Moving windows around without your mouse


Ever have a TON of windows open on your desktop?

I’m a computer programmer. When I’m working on a project, I’m using a code editor (or more than one), a browser window to check my work, and version control software. I also have my Outlook up, a Word document for writing out instructions, Spotify for my music fix, and sometimes much more. In other words: TONS AND TONS OF WINDOWS. Much like inefficiency, it sucks. A lot.

So, a while back I started researching at Google University, and I ended up discovering that Microsoft Windows (from Windows 7 and up) has a really really cool feature to move windows directly with the keyboard. So, without further adieu, so begins this installment of… Burnin’ Down The Mouse!

An image of a fire in the background, and the words "Burnin' Down The Mouse" superimposed in the foreground.You’ll be on fire* after you learn these tricks! *not really, but close

So, doing this is really easy, but before we begin, you might want to take note of a couple of minor details:

  • This works on Windows, only. Sorry Mac/Linux/Apple DOS users.
    • If you’re a Mac user, perhaps we should address window placement in a separate article. Let us know if you want us to do this.
    • If you’re a Linux user, you probably already know how to do this, so go you!
    • If you’re an Apple DOS user, you probably can’t see this, but just know you’re my personal hero right now.
  • This works on Windows 7 and up. If you don’t know which version of Windows you’re running, try this:
    1. Hit the Windows key and “R” at the same time (Win-R).
    2. Enter “MSINFO32” and press enter. This loads your system information window.
    3. The top line (in the right-hand column) of the window that pops up should show your version of Windows. If you’re running Windows XP or Vista, this probably won’t work.

So, if you know you’re using Windows 7 or up, let’s do this! The first thing you’ll need to do is select the window you want to move. If you do it right now while you’re reading this article, it’ll probably move your web browser. Don’t be shocked if it goes somewhere! 😛

Once you’ve selected a window to move, try holding down the Windows key, and pressing the left arrow key. This diagram shows you the position of the Windows key, as well as all the arrow keys:

An image of a QWERTY keyboard layout with a red box drawn around the "Windows" and arrow keys.Note: the Windows key may have the Microsoft Windows logo on it, or it might just say “Win”, depending on your keyboard manufacturer. It might say something else entirely.

When you press the Windows key and the left arrow, did your window move to cover only the left half of your screen? (If it didn’t, try again, you might have started out docked.)

Wasn’t that cool?? BOOM! Now, take one guess how you’d move it to the right side of your screen…

An image of "Fry" from Futurama. He's thinking.

If you guessed “Windows key and right arrow”, you are correct! If your window was already docked to the left, it’ll first become free-floating, then if you press it again, it’ll move to the right side of the screen! Then, you can look at two things in one window, like this:

Two tiled windows on a computer desktop, one showing a Wikipedia article and the other showing an Access database.Two windows are better than one! 🙂

Now, if you replace the left or right arrows with up or down arrows, you will maximize and minimize your windows. Neat, huh?

Now, if you’re lucky enough to be running Windows 10, you can even move your windows into quadrants, like so:

A screenshot of a computer desktop with four windows tiled in quadrants: in the top left quadrant is a screenshot of this website, on the top right is a sample Excel document, on the bottom left is an Outlook folder, and on the bottom right is a Facebook profile.

To do that, simply move your window to the left or right, followed by the up or down arrow. Isn’t that cool?

Now, I could be done there, but I decided to throw in an extra treat for you: a handy (and shareable, hint hint) image that can be shared on your favorite social media accounts:

A square graphic with instructions to move windows around on a screen.I release thee, graphic. Go forth!

That’ll do it for today’s helpful hint. Thank you for reading, and if you found this useful, please go check out our other posts about hotkeys. Oh, and share this, because you probably have friends and family that don’t know how to do this at all! 🙂

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