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Windows 7: Snap & Shake  

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Dancing with Windows 7: Snap & Shake

Some of the most highly promoted features of Windows 7 include new shortcuts designed for managing and arranging windows. These cool, new tricks include Snap and Shake.


Windows 7 tips and tricks, Snap, Shake, Aero, Windows keyboard shortcuts, arrange windows, switch windowsThe Snap feature in Windows 7 is an useful improvement which quickly sizes windows to fit specific areas of the desktop. You can easily view one window or look at two side-by-side. Positioning two windows side by side is helpful for copying data between them or for comparing their contents. The Snap feature is also handy to create one full-height, half-width window for reading an article or website on a widescreen monitor...a lot easier on your eyes instead of scanning across a wide screen.

How to Snap windows:

  1. To setup two windows, grab the title bar to drag one to the side of your screen until you see an outline or color change. This action triggers the Snap feature which creates a full-height, half-width window.
  2. Now drag the second window to the opposite side of the screen.

If you are running Windows 7 with the Aero interface (with see-through window edges), dragging a window to an edge displays a 3-dimensional outline as you move the window close to the left, right, or top edge of the screen. With the Aero interface disabled, all or a part of the screen will dim blue. These are both indicators you have “turned on” the Snap feature. Each window "snaps" to the full height of your monitor, but only half its width.

Tips for Using Snap

  • To maximize a window, drag the top of the window, the title bar, to the top of your screen until the mouse pointer touches the top edge of the screen. You can also click the Maximize button as before.
    TIP: To maximize or restore a window, I like this trick instead: double-click anywhere on a window title bar to maximize the window. Double-click again to restore.
  • Return the window to its original size by dragging the title bar down from the top of your screen. You can also click the Restore button.
  • For another way to restore a window to its original dimensions, drag its top or bottom edge away from the edge of your screen.
  • To size one window the full height of your screen without changing its width, drag it down to the bottom edge of your screen. This is not the same as the previous Snap techniques but it does make the window exactly as tall as your screen.

Snap Keyboard Shortcuts

It is also quick to use these new Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts to Snap windows to the left or right (the Windows Logo key is usually between the [Ctrl] and [Alt] keys at the left of the [Spacebar] and has a flying flag or Windows logo on top):

  • To snap the window against the left side: Windows Logo key + [Left Arrow].
  • To snap the window against the right side: Windows Logo key + [Right Arrow].
  • To move the window back again, either hit the same keystroke combination a couple more times (it cycles left, right, and original spot, over and over) or use the Windows Logo key + the opposite arrow key.
  • If you have more than one monitor, add the [Shift] key to move the frontmost window to the next monitor, left or right.
  • To expand a window vertically to the full height of the screen without changing the width of the window: [Shift] + Windows Logo key + [Up Arrow] to create the full-height effect.
  • To restore the window's original height: [Shift] + Windows Logo key + [Down Arrow].

Although it is sometimes called Aero Snap, the Snap feature doesn’t require the Aero interface to work with these tricks.


Another cool and handy trick is Shake which minimizes windows you’re not working with so you can concentrate on a specific task. This new Window 7 trick is also called Aero Shake but doesn’t need the Aero interface.

To minimize windows with the Shake feature:

  • Grab the title bar of the window you want to focus on and shake it back and forth (left and right). All of your other open windows will instantly minimize to the taskbar. The window you shake stays right where it was.
  • To restore the minimized windows, shake the open window again.

Dialog boxes (for example, boxes with OK and Cancel buttons) aren’t affected by the Shake feature—only full-blown windows.

How to Turn Off Snap & Shake

All of the snapping and shaking in Windows 7 is pretty cool. Right? Not so fast…you may not be such a fan. Some people don’t like the way the Snap and Shake features take control of their windows. If you agree, you can turn off the snapping and shaking features. They can be especially annoying if you work with multiple monitors. If you agree, you can quickly turn off the snapping and shaking features.

To turn off Snap and Shake:

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. In the Search box, type snap until you see "Turn off automatic windows arrangement." Click the link.
  3. This opens the "Make the mouse easier to use" control panel. At the bottom, turn on "Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen," and then click OK to apply.

From now on, windows move only when and where you move them. This change also turns off the Shake feature.

Now, with Windows 7, you can get your groove on with these snapping and shaking tricks.

© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro® and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist (MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.

This article and more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with copyright and attribution.
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