Using Windows 11

Managing and arranging windows

Windows 11 includes a host of keyboard shortcuts and 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 that have been around for several Windows versions; Windows 11 supercharges these options.

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, each open in separate File Explorer windows; 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. Drag a window title bar to any corner of the screen, and it snaps to fill that quadrant 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 3-23, for example, we’ve just snapped a File Explorer window to the right side of the screen and now have a choice of seven 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 and retain their previous size and position.)

Figure 3-23

Figure 3-23 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.

An even easier window-snapping technique, new in Windows 11, allows you to quickly snap a window into one of several predetermined layouts by pointing and clicking—no dragging and dropping required. To get started, hover the mouse pointer over the maximize button on the window you want to rearrange. That displays a list of available layouts like the one shown in Figure 3-24.

Figure 3-24

Figure 3-24 Hover the mouse pointer over the maximize button to expose this menu of available snap layouts. Click to immediately snap the window into the chosen position.

A variation of this feature, first available in Windows 11 version 22H2, makes window snapping easier on a touchscreen device. Drag the title bar up until you see a menu of available layouts drop down from the center of the display’s upper edge, as shown in Figure 3-25.

Figure 3-25

Figure 3-25 On a touchscreen device, you can drag a window’s title bar to the top of the display to choose from available snap layouts.

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

If you 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, the window snaps to full height when you reach the edge, without changing its width. When you drag the border away from the window edge, the opposite border snaps to its previous position.

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

Windows 11 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


Keyboard shortcut


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 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


* Pressing this key repeatedly cycles through the left, right, and restored positions. If you have more than one monitor, it cycles these positions on each monitor in turn.

The Windows 11 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 the following commands: Restore, Move, Size, Minimize, Maximize, and Close.

Window snapping is one of our favorite Windows 11 features. But if you prefer to arrange windows manually, go to Settings > System > Multitasking. Turning the Snap Windows switch to the Off position disables this feature completely. If you’d like to adjust some of the available options (turning off snap layouts that appear when you drag a window to the top of the screen, for example), use the checkboxes beneath this switch.