

Restore a maximized or full-height window

Windows key+Down Arrow

Drag title bar or border away from screen edge

Minimize a restored window

Windows key+Down Arrow

Click the Minimize button

Snap to the left half of the screen

Windows key+Left Arrow*

Drag title bar to left edge

Snap to the right half of the screen

Windows key+Right Arrow*

Drag title bar to right edge

Move to the next virtual desktop

Ctrl+Windows key+Left/Right Arrow

Three-finger swipe on precision touchpad; none for mouse

Move to the next monitor

Shift+Windows key+Left/Right Arrow

Drag title bar

Minimize all windows except the active window (press again to restore windows previously minimized with this shortcut)

Windows key+Home

“Shake” the title bar

Minimize all windows

Windows key+M

Restore windows after minimizing

Shift+Windows key+M

The Windows 10 taskbar also exposes some traditional window-management menus. The secret? Hold the Shift key as you right-click a taskbar button. For a button that represents a single window, the menu includes commands to Restore, Move, Size, Minimize, Maximize, and Close the window. For a grouped taskbar button, Shift+right-click displays commands to arrange, restore, minimize, or close all windows in the group.

If you find it disconcerting to have windows snap to a certain size and position when you drag their title bars, you can disable Snap. These options are well hidden on the Multitasking page in System Settings; it’s easier to find them by typing Snap in the search box.

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