How to use snap layouts in Windows 11

ByDavid M. Conte

Oct 5, 2021

Windows 11 might not be exactly revolutionary, but there are some features that are just plain useful, and instant layouts are one of them. Replacing the drag-and-drop snap assist feature of Windows 10, snap layouts allow you to organize your apps quickly and neatly on your desktop, making them much easier to view and use at the same time. time. (Certainly, it’s much better than constantly switching Alt-Tab between the apps that many of us are used to.)

Here’s how you set it up:

  • Hover your cursor over the magnify icon in the top right corner of an app or press Win-Z. You’ll see four (or six if you have a large monitor) different grid layouts for you to choose from. Each layout will have multiple zones in a different configuration.
  • Choose a layout and hover over the area where you want to place your active app. This area will turn blue; Click on it. Your application will then snap into this position.

Choose a layout, then choose the area you want your active app to be in.

  • If you had other apps open, they may appear as thumbnails in another of the areas. Alt-Tab to each open app and choose the area you want that app to be in. You can also just click on the app if it’s in the area you want it to be.

When you choose an area for one app, the others may appear as thumbnails in another area.  Just Alt-Tab to each and choose an area.

When you choose an area for one app, the others may appear as thumbnails in another area. Just Alt-Tab to each and choose an area.

(Note: Sometimes as you rearrange an app can overlap. If things get confusing, use Alt-Tab to see where each app is or find them in the taskbar.)

And you are good to go!

Snap layouts organize your windows in a neat grid pattern.

Snap layouts organize your windows in a neat grid pattern.

Your instant layout will also be reflected in the taskbar. If you go to the taskbar and hover over the icon for one of the apps in your layout, you’ll see a thumbnail for both the app and the layout group it is part of; you can click either one.

Hover over an app's taskbar icon and you'll see both the app alone and its grouping of layouts.

Hover over an app’s taskbar icon and you’ll see both the app alone and its grouping of layouts.

Need to maximize an application? Just click on the magnify icon. Click it again and the app will revert to its old configuration.

Adjust layout settings

You can adjust the snap layouts by going to “Settings”> “System”> “Multitasking”. You have a variety of options that you can turn on or off. For example, you can choose not to display the snap layout feature when you hover over the magnification symbol or when you hover over your app icon in the taskbar. You can make other windows resize automatically when you resize one manually. And, of course, you can turn off the feature altogether.

Go to the multitasking section of your setup to change your instant layout features.

Go to the multitasking section of your setup to change your instant layout features.

Learn how to use it

When you start using instant layouts it can take a bit of getting used to, especially when it comes to deciding which app goes where. Once you’re set, however, you might find that Instant Layouts make it easier, for example, to monitor your Twitter or Slack account while working on a document or watching a video. Granted, if you have a smaller screen, having more than two apps open at the same time can make things a bit cluttered, but it’s worth experimenting a bit to see what works for you.


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