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!