I love Apple products, and have been using OS X fairly exclusively for nearly seven years. Now and again, however, I have use Windows to get various chores done, and a feature that Windows 7 has down pat is the ability to snap windows around on the screen.
There are a couple of tools for OS X that attempt to replicate this, but the best one I have used so far is called Windownaut, from Binary Bakery. It makes arranging and snapping windows a breeze, and also has some extra powerful features that I’ve never seen before!
Windownaut’s primary purpose is to enable flexible and powerful window snapping on a Mac, and has a lot of options to boot. It runs as an unobtrusive background application, and allows you to “snap” a window to any side of your screen either through dragging or configurable hotkeys. And you can go beyond the typical left/right/maximized options that Windows 7 gives you too: Windownaut allows you to pick any side, any corner, maximized, centered, or even moved to another Spaces screen. Talk about options!
Custom keyboard shortcuts can be assigned to any particular window snap option, so I have mimicked the typical Windows 7 left/right/max choices with the Option+Cmd+arrow keys, and it works wonderfully. Dragging to an edge to snap works well too, giving a nice semi-transparent block to show where the window will end up. Windownaut also works well with Spaces, if you have them enabled. Dragging windows between different spaces in Snow Leopard for example will first show the snapping animation, but then move the window to the next space without interference.
One area where Windownaut could improve its snapping behavior is in returning a window to its original size and position after you’ve snapped around to a couple of different orientations. Windownaut will remember the last size and position, but not necessarily the original, unsnapped one. This causes me to do a little more clicking and dragging to resize and reposition windows than I’d hope, but perhaps that will be added in future versions.
Window Button Enhancements
But wait, there’s more! Windownaut can also add extra functionality to the red, yellow, and green window buttons in the top left of every window, often referred to as the traffic lights. By either adding a right click or a modifier key, each of the buttons can perform new actions. For example, you can assign a right click of the red button to quit the application, instead of just closing the window. Option-clicking the yellow button could allow you to show the currently open document in the Finder. You can also choose to display the layout selector to snap the window to a certain position, or force quit the application.
This may seem like a departure from typical OS X behavior, but I’ve been surprised how often these additional options have come in handy for me. Hopefully more options will be available here in the future as well for even more powerful shortcuts.
An important thing to note is that Windownaut dives deep into how OS X functions in order to work its magic. There are other tools that perform in a similar manner (BetterTouchTool, etc.), but every time I’ve tried one of these apps I always end up experiencing problems clicking and not having the system respond as it should.
The developer of Windownaut, Hisham Khalifa, has worked extra hard to remove these types of bugs, and he seems to have nailed them all. Since the official release of Windownaut I have not experienced any hung clicks or stuck buttons, which is a major accomplishment.
Windownaut is available for purchase from the Binary Bakery website for $9.99 for use on up to two Macs, or in a three-pack for $16.99. There is a 14-day trial so that you can try it before you buy. If you are looking for a way to recreate Windows 7’s window snapping functionality with a lot of added power, I would definitely recommend trying out Windownaut.