Resizing and Rearranging Your Windows with Two Keys

A skyscraper's windows

Last month I reviewed Divvy, an application for resizing, rearranging, and repositioning the windows on your Mac or Windows desktop. As I said then, Divvy is a great tool for quickly managing the different applications I have running on my desktop, and I find myself using it daily. It elicits “oohs” and “ahhs” when I’ve used it in during workshops. The only downside of Divvy (as I noted then) is that it costs $14. That might be more than you want to spend for what boils down to something you could accomplish by clicking and dragging.

I positioned the post about Divvy against George’s earlier review of BetterSnapTool. This $2, Mac-only app allows you to drag windows to the edges of the screen where they are automatically resized to take up a quarter, half, or whole of your screen. Pulling the window out of this location returns it to its original size. It performs perfectly well, although I found it much more useful on a small laptop screen than a large desktop.

But recently BetterSnapTool had an update that really expands its capabilities. First, you can now define “snap areas” anywhere on your desktop rather than just on the edges. When you drag an application onto one of these snap areas, it will be resized and repositioned to a predefined portion of the screen. You can give each snap area a keyboard shortcut (my favorite), saving yourself the need to even drag the window in the first place. You can also define certain snap areas to work only with certain applications or to only appear when holding down certain keys.

As useful as snap areas are, it’s another new option in BetterSnapTool that I use on a daily basis. Hidden under the “Extras” tab of the application’s preferences are two options: shortcut keys for moving and resizing windows.

Preferences screen for BetterSnapTool

When using the Mac or Windows OS under normal conditions, I move an application around by clicking on the top of the window and dragging the application. With the new keyboard shortcut, I can just put my house anywhere on the application, hold down the keyboard shortcut (I use the option key), and the window will start following my mouse. Admittedly, it’s not a big change; I’ve only eliminated the need to put the pointer at the top of the window and the click-and-drag. But. It. Feels. MAGICAL! It’s so much easier to move the window from anywhere on it. And not having to click and drag is a lifesaver when working on a laptop trackpad, as I do 90% of the time. It’s a whole lot less stress on my hand.

Resizing windows feels even more revolutionary. It normally requires you to grab the corner of an application and click-drag. Now I just put my pointer above the application, hold down my shortcuts (shift and option) and move the pointer to resize. Need a longer window? Just move the pointer down. Want a more narrow window? Just move the cursor to the left. It’s simple, intuitive, and I honestly can’t believe that I ever used a computer without being able to do this. I use these two shortcuts every hour of every day.

The update to BetterSnapTool means that you get much of the same functionality as Divvy for a fraction of its price. That being said, I don’t find the snap areas to be nearly as easy to use as Divvy’s interface. While ultimately more flexible, they take a lot more time to set up and I don’t know that I would take that time. But the two shortcuts for resizing and rearranging my windows? I would pay plenty more than $2 for that. Luckily, you don’t have to. So I’ve got the best of both worlds: using each tool at what it’s really good at.

Have you used BetterSnapTool, Divvy, or another tool for managing the windows on your desktop? Let us know in the comments!

Lead image: Windows, Windows and More Windows / ZeroOne / CC BY-SA 2.0

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