How do I quickly position two windows side by side using only the keyboard?


alexx is looking for a keyboard-only equivalent to the ctrl+click trick I mentioned a few days ago.

  • Ctrl+Shift+Esc: This opens Task Manager.
  • From the Applications tab, use Ctrl+Space to select the two windows you want.
  • Alt+W (open the Windows menu)
  • V (Tile Vertically)

Not as quick, but it still works. And it works even if the windows you want got converted into a group.

Of course, on Windows 7, you can use the Win+Left and Win+Right hotkeys. (Users with multiple monitors can couple this with Win+Shift+Left and Win+Shift+Right.)

Comments (14)
  1. DWalker59 says:

    About the complaints of dealing with taskbar icons that have been grouped:  Personally, I don’t like grouped taskbar icons, so I turn off that choice.  If you have a decent-sized monitor, you can make the taskbar two rows high.  And you see more information about each taskbar icon.  And the quick launch area can hold 10 or 12 icons without being too wide.  Great all around!

    In XP at least, you also get the advantage of seeing the date AND the day of the week on the right side next to the time of day.  It’s often useful to be able to glance at the taskbar and see if it’s Wendesday or Thursday.

  2. Gabe says:

    In case it isn’t obvious, part of step 2 is to hold down CTRL while using the up and down arrows to move to different windows.

  3. You could do if from a powerShell script too ;) http://poshcode.org/1231

  4. Pretty neat! Actually the cntrl-shift-esc is something I didn’t know about and will save me a lot of keystrokes :)

  5. n3rd says:

    WinSplit Revolution is the way to go here:

    http://www.winsplit-revolution.com/

  6. Randall says:

    At the risk of being obvious, this says something about the importance of discoverability: plenty of people are going to think you couldn’t do these things before Windows 7.  Functionality matters, but handholding users on their way to using it helps too.

  7. Yuri Khan says:

    When I do the Ctrl-click/Tile trick, the windows end up in the wrong order: the one I wanted on the left ends up on the right, and vice versa. It’s even worse when trying to tile four windows. I thought the order in which taskbar buttons are Ctrl-clicked mattered but it seems not to.

    Is there any way to control which window ends up where when tiling?

  8. bahbar says:

    I never realized that we could select multiple windows in the taskbar.

    Now, I sometimes use keyboard selection on it (using windows-key, escape key, tab*2 – only when I don’t have my mouse handy :p), and it would seem natural to have the same type of selection (ctl-space, ctl-left/right or up/down) directly on the taskbar. Alas, that’s not been implemented. Well, I can’t complain about a missing keyboard accessibility feature, when I did not even know the mouse equivalent, can I ?

  9. anonymuos says:

    The design of Aero Snap should be been configurable such that it is triggered only while *MOVING* a window and when the cursor touches the edge of the screen and not when *RESIZING* a window and when the cursor touches the edge of the screen. Is that possible to do? Often while resizing my app window, I’m find Aero Snap getting triggered even when I don’t want it. There also doesn’t seem to have a way to resize a window except from the edge, so the mouse pointer is most likely to touch the edge.

  10. alexx says:

    Off course, by using task manager I would get a listview of currently running applications where Ctrl+Space works, now why didn’t I think of that? Thank you Raymond.

  11. Wolf Logan says:

    @anonymuos:

    There are two "Aero Snaps": if you Snap while dragging a window, you get the "full screen" snap. If you Snap while resizing a window you get the "full height" snap. "Full height" may also be triggered by double-clicking on the top or bottom edge of the window. This is analogous to double-clicking the title bar to go full-screen.

    I use the "full height" Snap when reading documents in windows that are usually smaller; it lets me see more of the page while I’m reading, then I can double-click the edge again to un-Snap.

  12. anonymuos says:

    @Wolf Logan, yeah so one can trigger full-height snap by double clicking the arrow on the edge of the window; why make it snap when resizing as well as moving? Like I said, you can’t resize except from the edges so the pointer is always likely to touch the screen edge. Aww..snap.

  13. Wolf Logan says:

    @anonymuos: if you’d like some background on the "why", you can read about the design process behind Aero Snap at http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/03/17/designing-aero-snap.aspx

    Aero Snap can, of course, be turned off with the Ease of Access control panel if you don’t like the snapping behaviour.

    I don’t really understand why there’s a problem with resize-snap but not move-snap…they both trigger at the same location(the top of the screen) and with the mouse in virtually the same place (the top few pixels of the window). Are you saying that you usually resize the window by slamming the top edge to the top of the screen, but you usually move the window by dragging the title bar carefully?

  14. Andres says:

    @Wolf Logan: When moving a window, you can grab it from anywhere on the title bar. So you can move it to the top of the screen, without your mouse getting to the top.

    But when resizing, you can only grab from the edge, so if you want the window at the top, you have to get your mouse to the top.

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