Software

Magnet: Why the macOS window manager is a worthy upgrade

Occasionally, well-crafted applications change the way we work. Magnet, an inexpensive and brilliant window management utility for Macs, is such a program.

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Image: Apple/iTunes

Magnet, CrowdCafe's macOS window manager, may be the most helpful third-party application I've ever used. The unobtrusive tool helps keep my Mac desktop organized. With support for up to six desktops, the application enables moving and automatically resizing windows via keyboard shortcut commands, the menu bar, or simply dragging windows to new locations.

SEE: MacBook Pro 2016 with Touch Bar: Video review (TechRepublic)

Simply stated, Magnet lets you quickly and neatly align multiple viewable windows. There's no need to hassle with clunky apps that often just hide active windows—Magnet maintains viewable windows, unless you choose to maximize one. In other words, the windows aren't hidden and don't require a special gesture or keystroke to access—windows remain immediately viewable and accessible, just more neatly organized. As a result, it's much easier to keep your Mac desktop organized and efficient.

Magnet automatically resizes active application screens into quarter-display-sized windows when you drag the window to one of the screen's four corners. By superimposing gray shading on an active window when you move it to a predetermined screen location, the application confirms the window is about to be resized, so no accidental or unintended resizing or repositioning occurs when moving windows around on the desktop. It's brilliant.

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Magnet simplifies organizing multiple active windows on Macs.

Image: CrowdCafe

You need to give the application proper permission to operate. After installing the small program (it's less than 4MB), follow these steps.

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Select Security & Privacy.
  3. Click Privacy.
  4. Choose Accessibility.
  5. Check the box for Magnet.app.
  6. Click the lock icon in the screen's lower left corner if systems changes are locked, and enter the system administrator username and password to enable making system changes.
  7. Select the check box for Launch Magnet At Login to enable the program to start with macOS.
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Using Magnet, it's easy to organize multiple windows leveraging a variety of alignments.

Image: CrowdCafe

Once installed, dragging windows to the sides splits them into horizontal sections. Dragging windows to the top maximizes them, while dragging to the bottom splits windows into vertical thirds. What's particularly helpful (depending upon the circumstances) is the way windows' text and graphics automatically resize when Magnet changes the windows' sizes according to your placement instruction.

Magnet is such an easy and empowering innovation that I'm at a loss as to why the capability isn't automatically included, by default, within macOS. CrowdCafe deserves credit for introducing the feature with such simple and elegant operation.

SEE: macOS Sierra: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)

Worth every penny

You need not take my word regarding the utility's power and ease of use—Magnet possesses hundreds of solid five-star reviews on Apple's App Store.

At the time of this writing, the program is just $0.99 (while discounted 80% for an unstated limited period), and it's the number one paid productivity app in the store. That said, I'd pay up to $10 or maybe even a little more for Magnet without a second thought. There's no going back to working without Magnet.

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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