One feature that I’ve always wanted in Windows was the ability to have windows snap to the edge of the screen. Some people see that feature as an inconvenience because the operating system is trying to do something that the user may not have intended, but it can be useful when trying to quickly arrange windows.
Today I’m going to show you how to unobtrusively snap windows to the edge of the screen using a free program called FreeSnap! There are no options to configure, and there isn’t even a System Tray icon. The only way you’ll know the program is running is by the splash screen that’s shown when it starts. There is a predefined set of keyboard shortcuts that you can use to increase/decrease the size of a window, move it to one of the corners of the screen, or snap it to an edge of the screen.
Keyboard shortcuts are what make FreeSnap so wonderful. When I first started getting used to the program the shortcuts seemed unnatural, and nearly impossible to remember. It wasn’t until I visually drew a box around each set of keys that I began to understand why they were laid out the way they were (well, at least the ones for snapping and moving are intuitive). To help you visualize the keys I’ve color coded the groups and mapped them to a keyboard layout below.
to top: Windows Key + I
to bottom: Windows Key + K
to left: Windows Key + J
to right: Windows Key + L
to top-left corner: Windows Key + T
to bottom-left corner: Windows Key + G
to top-right corner: Windows Key + Y
to bottom-right corner: Windows Key + H
- Center window: Windows Key + C
Grow window: Windows Key + Z
Shrink window: Windows Key + X
The snapping feature is definitely my favorite part of the program. Naturally you would think that this would create some sort of “magnetic edges” on the program windows so that when you come in contact with another edge it is attracted to it. That’s not the case at all, and therefore it is much less likely to annoy you.
Instead when making a window snap to the edge of the screen it will extend the window to that edge. So let’s say you want a window to span from the top of your screen to the bottom, all you would have to do is press the Windows Key + I and then the Windows Key + K. To make it a little clearer I’ve created an animated image that shows what happens when I snap an application to the right side of the screen:
The grow and shrink (Windows Key + Z or X, respectively) feature will resize windows to the most common sizes. This is really handy for website and program developers to see what their work will look like on computers running at various resolutions. Here are the five preset resolutions that FreeSnap will shuffle between:
- 640 x 480
- 800 x 600
- 1024 x 768
- 1152 x 864
- 1280 x 1024
Moving a window is different than snapping it because the height and width of the window remain untouched. When you initiate a move it will be sent to the respective corner, such as in this case where I sent the window to the upper-right corner of the screen:
The shortcut keys, Windows Key + T/G/Y/H, makeup what appears to be a box on the keyboard. You can see this in the keyboard layout I posted above, and each letter corresponds to a corner of the box. That is important when it comes to remembering what key does what.
I think this program kind of provides the best of both worlds for users. You don’t have to worry about magnetic edges on windows which can get annoying after awhile, but you are still able to send a window to the edge of the screen. The only thing that takes some getting used to are the keyboard shortcuts. ;)
FreeSnap Homepage (for Windows only)