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Stupid Geek Tricks: Select Multiple Windows on the Taskbar

If you are like me, you probably have dozens of windows open at any given point, so if you want to tile just a couple of windows you have to minimize everything and then show two of the windows, and then tile them… so how do we just quickly select two taskbar buttons together?

There’s a simple trick that’s been built into Windows forever… hold down the Ctrl key while selecting taskbar buttons and you can select more than one at a time. The benefit is that you don’t have to minimize any other windows in order to tile them (or close them)

Stupid Geek Trick Illustrated

Hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on a taskbar button, and then while still holding down the Ctrl key, click on another taskbar button. You’ll notice that they are both selected. (Note that you can click on a button again to deselect it.)

taskbar3

Now that they are both selected, you can right-click on one of the buttons and choose to cascade, stack or show the windows side by side.

taskbar4

I don’t find cascading or stacking very useful, but side-by-side is something I use quite often.

tiled

This can be extremely useful when you are trying to look at two windows at once, especially when you’ve got a ton of windows open but only want to tile two of them.

Note: This should work fine in Windows XP even though the screenshots are from Vista.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/6/08

Comments (33)

  1. Keith

    Wow I can’t believe this would be this simple, Ive been trying to find something like this for awhile. Thanks!

  2. timothy

    How was I not aware of this before? Neat trick!

  3. Jared

    How did I now know this….

  4. Alexander_Q

    My life has improve knowing this, but I am sad to see it doesn’t work for Ultramon taskbars

  5. Rob

    I can’t believe I’ve never seen this before anywhere.
    Great tip I’ll use this a lot now thanks.

  6. Ron

    I would like to use this tip, but XP doesn’t offer the side by side option. Is ther another trick for this?

  7. Jean-Christoph

    Yeah! Works perfectly under XP also. Ty so much for this hint!

    P.S: I really love your desktop image. Do you have it somewhere to download?

  8. Mike

    This works great with multiple browsers also. I use both Firefox and Safari as well as occasionally IE. Works on all of them.

  9. jai bautista

    when i did this just moments ago.. my jaws literally dropped.

    thanks The Geek! :D

  10. D Pendergrass

    The options for XP are:
    Cascade
    Tile Horizontily
    Tile Vertically (side by side)
    Minimize group

  11. The Geek

    @Ron

    The option under XP is called “Tile Vertically” instead of side-by-side, but it’s the same thing.

    @Jean
    Wallpaper was from here: http://www.desktopgaming.com

  12. myownhtml

    Awesome trick! Now how do I undo it to get back to the way it was before applying the CTRL-click trick (XP)?

  13. whoisvaibhav

    Yes, I love this technique and I use it all the time… comes in very handy on a 1920×1200 display… Reminded me of a similar technique using Word and Excel:

    [mod-removed]

    The thing is that I have found that it doesn’t work with some applications (though I fail to recall which ones).. but it does work mostly…

  14. mxs

    Great trick, but on my vista home premium sp1 using 2 windows, the windows have a big gap between them wasting a lot of space. Any idea why, or how to solve so the space is used more efficiently when doing side by side?

    Thanks again.

  15. JayMo

    Just thought I’d echo everyone else and say I appreciate you sharing this. Thanks! :)

  16. JayMo

    Thanks for that desktopgaming.com link too!

  17. A How-To Geek reader

    Thanks for always providing new ways of doing things… By the way the tips section from Tweak UI also include this handy trick, read from it, might learn something new.

  18. Lesley

    I wish you a happy day and once again I cannot let a day go by without reading what “my” Geek has to say. I have learned so much more about computers because of you than I ever could have done otherwise. Thanks for being there.

  19. Klexur

    i can’t believe i hadn’t tried this before, i use the same method to select multiple files all the time!

  20. nuke3ae

    +1 Awesome never new about this

  21. Shkumbin

    Great TRICK!

  22. Mark

    AHAHah omg this is so awesome. I’ve done the manual resizing windows thing for SO MANY TIMES when doing research with browser and taking notes with word etc. hahah what a waste of my past time. At least I know this now! Thanks!

  23. jeremy

    it seems like windows 7 has done away with the extremely useful function… wtf >.

  24. paulo

    @jai bautista
    I second that, I went beserck after I did it, even though I’m so used to using the technique when selecting files. Thanks a lot, Geek!

  25. soydeedo

    jeremy:

    Yeah I just installed Windows 7 and noticed the same thing too. I was hoping I was just missing the option somehow. =/

  26. Marco A. Cruz Quevedo

    I would not call this ‘stupid’ but ‘clever’. Nice trick!

  27. dinkyfu

    Yeah – ditto @ windows 7 fail. Why remove something so useful ?! Still it is only Beta so with suffucient winge power it could change. I suppose there’ll eventually be a registry hack to fix this oversight…

  28. Gordon

    cool tricks i will be watching for more maybe now my son will show me some respect(hahahaha)

  29. Freke88

    You still have this in Windows 7 but you drag the window to the sides of the screen to make it automaticly set up instead of right clicking the task bar

  30. Graham

    Just found out this feature otu after using XP for years and then try it on Windows7 and they have removed this functionality! WTF!! I know u can use the snap function but that’s limited to 2 windows.

    Seems the new taskbar on the surface may seem better but it has actually lost functions from the old XP taskbar, great. idiots. i hope someone makes a fix for this.

  31. Korbman

    They didn’t remove it in Windows 7! I was playing around with it for a bit. If you have multiple windows opened, hold down ctrl + shift, then right click on the taskbar program icon (the one that you have the multiwindows open). It’ll give you the same options as noted above for Vista.

  32. Goodman

    This is something that has been in windows at lease since 2000. If you are like me, I constantly have a lot of windows open and have my task bar on the right side of my screen so I can read the titles. When I moved to Windows 7, I noticed by default, Windows combines windows of the same program. I have chosen not to combine the windows so I can read the titles. If you go this route, what Korbam suggested does not work. Nor can you select windows of different applications.

    This is a BIG pain in my books. If anyone has a solution, please post it for the rest of us!

    The only new feature I like along similar lines is the ability to hold shift and left click to open a new instance.

  33. Darrell

    Some people like to divide a screen into four quadrants of equal size. Other than re-sizing the windows yourself is there another way to do it?

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