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Divvy Up Your Screen

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One annoyance that I’ve found in dealing with multiple windows in OS X is how each application seems to view the green plus button a little differently. Some applications use it to make the app full screen, and some of those use the button to return the window to its original size, and some choose to ignore it altogether.

iTunes is particularly poor at window management, choosing to display the mini player when the button is clicked. Safari and Finder seem to resize themselves without rhyme or reason. We’ve covered other aspects of window management here a few times, but my favorite way to manage my window size is now a little app named Divvy.

Divvy uses the OS X support for assistive devices to automate resizing windows. By default, Divvy is activated by clicking a status bar icon. Once clicked, you can select the size that you’d like your frontmost window to be. When you release the mouse, the window will be resized, and the Divvy window will disappear.

However, if you have multiple windows open, there’s an option to allow Divvy to stay open until dismissed. This helps by letting you choose each window, then select its desired size instead of having to recall the app for each window.

Like all great apps, Divvy’s usefulness is enhanced by keyboard shortcuts. You can define a system-wide shortcut to call the app, and then create shortcuts for common window positions. I’ve created shortcuts to make windows go full screen, center, and take up half-left or half-right positions.

I enjoy Divvy as it is, but I can think of a couple great enhancements. For one, it would be nice to be able to call a shortcut from outside the application, instead of having to call Divvy first. I’m not sure exactly how that would work internally, maybe through some Apple Script or Automator magic. The other addition I would love to see is something similar to Windows 7 and Cinch’s ability to resize windows by dragging them to “hot edges”.

What’s your favorite way to manage window size? Any tricks or apps that help? Sound off in the comments!

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Apple Company Profile

9 Responses to “Divvy Up Your Screen”

  1. Nihar Sharma

    Forgive me, but dragging a window all the way to left/right/top is an utter hassle so Windows 7 hasn’t really “solved” anything to that effect. I guess point-and-click users can enjoy watching the transparent pop that shows the resizing but for any user managing a lot of windows at once, it is nothing but a waste of time.

    A simply keyboard shortcut is all it takes to make the difference. This is why I use SizeUp in OS X. Its just sits in your menu bar and assigns shortcuts to immediately resize the active window to left half/right half/upper left/upper right and so on.

    Try it out here:

  2. My favorite way to manage window size is to use Windows 7… don’t get me wrong, I’ve got an iphone, macbook, mac mini and just ordered an iMac to replace the mac mini. I’m a big fan of macs, but window size management has always been TERRIBLE. Windows was always better in this regard with the max, min buttons and being able to resize from any edge. Now with the hot edges in Windows 7, OS X just feels that much worse. I’m not trying to take money out of a developer’s pocket, but Apple really should improve this in the OS and not rely on 3rd party apps.

  3. The green button is for ‘zoom’. IE it makes the window as big as it needs to be, which is why you think it behaves oddly for something like safari or finder. But, if you paid attention you’d notice that it resizes to be just big enough for the content. try it on a traditional blog page sometime.

    iTunes breaks this behaviour, you can somewhat fix it by holding alt i believe, which turns it into a maximise button.