Windows 10’s Snap Assist feature is nice, but it lacks customization. Microsoft’s PowerToys app makes it possible to split the screen however you want. This is great for ultra-wide monitors and anyone who wants a better tiling window manager.
Update: PowerToys was updated to version 0.31.1 on February 2, 2021, which included updates to the UI. We have swapped out screenshots and tweaked the steps to match the new version.
How to Customize Windows 10’s Snap Feature
The built-in Snap Assist feature only works in a 2×2 grid arrangement, which means that the windows will always be equally sized to fit the area: two windows side by side, four windows in the four corners of the screen, or one window on one side of the screen and two on the other.
If you have a big monitor, especially an ultra-wide, you may want more window tiling options. That’s where Microsoft’s PowerToys app comes in. The “FancyZones” feature adds many more options as well as the ability to create completely custom snap zones.
How to Get Microsoft PowerToys
PowerToys can be downloaded from Microsoft’s GitHub page. The app is free and open-source. Download the EXE file from the most recent release (avoid the Experimental releases) and click the file to install it.
To access the FancyZones settings after installing the app, open it from the System Tray on your taskbar.
Customize and Create FancyZones
With PowerToys installed, we can begin setting up the FancyZones. Open the app and click the “FancyZones” tab in the sidebar.
Before we do anything, make sure FancyZones is toggled on.
The first thing to do is to create your custom zone layout. This is where you’ll decide on how many zones you want as well as their sizes. Click “Launch Layout Editor.”
The Layout Editor includes a few pre-made templates to choose from. Simply select one to use it.
If the pre-made layouts aren’t to your liking, it’s possible to create a custom layout. There are two ways to do this. First, select a template as a starting point, then click the pencil icon to edit.
From the edit screen, you can adjust the number of zones, enable space around the zones, adjust the size of the space around the zones, and the distance to highlight adjacent zones. Click “Create Custom Layout” when finished.
The second method will start from scratch. Click the “Create New Layout” button to begin.
First, decide what type of layout you want. A “Grid” creates zones vertically and horizontally side-by-side. “Canvas” can create zones that overlap. Choose one and click “Create.”
If you picked “Grid,” a few zones will appear and you can use your mouse to move the boundaries and merge zones. Click “Save & Apply” when you’re done editing.
If you picked “Canvas,” click the “+” button to add a zone. The zone can be moved and resized in freeform. Click the “+” button again to add another zone. Click “Save & Apply” when done.
The newly created layout will appear in the “Custom” section of the Fancy Zones editor. Click the pencil icon to continue editing it.
How to Use FancyZones
With the layout created, there’s a number of other options to configure how it actually functions. There’s a lot you can do here, but we’ll make a few recommendations to get you started.
In the “Zone Behavior” section, you’ll probably want to enable the “Hold Shift key to activate zones while dragging” setting, which makes it really easy to move windows between zones quickly.
Next, scroll down to the “Window Behavior” section. There are three options we recommend enabling:
- Override Windows Snap shortcut (Win + Arrow) to move windows between zones.
- Move newly created windows to their last known zone.
- Restore the original size of windows when unsnapping.
The next section is “Appearance,” and it gives you a few options for how the FancyZones will look in action. You can make the windows transparent when dragging and choose custom colors.
Lastly, if there are any apps that you don’t want to use in FancyZones, you can exclude them in the bottom section. Simply type the name of the app in the text box, one per line. They will still work with Windows Snap Assist.
FancyZones is just one of the many things you can do with PowerToys, but it’s one of its best features. If you’re a power user and Snap Assist just isn’t flexible enough, give FancyZones a try.
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