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How To Resize Or Move A Computer Program Window

Whenever you start a program or app or open a file or folder in Windows, they open in what’s called a window (which is how Windows gets its name).
Normally the window will fill your computers screen (fullscreen), which is generally what you want.

But it doesn’t have to, you can resize the program window to take up just half the screen, a quarter of the screen, or to be just about any size you want.

You can also move the window around on your screen, top left, bottom right or anywhere else you want it to be.

Minimise, Maximise & Restore Down.

The key to resizing a program window is understanding how the Minimise, Maximise and Restore Down buttons work.

The Minimise & Maximise buttons are at the very top right-hand corner of the screen. Next to the Close button (X)

The Minimise button is the flat line and the Maximise button is the square.

These buttons are always in the top right when a window can be resized. There are some windows that can’t be resized, but most can be.

Minimise, Maximise and Close buttons indicated by an arrow.

The Minimise Button.

When you open (or start) a program, it opens in a window over the top of the Desktop. You can’t see your Desktop, but it’s still there.

It’s a bit like throwing a table cloth over a table, you can’t see the table, but you know it’s still there.

And if you wanted to see or get to the table beneath, you could simply pull the cloth back.

Gather it up to one edge of the table.

Tablecloth being pulled over a table top.

That’s pretty much what the Minimise button does to your program’s window.

The window is covering your computer’s Desktop, to get to your Desktop, without closing the window, you’d click the Minimise button.

The window is dropped (or gathered) onto your Taskbar.

A Maximised window
With the program Maximised you can’t see your Desktop.
A window being minimised.
But when you click the minimise button…
Window minimised onto Taskbar.
The program is moved onto the Taskbar.

In Minimising a window, you’ve resized it to the smallest possible size it can be, without actually closing it.

So if the window is actually a program, it will keep working. It won’t stop doing whatever it was doing before it was minimised.

A video player, for example, will keep playing the video, an Anti Virus program doing a scan, will keep right on scanning.

You can tell when a program window is minimised because an indicator line appears underneath its icon on the Taskbar.

When a window is Minimised, it hasn’t closed. You won’t lose anything you’ve been working on or doing. The program is will continue to do whatever you set in motion.

It has simply been moved out of the way.

Minimised window indicate on Taskbar.

And if you hover your mouse pointer over a minimised window icon, you’ll see a preview window pop up.

To return the minimised window to its original size, either left-click on the preview pop up or the program’s icon.

To see how it works, why not try it out right now with this webpage. Minimise it, then hover your mouse pointer over the minimised icon on the Taskbar, and finally left-click it to return to normal size.

Maximise & Restore Down Button.

The Maximise button actually has two functions.

Firstly, when it’s showing as a single square, it’s called the Maximise button and clicking it will resize the program window fill the entire screen. As in maximum size.

However, when the window is already Maximised, i.e. filling the entire screen, the button will show as two squares, one on top of the other, instead of just a single square.

When it’s showing as two squares, it’s called the Restore Down button (sometimes you’ll hear it referred to as the Resize button). As in Restore the window Down to the previous size.

Close up view of the Maximise button.
Close up view of the Restore Down button.

Restore Down Button (Resize Button).

While the Maximise button is pretty much self-explanatory, the Restore Down button does require a closer look.

When you click the Restore Down button, the window (for whatever program, file or folder you’re looking at) will resize itself, it’ll get smaller. And you could be forgiven for thinking that the size it goes to is entirely random. But it’s not, it’s actually quite precise.

As an example, in the two pictures below I’m using Google Chrome to view this webpage (just like you are right now). In the first picture, I’ve got the window Maximised and then in the second picture it’s been resized using the Restore Down button.

Now I’ll do exactly the same thing with a program called Notepad. First, it’s Maximised and then it’s Restored Down.

You can see that Notepad has taken a different size, shape and position on the screen.

That happens because each program will “remember” what size, shape and position it was in the last time it was Restored Down.

In fact, program windows also “remember” whether they were Maximised or Restored Down when they were last closed and will re-open in that position.

Restore Down Doesn’t Seem To Work.

On your computer, you might find that Restore Down doesn’t work with all your program windows.

Maybe some of the program windows will resize after clicking Restore Down while others won’t.

Or maybe none of them do. Restore Down just doesn’t seem to work at all.

You might think that Restore Down is broken or there’s something wrong with your PC, but most likely it isn’t.

There are two good reasons for program windows not resizing after you click the Restore Down button.

In the video, I’ll show you why it happens and how to “fix it”.

How To “Fix” Restore Down Not Working.

Moving A Program Window.

When a window is in the Restore Down position, you can move it around the screen. You can position the window anywhere you want it to be.

To move a window, put your pointer onto the top bar of the window. Then hold down the left mouse button. Move the mouse around the screen and the window will follow.

When you release the mouse button, the window will stay where it is.

This action is called Dragging and Dropping. You drag the window to a new location and drop it there.

We looked at Dragging & Dropping earlier when we moved the Desktop icons around. This is exactly the same, except you’re dragging & dropping a window instead of an icon.
If you’d like to review that page click Windows Desktop

Resizing A Program Window.

Now that you can put a window into the Restore Down position and you can move the window around on the screen, how do you change the size and shape of it? How do you resize a program window?

To resize a program window, it needs to be in the Restore Down position. So click Restore Down if you haven’t already.

Then move your pointer to the very edge of the window, and you’ll see the arrowhead change to a double-headed arrow.

When the double-headed arrow appears, hold down the left mouse button and then move the mouse.

You’ll see the window re-sizing as you move the mouse.

The window will continue to resize until you release the mouse button. It’s very similar to Drag Drop.

You grab the edges of the window, drag them out to where you want them to be and then drop them.

A Program Always Starts (Opens) In A Small Window.

Sometimes you’ll get a program that always seems to start or open in a small window, in the Restore Down position.

But you’d prefer to have it start (or open) in a Maximised (fullscreen) window. It’s not a huge deal, but gosh darn it, it can be annoying when it keeps happening.

There’s usually a simple “fix” for this. And it becomes obvious once you know what’s going on.

When you close a program, when you click the X in the top right-hand corner, the program will “remember” what size window it was running in.

So if you close a program when it’s in a small window (Restored Down), the next time you start it up, it’ll start as a small window.

To fix the problem, start the program in question. Then Maximise it. Then immediately close it again. Don’t try to do anything with the program, just Maximise it and then close it.

Now open it again and it’ll open maximised (full screen). Hoorah.

Keyboard Shortcuts To Resize A Window.

Most of us will use the computer mouse to do virtually everything except for typing. But there are keyboard shortcuts to get things done quickly and easily. And resizing a program window is no exception.

While there are many more keyboard shortcuts than the ones I’m going to show you here, these are perhaps the most useful.

To make a window “Snap” to either the right or left hand side of the screen.

Press the Windows key and either the right or left arrow key depending on which way you want the window to go.

Keyboard with the Windows key and left and right arrow keys marked.
  • Pressing the Windows key and the up arrow will Maximise the window.
  • Pressing Windows and the down arrow will Restore Down a Maximised window, and Minimise a window that is in the Restore Down position.
  • Pressing Windows and the letter D will display your Desktop.

Using Keyboard shortcuts isn’t going to suit everyone, especially if you’re using a separate keyboard and mouse.

But if you’re working from a laptop and using the touchpad, then these shortcuts really can help to make your life just that little bit easier. It just takes a bit of practice.

Resizing A Window – Summary.

Resizing and moving windows around your screen really will help you to get more done and make your digital life just a little easier.

As a simple example, let’s say you’re looking to buy something online. A TV, a holiday, a new bike, whatever.

Different websites will be selling either exactly the same thing, or something very similar.

By having two or more browser windows open, but resized so that you can see them all, will allow you to compare each site directly, rather than popping in and out of each one.

With just a little practice you’ll find that you quickly get the hang of moving windows around the screen.

Next Page

Navigating Your Computer

Folder with files being looked at through magnifying glass

Finding all your pictures, documents etc can be difficult.
But once you’ve mastered Windows File Explorer, you’re laughing.

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