Make better use of screen real estate

4 分钟阅读

I believe everyone’s life has changed a lot these days due to the coronavirus pandemic, just like me, a high schooler. Like most other businesses, video meetings’ popularity is growing exponentially where our classes are taking place online, not to mention homework is assigned via MS teams.

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My laptop set up

At first week, I found myself have a strong neck pain when staring at my laptop screen for a whole day, even with my external mouse and keyboard. So I thought, why not turn the screen around and have a vertical view so I can have my backbone straighter? then I faced another annoying scene when I turn the screen: the Windows window management system can’t split the screen one at the top and the other in the bottom. Each window has a very weird ratio of 1:3 which is very narrow, and the texts and images are stretched, making it uncomfortable to look at.

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My neck is back!

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weird looking split screen

I thought how can I instantly turn the window to the shape i want without dragging and resize the window every time? At this point, a window managing app comes to my mind, it was from an video made by David Zhang (a technology and productivity YouTuber) where he introduced “PowerToys” by Microsoft.

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        Source: Wikipedia 

Introduction

Microsoft PowerToys is a set of freeware system utilities designed for power users developed by Microsoft for use on the Windows operating system. These programs add or change features to maximize productivity or add more customization. PowerToys are available for Windows 95, Windows XP, and Windows 10. Source: Wikipedia

It is a software that allows users to customize window layout as presets, then turn their window into the size, shape, and position in daily usage. It is open-source(on GitHub) and light weight, developed by Microsoft, lastly it runs in the background quietly and blend in the system seamlessly. Here is the link to the project: https://github.com/Microsoft/powertoys/releases


Manipulation

Interface

Let’s see how it works:

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Stock presets

Enter the FansyZone setting, click Edit zone, we can see a interface like this:

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3 window layout

These are the default preset layouts, it atomatically sort the zones according to the number you give.

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6 window layout

Custome presets

Now move to the real deal — the custom presets!

You can save presets made on your own into multiple profiles, then implement each for specific scenario as you want.

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When you are doing whatever on your computer, it is always there for you. Just simply drug the window while pressing shift, the FancyZones will activate. Then, drug your window into any preset zone you want, lift your finger pressing ⇧Shift, you will find the window transforms into the shape and position of the zone you set!


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Scenario planning:

Note Taking Portrait

Now, I can have a much comfortable view when using screen vertically!

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Note taking portrait

Note Taking Landscape

Personally, the preset above is for researching and note-taking, while other use cases like reading slides, I also have a preset for it:

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Note Taking Landscape

Optimized experience

Although this works great on laptops, the most benefit will be shown on a external monitor. When working on a larger display, it can really boost your productivity. This software make it much easier for users to split their large display into windows with laptop size and provide convenient multitasking experience. Just like David Zhang did:

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There are some great feature comes with this software that is going to further enhance your experience:

Shortcut under Universally:

`Win + ` Open & Close layout selection & edition panel

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Another highlighting feature just like the stock Windows settings:

Holding Win for showing Short cut guide

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Although this tool can’t be used with a few third party applications like iTunes or WeChat, it works flawlessly with the majority every day applications.

From that day I put PowerToy in use, I can see how my multitasking efficiency is boosted. With the customizability and easy of use, my desktop can have a more organized and appealing look while working. Additionally in the perspective of workflow, This tool here give you real flexibility on either consume content or create content, making computer work convenient and productive.

Reference

My Favorite Productivity Apps for Windows10 - Ultrawide, Tiling & Tabs Tools

Microsoft PowerToys

microsoft/PowerToys

感谢阅读!作者 @Yongzhao Wu

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