Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Crisp your desktop with a window manager utility

Yaara Lancet | May 2, 2013
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.

Unlike the snapping function on most other window managers, WindowSpace's Snapping tab doesn't automatically send windows to corners. Instead, it concentrates on how windows behave when they're positioned next to each other: Will they automatically snap to each other, for instance, or will they overlap? WindowSpace makes it easy for you to arrange your windows however you want.

The program's lack of a real interface--and the number of settings you need to ponder before you can start setting things up--can be confusing at first. Nevertheless, for fine-tuned control, WindowSpace is a solid option. It costs $25 after a 30-day free trial.

Actual Window Manager

The four preceding tools above are free or reasonably inexpensive, but each offers only one set of features. The $50 Actual Window Manager includes every imaginable desktop-management feature, and then some--if you can find your way through the complicated, confusing, and rather unattractive interface.

Actual Window Manager's interface teems with countless options and tweaks.

Divided into nine different tabs, Actual Window Manager offers everything from specific window settings, a customized set of title bar buttons, and a configurable desktop grid for dragging and snapping windows, to keyboard shortcuts (dozens of them), window mirrors, virtual desktops, and a flexible Start-menu replacement. Unlike most Start menu replacements, Actual Window Manager lets you add just a Start button, and have the new Windows 8 Starts screen pop out of it, at full size or half size.

The program ably supports multiple monitors, giving you full control of multiple taskbars and their content. It even offers control of wallpaper settings, resolution controls, and other options that you'd normally select and manage through Windows' native settings. Actual Window Manager includes more options than I could use in a year, and the program's confusing interface can make them difficult to discover, but everything is there for the finding. All you need is the will to spend $50, the need for abundant features, and the patience to figure them out. The 60-day free trial can help you there.

Taming wild windows

Windows is a manageable operating system even without these third-party programs; but once you add their fresh and useful features to the mix, you may find that going back isn't an acceptable option. Whether you use multiple monitors or just one, a desktop manager can work wonders for your workflow. Try one, and see how well it helps you tame those wild and unmanageable beasts called windows.


Previous Page  1  2  3 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.