Whether you use one monitor or three, Windows XP or Windows 8, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, you're bound to have windows on your desktop. And you probably juggle several of them at once.
Windows operating systems come with several built-in management features, but they're very basic and don't always play well with multiple monitors. To control a cascade of windows effectively, you need a third-party window manager. I tested five popular ones--some of them free, and most of them inexpensive.
The free WinSplit Revolution is a great starter program. Simple and lightweight, WinSplit Revolution helps you manage multiple windows by assigning hotkeys to different window positions, and by providing a more sophisticated window-snapping feature.
WinSplit Revolution's settings are completely customizable, and they handle everything from hotkeys to window-snapping positions, so you can move windows around swiftly and tile them exactly the way you want on each monitor. You can also set keyboard shortcuts for additional actions such as moving windows between monitors and toggling always-on-top desktop position.
A virtual numpad (a small on-screen arrow pad) is available for users who don't mind clicking, but find dragging...well, a drag. You click the numpad to snap windows to various available positions. Though the idea itself is good, I found that the numpad tended to disappear inexplicably and remain gone until I restarted the program; even attempts to restore it from the program's settings were futile. And because the numpad sits immovably at the top-left corner of the screen, it sometimes gets in the way of other windows' options.
That quibble aside, WinSplit Revolution is a simple yet powerful program. For convenient window snapping, this app is your best option.
If your window management needs go beyond mere window snapping, however, the $10 Mosaico may be a better fit. Unlike WinSplit Revolution, Mosaico has an actual program interface, and you can use it to create different desktop snapshots for various situations. Once you're happy with the way your windows are laid out, click the snapshot button to save the arrangement. You can save eight different desktop snapshots and restore them easily from the program's snapshot browser.
When restoring a snapshot, Mosaico will open relevant programs if they're closed, and will minimize others that aren't part of the snapshot. It can't, however, open specific documents.
Snapshots aside, Mosaico offers an enhanced window-snapping feature, accessible by clicking arrows on the program's interface or by dragging windows around. To perform the dragging function, you must first either enable the 'Arrange manually' option in the toolbar or press the M key. Mosaico supports multiple monitors well, and it comes with a built-in button for moving windows between monitors.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.