On my 13-inch MacBook Pro, screen real estate is at a premium, so I often have a hard time seeing all the windows I need to see at once. BetterSnapTool aims to help organize windows on your Mac for more efficient multitasking, or for working with multiple apps at once.
BetterSnapTool is the new kid on the block — how does it compare?
Getting started with BetterSnapTool is easy, there’s no necessary configuration and the app hides away nicely in the menu bar. To invoke BetterSnapTool, simply drag a window to either a corner or side of the screen and the window will re-size to half or one-quarter the size of your screen.
To bring the window back to its original size, simply drag it away from the ‘hot corner’ and it snaps back to normal (though I found this feature a little glitchy sometimes).
If you want more options than one-half and one-quarter screen, you can configure the settings for individual applications to take up a certain percentage of the screen.
For example, I don’t need a lot of space to be taking notes in TextEdit, but I’d like to see as much of the BetterSnapTool website in Firefox as possible. To do this, I click on the menu bar icon and select “Specific Settings for Current Application” and select a percentage of the screen for the application to occupy.
I’d like Firefox to take up 70% of the screen, and sit on the left. Now when I drag Firefox to the left-hand side of the screen, it snaps to 70%. For TextEdit, I do the same, except select 30% on the right slider.
If you have spaces configured to move a window to an adjacent space by dragging to the edge of the screen, you may find BetterSnapTool conflicts. I just deal with it but some people might find it pretty annoying.
BetterSnapTool allows you to configure keyboard shortcuts for resizing the window of a current app – they aren’t active by default, you must activate them under preferences.
You can set shortcuts for all the four-quarter positions, as well as for centering on the screen, or even moving a window to a secondary monitor. Since there are so many options, you may have a hard time finding keyboard shortcuts that aren’t already in use by other apps, so be careful!
BetterSnapTool allows you to easily customize the appearance of the application ‘guide boxes’ that give a preview of a window’s size. You can select color and opacity, as well as border-width, rounded corner radius, and animation length.
As handy as BetterSnapTool is, you will no doubt be a little disappointed to find that some apps just don’t play nicely with being re-sized. Most apps have a minimum width below which they won’t collapse, and any app that uses a 3-column interface will likely not re-size much below 70% (iTunes is the surprising exception).
The popular applications that I found uncooperative were the Mac App Store, all Adobe programs, Reeder, and Sparrow, but I’m sure there are more.
With these limitations in mind, there are still a lot of really useful applications of BetterSnapTool that work perfectly. I often have Word and Pages open side-by-side, for example. It’s also very useful for moving files between Finder windows, taking notes on websites or PDFs, or reading email and scheduling events, or any number of multi-app tasks.
I’ve had Cinch installed on my Mac for a couple months after getting it with a software bundle, and I did use it occasionally, and it works in much the same way as BetterSnapTool. However, Cinch is lacking the extensive customization options featured in BetterSnapTool, and is missing the added power of keyboard shortcuts.
SizeUp is a lot like Cinch, but uses all keyboard shortcuts instead of dragging.
Compared to these two options, BetterSnapTool comes out as the best of both worlds, with a much more palatable price tag ($1.99 compared to $6.99 for Cinch and $13 for SizeUp). I think BetterSnapTool is a clear winner in this category.
BetterSnapTool sets out to do what other applications have done before, but better. In this goal I think it certainly succeeds. Despite limitations imposed by other applications, BetterSnapTool is still powerful and very useful.
With the release of the 11-inch MacBook Air and the popularity of the 13-inch MacBook, I think a lot of users will find BetterSnapTool helps make the most of limited screen space for a very reasonable price.