Your Windows PC’s Snap feature is either the best part you’re not using or the best feature you’re probably not using to its full potential. Sure, you may have snapped some windows, but do you know about all the keyboard shortcuts, Snap Layouts, and Snap Groups — and have you tried Microsoft’s even more powerful alternative to Snap?

Microsoft initially introduced Snap in Windows 7, where it was called Aero Snap; it let you snap two windows side-by-side on your screen. It got an upgrade in Windows 10, allowing you to snap up to four windows in quarters rather than two in halves.

It’s even better in Windows 11 with new features like Snap Layouts and Snap Groups, which makes it easier to find — and more powerful.

I’ll show you how to take advantage of Snap on Windows 11 and 10 and go beyond Snap for even more powerful multitasking and control of your open windows.

Snap basics on Windows 11 and 10

Snapping is easy. Just click a window’s title bar, hold down the left mouse button, and drag it to either the left or right edge of your screen or one of the four corners. You’ll see a preview of the shape the window will take when you release the mouse button — either taking up the left or right half of the screen or one of the four quadrants, depending on where you drag it.

In Windows 11, once you’ve dropped the window in place and snapped it to your desired shape, Windows will prompt you to choose from other open windows to fill in the other regions of your Snap layout. Microsoft calls this Snap Assist.

You can snap windows with keyboard shortcuts, too. Press and hold the Windows key on your keyboard and press the arrow keys to move the current window around. If you have a maximized window and press the Windows key + the Right arrow, it will snap to the right half of your screen. If you keep holding down the Windows key and press the Up arrow key after the Right arrow key, it will snap to the top-right quadrant of the screen.

When you grab the handle between multiple snapped windows and drag it to resize a window, Windows will resize both windows simultaneously.

Snap Layouts and Groups on Windows 11

Windows 11 makes Snap much easier to find and use. You can mouse over the Maximize button at the top-right corner of any window to see Snap Layouts. Windows will show you a variety of layouts; click a position to snap the window into that position on your screen immediately.

There’s a keyboard shortcut, too, using the Windows key + the capital letter Z. If you press Windows + Z to open Snap Layouts, you can press the number keys that appear in the overlay to quickly assign the window to a location on the screen without touching your mouse.

You can also drag a window to the middle of the top edge of your screen. You’ll see the Snap Layouts options, then drop the window wherever you like on one of the layouts to snap it to attention.

Windows will show different layout options depending on your screen size. If you have a big widescreen monitor, you may see options to snap three windows side-by-side in columns, while you may see options to snap only two windows side-by-side on a typical laptop screen.

These grouped windows will appear together on the taskbar. You can use Alt + Tab to switch between groups of multiple windows simultaneously quickly. Just hover over a taskbar icon of one of the applications snapped in the group to see the group.

Let’s say you have two windows snapped side-by-side and another four in a grid. You can go back and forth between these two groups with Alt + Tab or by selecting one of the applications on the taskbar — you don’t have to manually pull up all two (or four) windows each time you switch among them.

Fine-tuning your Snap settings

So many of these behaviors are customizable. By default, Windows has all these Snap settings turned on, but you can deactivate any of them individually — or even disable Snap entirely. (I don’t see why you would want to, but Windows is powerful and customizable; the choice is yours if it gets in the way.)

You’ll find the options for controlling Snap in the Windows Settings app. Launch Settings from the Start menu and head to System then Multitasking to find them. On Windows 11, click the “Snap windows” header to see various options. On Windows 10, you’ll see the options under “Work with multiple windows.”

You can turn off the Snap Assist suggestions after you snap a window, prevent the Snap Layouts pane from appearing when you hover over the Maximize button, or stop seeing groups of snapped applications when you press Alt + Tab.

Snap is for everyone

I’m a huge fan of Snap. Assuming you have multiple windows on the screen simultaneously, you should use Snap constantly. It’s hard to believe we had to live without it back in the Windows XP era, resizing our windows by hand to take proper advantage of all that desktop real estate on our PCs.

Thanks, and safe computing!

Why do some clients complain about the cost?

I always include an extended warranty whenever I sell a higher-end APC UPS battery backup device. I do this to safeguard my client’s investment in a piece of hardware designed to protect computer and network equipment from electrical mishaps.

Sometimes I get push-back from clients about the additional expense, and I take the time to explain what the extended warranty offers. Of course, I’m using a rational approach to try to offset an automatic response (i.e., a gut feeling), which – I realize – is not one that works well all the time.

But let me tell you about a recent incident with one APC UPS device.

A client was renovating one of their offices. As a result of the new design, the APC UPS ended up underneath a desktop counter with minimal airflow. I received an alert because the battery temperature had increased significantly – to the point where it would reduce the lifespan dramatically. So, I asked for a vent to be placed in that section of the desktop counter.

When the contractor came to do the work, he inadvertently sliced into the UPS with his jigsaw while cutting the opening in the desktop. The device went into battery-only mode because he had severed the electrical connection.

Without an extended warranty, here’s what would have happened. I could take advantage of the APC TradeUPS program to obtain a new device. In mid-2022, there is only a 5% discount ($469 -5% = $445). The model is heavy, so shipping is expensive ($50). And there’s the Bergen County recycling fee for batteries ($35). All in, this comes to $530 to replace a damaged device.

With an extended warranty, the replacement device is free, shipping is free, and the recycling fee is free. There is no cost for a warranty replacement.

An extended warranty costs approximately $120 when purchased with a new UPS. In addition to the unique situation my client experienced, an extended warranty lets you obtain a replacement battery, including free shipping and recycling, during the device’s warranty period. Consider that a replacement battery costs about $130 (not including shipping) without a warranty. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, a UPS battery will last between three and five years based on environmental conditions. That means during the life of the device, you might replace the battery at least once, and possibly twice.

There is no reason not to get an extended warranty when you buy a new UPS if one of your goals is to save money.

I received a phone call from a client who said that her laptop was running exceedingly slowly — even more so than usual. So I remoted in to take a quick look. I found a new icon on the taskbar that looked like a fat, folded Sunday newspaper. By way of definition, the taskbar contains the Start button, icons for pinned and running applications, and a system tray area that contains notification icons and a clock.

When I hovered my mouse over the icon, the tooltip said it was the Windows 10 News and Interests news feed. Once clicked, it opens a pane that displays various widgets that contain current news, weather, stock prices, and more based on your location. The initial download of all this “stuff” caused my client’s perception of slow response on her laptop.

I searched Google and after reading several articles, I learned how to eliminate this icon from appearing. Therefore, I am writing this article to teach you how to do the same thing when it “miraculously” appears on your computer.

But first, let’s be clear about one thing. Not one of you went and asked the folks at Redmond to install this. You didn’t explicitly agree to get the news, weather, and more on your desktop. And you certainly shouldn’t need to try — on your own — to figure out just how the heck to get rid of this intrusion. I don’t know what they were thinking. (Can you tell I’m annoyed by this nonsense?)

Here are the steps you can take to get rid of this and regain control of your taskbar:

  1. Right-click on any blank section of your taskbar. This will open the taskbar menu.
  2. Left-click the News and interests banner. This will open a fly-away menu.
  3. On the fly-away, left-click Turn off. This should disable this “feature.”

Now, I’ve read reports that the icon just shows up again after the computer is restarted. If you experience that, please let me know.

While you’re at it, if you see an icon that resembles a wristwatch, right-click that and select Hide. I don’t believe anyone needs the Meet Now function, a Skype quick meeting setup feature. If you still use Skype, you are usually talking to one person. When you need to engage with more people for discussions, you are most likely using Zoom (or Microsoft Teams).