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 applicationGo to the Quick launch menu and select WinSplit Shortcut, which will place an icon in the Notification Area of your task bar (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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Stay on top of the latest XP tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows XP newsletter, delivered every Thursday. Automatically sign up today!
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.