How can I display more windows at once more easily?
July 23, 2005 1:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm a self-admitted computer freak, and I primarily run Windows XP. On average, I have at least 5 windows open. I have a 20" flat panel, and I want to display multiple programs at once in a simple fashion. Is there software that can do this? Or should I, as I'm planning to do now, purchase another monitor?
posted by creeront to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
I don't understand... why can't you display five programs at once?
posted by blue mustard at 1:59 PM on July 23, 2005

I want to easily be able to easily view, say, a web browser and Microsoft word, and perhaps another web browser window simultaneously without having to drag them into separate corners of my screen, so I can see them all at once.
posted by creeront at 2:03 PM on July 23, 2005

Multiple virtual desktops, mapped to hotkeys? Arguably not easy to install, but very easy to use.
posted by box at 2:06 PM on July 23, 2005

Right click on the task bar and hit tile windows.
posted by arruns at 2:07 PM on July 23, 2005

Well, if the problem is that you don't like dragging and resizing the windows, you can right click any empty space on the task bar, and then click "Tile Windows Horizontally" (or "Vertically"). This will arrange any non-minimized windows in a fairly space efficient manner. If the problem is that you find the windows too small once after you've tiled them, then yes, a second monitor (or bigger first monitor) would help.
posted by blue mustard at 2:07 PM on July 23, 2005

Get multiple monitors anyway. Once you go that route, you won't believe you were able to live without the real estate. And another secret. If you wear glasses, get a wide frame that allows you to maximize your peripheral vision without having to move your head. I'm serious. Your workflow will change dramatically.
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:12 PM on July 23, 2005

not what you want, but the way i (and others, i guess) handle this is:
- use virtual desktops to arrange major "tasks"
- put critical things like mefi and email in a central desktop, so it's always one jump away
- learn how to configure and use keyboard shortcuts to switch between desktops
- use alt-tab to switch between windows (typically in the same virtual desktop)
you get so used to this that windows appear automatically when you want to see them - you really don't need them visible at the same time.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:13 PM on July 23, 2005

Microsoft has a free Powertoy for multiple desktops, you can download it here.

It also works with multiple monitors.
posted by jackofsaxons at 2:17 PM on July 23, 2005

Okay. This is probably of marginal use, but I once used a Window Manager in Linux called Ion.

It sort of drops windows into fixed trays... check out the screenshots on the site. Obviously you would need to be running Linux (thus the marginal use) but it can be very, very nice.
posted by selfnoise at 2:23 PM on July 23, 2005

Virtual Desktop Manager.
posted by holgate at 3:20 PM on July 23, 2005

Just wait for Dell to do another special on the 2001FP. You can usually get them for under $450 shipped. I have two and don't know what I'd do without them.
posted by wakko at 3:29 PM on July 23, 2005

Hoekey can be used to assign window size and position to a key press (along with thousands of other things - the biggest problem is that it is too flexible). This is much simpler than dragging and resizing a lot.

I have a key press assigned to creating a full height x .6width column on the right. Another for shifting any window, of any size, to the top left corner. A third for .25h x .6w in the lower left. Despite only using three choices, it is very helpful for shuffling through browser windows and explorer sessions.
posted by Chuckles at 4:44 PM on July 23, 2005

wakko: Dell has the 2005FPW 20.1-inch Flat Panel LCD Monitor for $389 with free shipping. I bought two yesterday. Check the details. The coupons you need are:

Not that I am making anything from this advocacy or anything...
posted by A-Train at 5:08 PM on July 23, 2005

i know there is some software that emulates what macs do when you tile all your programs. sorry i cant remember the name of the prog, but it was featured on 'the screen savers' before if i helped jog someone's memory.
posted by at 6:06 PM on July 23, 2005

I used to hate getting this answer, but buy a mac! My window management abilities shot through the roof for some reason after getting one. I used to stick below 10 windows open on xp, but now I can juggle 20-30 no prob.

I think it is a combination of the smarter alt-tab, no MDI (this really slows me down, arg, photoshop! i hate thee on xp!), no silly task bar filled with just 16x16 icons and ellipses, and expose is great for emergency switching (when you forget your alt-tab context).

Perhaps there are shareware tools that improve alt-tab order logic on windows?
posted by clord at 6:06 PM on July 23, 2005

I ended up buying a 2005FPW and installing hte virtual desktop manager. Thanks, everyone.
posted by creeront at 12:19 PM on July 24, 2005

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