Avoid Window Overload: 5 Great Tools To Manage Multiple Windows

Chris Hoffman 24-05-2013

manage multiple windowsUsing the Windows desktop involves managing windows 3 Simple Programs That Can Help You Manage Multiple Windows Read More . Some people may use full-screen windows all the time, but power users know that the key to being productive is having multiple windows visible at a time, whether you’re using multiple monitors 6 Ways to Set Up Dual Monitors to Be More Productive Read More or the side-by-side Aero Snap feature 3 Best Strategies & Tools for Open Window Management in Windows 7 Open 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... Read More in Windows.


Sadly, the Windows desktop still lacks many useful window-management features found on other operating systems, and Microsoft is more interested in playing with their new “Modern” toys 6 Ways Microsoft Is Killing The Traditional Desktop In Windows 8 [Opinion] The traditional desktop is still around in Windows 8, and it’s probably the best Windows desktop yet (aside from not having a Start menu.) But Microsoft is setting it up for the kill. The writing... Read More than working on the old Windows desktop. However, you can get many great new Windows desktop features by installing third-party utilities.

Always On Top Maker

Microsoft hasn’t yet added a “stay on top” option to Windows. Some programs — the VLC media player 7 Top Secret Features of the Free VLC Media Player VLC should be your media player of choice. The cross-platform tool has a bag full of secret features you can use right now. Read More , for example — have built in “always on top” features, but most programs don’t.

The simplest way to make windows always on top is with Always On Top Maker. It’s a tiny program that will run in the background without cluttering your system tray or context menus. When you want a window to be always-on-top, all you have to do is press Ctrl+Alt+T. If you want it running all the time, just drop it in your Windows Startup folder How To Add Programs To Your Startup On Windows Vista, 7 & 8 It recently came to my attention that there are people who are under the impression that to allow a program to run at startup, you'll need to either enable it in the included program's options... Read More and it will start in the background when you boot your computer.

manage multiple windows

We have previously reviewed several other options to make selected windows stay on top 5 Simple Ways To Keep Selected Windows On Top [Windows] Computers are made to multitask. As a result, we all have to juggle with multiple open windows to jump back and forth between various tasks. Sometimes, however, you just want to keep one window in... Read More  in Windows.


Dexpot – Virtual Desktops for Windows

Virtual desktops are a killer feature Expand Your Desktop Workspace With Dexpot - Cool Virtual Desktop Software [Windows] I was talking to one of my friends, who is an avid Linux user. He told me that one of the Linux features he simply can’t do without is "virtual desktops". I can now tell... Read More found on the Linux desktop What's The Difference Between Linux Desktop Environments? [Technology Explained] If you've been introduced to the world of Linux, it probably didn't take too long to notice that it doesn't have a single "face". Linux can sport all kinds of desktop environments, or none at... Read More . They’ve also made their way to Apple’s Mac OS X in the form of “Spaces.” How To Organize Your Mac Desktop With Spaces Read More Microsoft has played with the idea, offering a virtual desktop PowerToy for Windows XP, but has never integrated virtual desktops into Windows.

Virtual desktops allow you to arrange your open windows into different spaces. For example, you could have one desktop with your work applications and another desktop for your personal applications. This keeps your open windows logically grouped and allows you to quickly switch between different activities without restoring and minimizing a variety of windows — just switch desktops.

The best virtual desktop utility we’ve found is Dexpot, which is free for personal use. It’s packed with a variety of features, but it generally just works well with the taskbar found in Windows 7 and Windows 8. Dexpot allows you to switch between virtual desktops with a few clicks or keyboard shortcuts, open a full-screen preview of your virtual desktops where you can drag windows around to rearrange them, and more.

windows multiple monitor tools


Switcher – Exposé for Windows

The Exposé feature Become a Multitasking Master With These 6 Mac Exposé Tips Read More was introduced on the Mac in 2003. It allows you to view all your open windows as small thumbnails, giving you the ability to see all open windows on a single screen and easily switch between them. It’s never made its way officially to Windows — Microsoft instead introduced the silly Flip3D tech demo What's Missing From Windows 8? Windows 8 has seen the removal of many features that have been key to Windows over the years, including the Start button, Start menu, and Windows Aero. We tend to focus on the new features... Read More as a feature in Windows Vista.

Luckily, a Microsoft employee created an unofficial tool that brings something like the Exposé feature to Windows. It’s called Switcher [No Longer Available], and it’s available for free. The Switcher page says it requires Windows Vista, but it also works with Windows 7.

By default, Switcher allows you to press Windows Key + ` to switch between your windows in this way, but you can change the keyboard shortcut to anything you like.

windows multiple monitor tools


Winsplit Revolution – A Tiling Window Manager

Tiling window managers 5 Alternatives To Unity For Ubuntu Users [Linux] We’ve previously written about Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment, which we touted as a "big leap forward" for Linux when it was introduced with Ubuntu 11.04. Unity was certainly a big leap in a new direction,... Read More are more commonly found on Linux desktops. The idea behind tiling window managers is that you shouldn’t have to drag windows around with your mouse, resizing them. You should be able to easily assign windows to regions of your screen.

Winsplit Revolution brings this concept to Windows. Install it and you’ll be able to quickly arrange windows on your screen with a keyboard shortcut. For example, Ctrl+Alt+Number pad 1 will assign a window to the bottom-left corner of your screen while Ctrl+Alt+Number pad 9 will assign a window to the top-right corner of your screen. This makes arranging multiple windows on your screen much faster.

manage multiple windows

Close All – Close All Open Windows

When you’re done with what you’re doing, you may have a desktop cluttered with windows from many different programs. Close All is the fastest way to close all open windows — click this program’s shortcut and it will send the close signal to all open windows.


This utility doesn’t run in the background or take any memory as it doesn’t need to run all the time — only when you click it. You can even tweak its settings so that it won’t automatically close certain windows, leaving important windows open and quickly closing unimportant ones. It will leave background programs like the ones in your system tray alone, only closing open windows on your desktop.

Any open programs should prompt you to save your unsaved work if you haven’t already. However, there are many programs out there and a badly behaved program may not prompt you, so be careful.


Do you use any other useful window-management utilities? Leave a comment and share them!

Image Credit: Browser Windows Via Shutterstock

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  1. Jeremy Garnett
    May 27, 2013 at 4:40 am

    If you use Ctrl+Alt+T for other purposes, try Labnol's Always On Top utility. It's a 194kb download from Dropbox, and uses Ctrl+Space as its hotkeys - very simple and as far as I'm, aware, unclaimed by anyone else.

  2. Tanel Ramst
    May 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Win + Tab

  3. Jeff Schallenberg
    May 25, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I will try Dexpot, but I am a longtime devotee of Altdesk:

    Altdesk, besides being skinnable, saves display space by only showing the program icons in the virtual displays rather than thumbnails of the programs' windows. The program icons can be dragged from one virtual display to another.

    It's well worth the $15, IMO.

  4. Ray
    May 25, 2013 at 3:10 am

    the last close all can be simply done by win + m

    • GF
      May 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      It's necessary to distinguish between "closing the windows" and "reducing the windows to icons in the taskbar".
      It's not clear which action Close All does.
      Win + M does the second action.

  5. Chris C
    May 25, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Maybe one day the Windows desktop will catch up with the configurabiltiy and extensibility of most linux desktops.

    • epiquestions
      May 25, 2013 at 1:48 am

      another linux fanboy...

    • null
      May 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Maybo one day the Linux desktop will catch up with the compatibility and marketshare of most windows desktops-

  6. Meena Bassem
    May 24, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    you can use ubuntu, and enjoy the multi desktops there by default without any extra software

    • epiquestions
      May 25, 2013 at 1:46 am

      lol at linux fanboyism....

    • null
      May 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Yeah since linux doesn't have much of extra software at all.