Microsoft

How do I ... take control of my Windows Desktop with WinSplit Revolution?

If you are using a monitor capable of high resolutions, and you frequently work with many open windows, you know getting those windows just in the right position can be a time-consuming job. That job becomes infinitely easier with the help of WinSplit Revolution.

If you're a Linux user, you know how easy it is to configure the desktop to look and behave exactly as you want it. With Microsoft Windows, this isn't so easy without the help of a third-party application. There is one application, WinSplit Revolution, that greatly simplifies desktop manipulation, and it might become your favorite tool to keep Windows in control.

If you are using a monitor capable of high resolutions and you frequently work with many open windows, you know getting those windows just in the right position can be a time-consuming job. That job becomes infinitely easier with the help of WinSplit Revolution.

But with WinSplit Revolution you don't just organize your windows for a single session. You can have WinSplit remember the positioning of these windows so once you get your applications organized, they can stay organized, even after a reboot. When you open up applications that have been placed and sized with WinSplit, the application will remember the placement and sizing of any window it modified. With that in mind, let's take a look at how it is used.

This blog post is available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Getting and installing

Like many similar tiny applications, WinSplit Revolution does not have an actual installation process. What you do is download the binary file and, upon unzipping the file, place the file in a convenient location for executing. Place the file in, say, your home directory, right-click the file, and select Add to Quicklaunch Menu. This will place an executable shortcut for WinSplit Revolution in your Vista Quick launch menu.

Starting the application

Go to the Quick launch menu and select WinSplit Shortcut, which will place an icon in the Notification Area of your task bar (Figure A).

Figure A

A left click brings up the options window ,and a right-click brings up the control window.

How to use WinSplit

You can control WinSplit in two ways: using key combinations or via a small traveling window. My preferred method is via the traveling window. Why? I use a laptop, and many of the key combination use the num-pad, which doesn't always have an equivalent with laptops. For that reason I will describe to you how to use this tool with the window.

First open up the applications you want to have on your desktop. Take a look at Figure B for an example. As you can see my desktop is a mess.

Figure B

This desktop is cumbersome to work with.

What I want to do is to be able to organize these windows so they are easier to work with. Now, as I said, I am working with a laptop, so the screen isn't as large as a desktop monitor can be. With that in mind what I want to do is set up my desktop so that on-line applications are positioned side-by-side, OpenOffice is placed dead center, and miscellaneous windows have their own particular spaces. The results will mean that I have to minimize certain windows to reach other applications (remember, this is a laptop running at a lower resolution, so screen real estate is a prime). I could, of course, set this up so that all applications are seen at one time, but at that point some applications would be too small to use.

Here's how it's done. Click on the WinSplit icon in the Notification Area of the taskbar. When you do, a small transluscent window will open that will hover over whatever window has current focus. As you can see in Figure C, this window has small, clickable arrows. These arrows are what you click to position a window.

Figure C

When you click on a new window, this WinSplit window will move to that window automatically.

Each of these buttons holds either two or three positions. If you click the center button once, the active window will cover the entire screen. If you click the center button twice, the active window will fill a thin slice in the center of the screen. If you click the center button three times, the active window will take up half of your screen (centered in the middle of your desktop).

You can go through each of these arrows to find the position of each click.

Notice the Keep check box. What this does is remember your window settings. If you uncheck that box, your window placement will not be remembered from session to session.

Just for fun I set up my screen with four windows, one in each corner, to show what a new layout might look like (Figure D).

Figure D

With the windows in place, WinSplit will remember their position the next time they are opened.

Of course, you can manually move these windows around to these sizes and placements, but the next time you open them you will have to do the same thing all over.

Final thoughts

WinSplit Revolution is one of those applications that might have you doubting its value, at least at first. But once you start using this handy tool, you won't be able to work without it. Give it a try; it will make your Windows desktop experience much more efficient.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

18 comments
rsoly777
rsoly777

This application has no uninstaller, I at last resort will delete the directory the files are in but I am not so sure that will completely remove this from my system I am sure it has its gooks somewhere. I did not like the way it reacted with some of my windows. I e-mailed their support on how to uninstall a week ago and have still not heard back, Figures! I also checked their website and there is no mention on how to uninstall. I thought Tech Republic has tried these apps and are putting their name behind it since the download is available from this website. Guess I will think twice next time.

PReinie
PReinie

At work, I use two IE windows, the second a new window of the first instantiation of IE "^N" (not two instantiations of IE). Will WinSplit allow me to place and remember my desired location of the first window .and. the second window? (Or will it place the second window where the first window is placed, or where MS XP wants it?) MS XP places my first window of IE almost where I want it, in that the window is completely on the screen, instead of where I want it, with the left window's border (handle?) to the left of the visible screen. Will WinSplit place my first window of IE just off screen where I want it? (I often switch between two applications by placing one just off screen to the left, and the other just off screen to the right. The cursor insert focus for each window is set my tabbing, and if the border/handle is on-screen, I occasionally leave the cursor/mouse left-click down too long as I activate the window, and it resizes it. Having the border/handle off-screen prevents me from grabbing it and resizing.)

jp
jp

With regards to the window sizing and postioning. I've always placed the windows where I want , size it and the hold control when I close the window. Then when I open that program again it is where I last left it and the size it was. Or is that too simple? With regards to icon control hmmm I think I will give it a go. Before I class it as "Junk Ware"

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Any idea if it will keep the applications pinned to the correct desktop? I find most of my apps reopen in the position and size they were in when I closed them.

Lighthouse Keeper
Lighthouse Keeper

Jack, You describe the WinSplit control window as a "small travelling window ... that will hover over whatever window has current focus". What options do you adjust to achieve this desirable behaviour? I have not been able to reproduce it in version 9.02 (even with a session restart after changing settings on the Misc tab).

Lighthouse Keeper
Lighthouse Keeper

Jack, You describe the WinSplit control window as a "travelling window ... that will hover over whatever window has current focus". What settings do you adjust to produce this desirable behaviour? I have not been able to reproduce it in version 9.02 (even with session restarts after adjusting options on the Misc tab).

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

How much time do you spend on desktop organization? I am one window at a time person myself, so I don't worry about arranging open windows. However, I hate having too many icons on my desktop and can appreciate that we each have our own organization preferences. What is your desktop organization preference? Do you need a third-party application to help you?

jlwallen
jlwallen

if you left click the icon in the notification try the floating window will appear. sorry if i left that bit out.

ejkolkman
ejkolkman

I set my task bar to auto hide, expanded it up one size, and created customized toolbars for my short cuts. nothing on the desktop except a couple of google gadgets and media player.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

The company I currently work for classifies the download site as spam.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

At home, I despise desktop icons so I don't have any. At work, I use a program called TinyDesk. With a shortcut in the QuickLaunch, a desktop item is only 2 clicks away. For extreme convenience, I added my own menu tree to the start menu. If you create another folder under Start Menu (where the Programs folder is) you can put links to your most used apps and get ot them very quickly. For example, at work I have: MyPrograms |-Apps | |-Foxit PDF Reader | |-... |-Graphics | |-PaintShopPro | |-... |-Mainframe |-Midrange |-Network . . . Everything accesible from the keyboard with at the most 5 key presses.

---TK---
---TK---

I really really hate Icons on my desktop, but they really are a necessary evil... So I use Desktop fences now, (cheers to TR) and I am able to hide all my Icons (out of site out of mind). Also when I detach my lappy from the docking station, the resolution changes... but fences keeps all the Icons in the same box/place! I use UltraMon to shift windows quickly from one screen to the other, or when I am using multiple .xls at the same time I can span across both screens and work on the .xls's at the same time side by side. The last thing I use is Rocket Dock, for my quick launch... yes its unnecessary, but it adds a little spice to my desktop.... added: Ill have to try out the new toy :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That's a new one on me. I'll have to try it next week. Currently I'm using VirtuaWin or Dexpot, but I test drive virtual desktop managers the way you try new distributions! Thanks.

Lighthouse Keeper
Lighthouse Keeper

Thanks for your response, Jack. I am okay with showing the control window but my question was mainly about making it "hover over whatever window has current focus" as described in your review. I have not been able to find any combination of options that allows this sort of mobility for the control window.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I haven't had any desktop icons for years. Those I use daily are on the Quick Launch; those I use less frequently are at the top of the Start Menu.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

I can do things much more quickly with the KB than the mouse. Yes, I'm old.