Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Window snap to quarter screen

The other day, I was playing with Linux Mint, and I realized that it would respond to Windows hotkey commands to "snap" windows to half of the monitor.  However, would also allow me to snap into a corner (a quarter of the screen) or to the top or bottom half of the screen - two things Windows does not do.  As a friend commented, "Linux does Windows better than Windows does Windows.

I've wanted this funtionality before, but I had never gone looking for an add-on to do it.  Today I found an excellent solution - WindowPadX.  It is open source (free for personal & commercial) and very lightweight.  It allows you to use the Win key + a number on the number pad to perform all of the functions mentioned above.

The documentation is non-existent, but I managed to get it running with relatively little trouble.  Here's what I did:

  1. Install AutoHotkey.  Yes, it requires a separate piece of software to run :(.  However, this is one that I've been wanting to play with for a while anyway, so it wasn't a big deal.  AutoHotkey is very lightweight, and they even have a portable version which makes me happy (more details on that below).
  2. Browse to the WindowPadX page on GitHub.  Find the "Download zip" button on the right-hand side near the bottom.  Download & unzip on your computer
  3. Open the unzipped folder and run the WindowPadX.ahk file inside.  This will launch WindowPadX which will run in the background with an icon in the system tray.
  4. Start using it.  You should now be able to press the WIN key + any number key on the number pad to move the window around your screen(s).  Here's what I've found through experimentation:
  • WIN + 2, 4, 6, or 8 will snap the window to half of the screen (bottom, left, right, or top respectively).  Pressing the number twice will snap the window to a quarter of the screen vertically or horizontally.
  • WIN + 1, 3, 7, or 9 will snap the window into a corner taking a quarter of the screen (half width, half height.  Pressing the number twice will snap the window to an eighth of the screen.
  • WIN + up arrow or down arrow will still maximize and minimize the window respectively.
If you want the program to run automatically when you start the computer, you can put a shortcut to WindowPadX.ahk in your startup folder.  You can find the startup folder here: C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup.  Alternatively, you can open your start menu, find the startup folder, right click, and select "open".

To run WindowPadX with AutoHotkey portable.  You'll need to tell Windows what program to use to open .ahk files.  You can simply open the WindowPadX.ahk file, chose "Select a program from a list of installed programs", and put in the path to the AutoHotkey.exe.  Alternatively, you can use a portable file extension program like Coffee to make things truly portable.

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