ICYDK: Quickly Organize Your Desktop with the Windows Key

Close-up of a ThinkPad keyboard.
Michael Crider

Multitasking is one of the wonderful things about modern operating systems. And, they’re built to take advantage of it. Take Windows 10, for example. If you’re reading this on a Windows 10 machine, try this: hold the Windows key (the one between Ctrl and Alt) and press left arrow. BAM! The browser window takes up exactly the left half of your screen.

Welcome to ICYDK (In Case You Didn’t Know), a series where we offer tips and tricks that aren’t necessarily new but may have gone under the radar or otherwise not be well known.

A Windows desktop with a Chrome window on the left half.
Win+right arrow or left arrow will instantly make your current program take up half the screen.

Hold Win+right arrow, and you’ll go back to the original size of the window, or if it was maximized, move it to the right side. You can do this with Win+left arrow or Win+right arrow across multiple monitors.

What about the up and down buttons? Try them, too. Win+up arrow will maximize a window to the whole screen, Win+down will shrink it back down. Press Win+down again, and it’ll be minimized to the taskbar.

There are some combinations you can pull here. If you put a window to half-screen size with the left or right arrow, you can then half it again with Win+up arrow or down arrow. This puts the window at one quarter the size of the screen. Combine these commands, and you can get a bunch of windows in very precise positions in just a second or two, especially if you use Alt+Tab to quickly find the programs you want.

Chrome and Google Docs on one side of the screen, YouTube on the other.
Quickly using the Windows button and arrow keys can let you organize multiple programs.

You can replicate some of these actions with your mouse: click and drag the program’s window to the side of the screen to half it, or into a corner to put it at quarter size. You can drag it up to the top of the screen to maximize the window. These aren’t as fast as using the Windows button, but that’s not an option if you’re in tablet mode.

A clean desktop with all programs minimized.
Win+D minimizes everything and takes you back to the desktop instantly.

One last quick shortcut: if you want to see the desktop right away without any windows in the way, press Win+D. It’ll minimize all of your currently open windows on all monitors. Alternately, Win+, (comma) can peek at the desktop, and send you back to the previous view without minimizing anything.

Michael Crider Michael Crider
Michael Crider has been writing about computers, phones, video games, and general nerdy things on the internet for ten years. He’s never happier than when he’s tinkering with his home-built desktop or soldering a new keyboard. Read Full Bio »

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