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Windows 8 Snapping Tip

Windows 8 Metro apps have a concept called “Snapping”. Since Metro apps are full screen being able to see and compare data from two apps would be really difficult without Snapping. The reason why there’s Snapping, instead of normal resizing, is that Microsoft is catering to designers. Designers hate variability. They like one screen resolution, because that then defines the space they have to work in, and they can make that space beautiful. The fact that windows can be of any size/distortion really bothers designers. So by having four possible “modes” an app can be in – Landscape, Filled, Snapped, Portrait – it doesn’t overwhelm designers with too many spaces to work with to try and make apps beautful.

The problem I had with snapping at first is that the workflow seemed to be dependent upon correctly opening the apps in a certain order. The way to snap an app is to have two apps open, move the mouse to the upper left corner of the screen, grab the little preview window and drag it to the snapped position. It looks good, and is demo-able, but I always struggled with it. The reason why is because it never seemed like the app I wanted snapped was the one in the preview window.

Here’s what I recently discovered. It’s possible to pick an app to snap that’s not the latest opened app. When you mouse over the top left corner, drag down. This’ll open up the same preview bar that pressing Win + tab does. Using this you can grab any app you want to snap.

Time will tell if going through these snapping hoops is more efficient than the existing workflow of dragging windows around the screen, and I hope that it is. I feel that it has the potential to be. A problem it might have is perception. This could be one of those areas where if you study the users behavior, the study shows that the new way is quicker, but for some reason the end user feels that it is not.

So here’s to snapping in Windows 8. I hope it works.

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