3 Best Strategies & Tools for Open Window Management in Windows 7

Tina Sieber 24-08-2011

open windows managementOpen windows are the paper stacks of the modern age. They clutter up our desktops and it can become quite a hassle to navigate between them. Just like with real paper, it takes a lot of discipline and a good system to keep the stacks in order.


Software developers have come up with many different ways to make window management more organized and convenient. One of the best inventions ever in this field was probably that of browser tabs. Apart from tabs, there are other ways to manage windows that are not limited to your browser. This article will introduce you to some Windows tricks and tools that will make your window management experience a lot more smoother and comfortable.

Windows Aero Effects

One of the big improvements of Windows 7 is that it has become more intuitive to use. The management of open windows has probably made the greatest progress in terms of user friendliness. Depending on how and where you move a window, it maximizes, docks to the side of the screen, or minimizes all other windows. These features are known as Windows Aero Effects How To Enable & Troubleshoot Aero Effects In Windows 7 Read More .

You can control Windows Aero Effects with your mouse or you can use hotkeys. The list below provides an overview.

Aero Peek 1

Make all open windows transparent to view gadgets and icons on desktop.
: [Windows] + [Spacebar]
: Hover over the bottom right corner of the taskbar.

open windows management


Aero Peek 2

Show or hide the desktop.
: [Windows] + [D]
: Click the Show Desktop icon in the Quick Launch Bar (if available).

Aero Shake

Minimize all but selected window. Reverse by clicking the key combination again.
: [Windows] + [Home]
: Shake the mouse as you left-click the title bar of the window that shall remain open.

Aero Snap 1

Dock selected window to the left or right half of your screen.
: [Windows] + left arrow OR [Windows] + right arrow
: Drag a window to the very left or right side of the screen.

Aero Snap 2

Maximizes and restores the selected window.
: [Windows] + up arrow OR [Windows] + down arrow
: Drag a windows to the very top or bottom of the screen.


Aero Snap 3

Maximizes and restores selected window in vertical dimension only.
: [Windows] + [SHIFT] + up arrow OR [Windows] + [SHIFT] + down arrow
Mouse: unknown to author.

Aero Flip

Launch 3D representation of open windows and click [Tab] key again to flip through them.
: [Windows] + [Tab]
: unknown to author.

For more Windows 7 keyboard tricks, have a look at the following articles:

If using Windows default features is too low tech and boring for you, check out the following tools for some more exciting solutions.


4t Tray Minimizer

This tool offers a small fleet of ways to manage open windows. What it does is add new buttons to the title bar, which allow you to minimize active windows to the system tray, roll up windows, and make them transparent. 4t Tray Minimizer also supports hotkeys and they are one of the first things you can customize during its setup.

After successfully installing 4t Tray Minimizer, you will see up to four additional buttons in the title bars of open windows. From left to right this is what they do: minimize window to system tray, roll up windows, pin window to be always on top, make window transparent.

window management technique

Should you find that you made a bad choice during the setup, you can go to > View > Options and change your settings, or you can re-launch the setup wizard via > View > Options Wizard and start all over again.


window management technique


MiniMe is the minimalist option in window management tools. Its sole purpose is to minimize applications to the system tray using a hotkey ([CTRL] + [SHIFT] + [Z]). The smart thing about this tool is that it doesn’t move the clutter from your desktop and taskbar to the system tray. Rather it minimizes all applications into a single tray icon, which subsequently works almost like a start button, allowing you to re-launch open windows.

open windows management

Still using Windows XP? Then check out TrayIt!, which was introduced in this article Minimize Programs to System Tray with TrayIt! Read More . If you’re always struggling with way too many open windows, have a look at these 3 Simple Programs That Can Help You Manage Multiple Windows 3 Simple Programs That Can Help You Manage Multiple Windows Read More .

What is your personal weapon against window clutter?

Image credit: Tatiana Popova

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  1. Scott J. Fox
    September 5, 2011 at 3:01 am

    the mouse for Aero Snap 3 would be putting your cursor on the top of the window as to resize it vertically, then drag that up to the top! It'll snap it vertically but not maximize it. (:

    • Tina
      September 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks for the explanation, Scott.

  2. Aibek
    August 29, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    cool post Tina

    • Tina
      August 29, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks Aibek!

  3. Ndrewniklas
    August 25, 2011 at 3:43 am

    For areo flip the mouse equivalent is clicking the scroll wheel and then scrolling to select the desired window

    • Tina
      August 25, 2011 at 9:07 am

      This doesn't work for me, but maybe there is a setting I'm lacking.

      • ygns
        August 25, 2011 at 10:27 am

        Resize either the top or bottom edges of an unmaximized window to touch the top/bottom edges of the screen and you should see the visual outline of the vertical maximized state.

  4. Dman
    August 25, 2011 at 1:16 am

    For Aero Snap 3, the mouse equivalent is to double-click the window's top border.

    • Tina
      August 25, 2011 at 9:07 am

      For me this triggers the same behavior as dragging the window to the top of the screen - the entire window is maximized in all directions, not just vertically. Besides, this also works in previous versions of Windows and is not exclusive to Windows 7.

      But maybe you see a different behavior?

      • ygns
        August 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

        Unfortunately I replied with the solution to another reply of yours, but there you were talking about flip so I hope it will still be seen. However, Dman is correct, but not very clear. If you doubleclick the title bar it will indeed fully maximize it. What Dman tried to say is to doubleclick the top/bottom edges (where the icon changes to resize vertically). A less pixel-hunting solution is to resize the window until the top/bot. edges of the window touch the top/bot. edges of the screen. To restore, drag it drom position See my other post below for a screenshot.

        • Tina
          August 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

          Ah, that makes sense. But it doesn't work for me right now. I guess I have to go back and fix Aero.