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How To Resize Or Move A Computer Program Window

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

But it doesn’t have to. In Windows 10 and Windows 11, 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.

Resizing and moving program and file windows around your screen allows you to have (and work on) more than one program at a time. It’s extremely useful to know how to do it.

Minimise, Maximise & Restore Down.

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

Whenever you open a file, folder, program, app or anything that you’re doing beyond the desktop, you’ll see 3 buttons in the very top right-hand corner of the window.

To the far right is the Close button (the X), which I’m sure pretty much everyone knows about.

Just to the left of the Close button are the Minimise, Maximise/Restore Down buttons.

Minimise, Maximise/Restore Down & close buttons indicated.
The Minimise, Maximise/Restore Down & Close buttons in Windows 11.
Close up view of Minimise, Maximise/Restore Down and Close buttons.
A close up view of the Minimise, Maximise/Restore Down & Close buttons.

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The Minimise Button.

The Minimise button is the easiest to explain because it only has one job, and that is to send the open window (program) to the Taskbar. Clicking the Minimise button doesn’t close the program, nor does it stop the program from doing whatever it’s doing. The window is simply moved out of your way.

Google Chrome open fullscreen. Callout reads "maximised".
Here is the window Maximised (fullscreen).
Chrome being minimised. Callout reads "minimising".
When you click the Minimise button….
Callout pointing to Chrome on taskbar. Reads "Minimised".
The window is moved to the Taskbar.

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.

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.

Close up of Chrome minimised onto taskbar.
A small line appears underneath open program windows
Mouse pointer hovering over a minimised program on taskbar.
Hover mouse pointer over the icon to see a preview of the window.

When you’ve minimised several folders, as you hover your mouse over the folders icon on the taskbar, you’ll see each folder appear as a preview.

To restore a given folder, simply click the one that you want.

Mouse pointer hovering on minimised folder icon on taskbar. 3 folders are shown in preview.
3 folders minimised

Moving & Resizing Windows.

This is where moving and resizing windows really comes into its own. Let’s say you’re trying to compare which files are in two different folders. Maybe you’re organising your pictures or documents. Rather than have to constantly “jump” from one folder to the other, you can have both folders open, side by side, at the same time.

It’s also much easier when shopping on the Internet, you can have two web browser windows open, side by side, allowing you to compare prices, specs, delivery etc, between different suppliers.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, first, we need to look at how the Maximise/Restore Down button works.


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Maximise & Restore Down Button.

The Maximise button actually has two functions, Maximise and Restore Down.

  1. Firstly, when it’s showing as a single square, it’s called the Maximise button and clicking it will resize the program window to 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.
  2. 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 of maximise button.
A single square indicates the Maximise button
Close up of Restore Down button in Windows 11.
And a square on top of another indicates 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 and it’s also very slightly different depending on whether you’re using Windows10 or Windows 11.

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.

Whenever you Restore Down a window, it will return to the size, shape and position on the screen that it was in the last time it was Restored Down.

Program window (Google Chrome) fullscreen
The window is Maximised (fullscreen).
Program window (Google Chrome) in Restore Down position.. Taking up a quarter of the screen.
The window has been Restored Down.

Restore Down Button In Windows 11.

If your computer is running Windows 11, then the Restore Down button has an extra function.

If you hover your mouse pointer over the Restore Down button, you’ll see a block of shapes appear. Clicking on any of these shapes will automatically resize and position the window according to which shape you clicked.

Which allows you to quickly and automatically have multiple windows open and visible on screen at the same time.

Mouse pointer hovering over restore down button in Windows 11. Auto size and position options are shown.
Hover your pointer over the Restore Down button in Windows 11.
Three open program windows in Windows 11.
The windows will take up the position and size that you choose from the options flyout.

Note

The option to have a window automatically take up a size and position from the Restore Down button is only available for Windows 11 users.

If you’re using a Windows 10 computer, you won’t see those options when hovering your mouse over the button. However, it’s really easy to achieve the same effect by manually moving and resizing the windows. Which is really what this guide is all about.


Moving A Program Window.

In both Windows 10 & 11 when a program 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 by dragging and dropping it.

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.

A program window is dragged from top left to bottom right corner of screen. Mouse is shown with left button depressed and dotted arrow indicates direction of movement.
Keep the left button pressed down and drag the window across the screen.

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.

Callout points to double headed arrow. Dotted line indicates resize window horizontally.
You can resize the window horizontally by using the sides of the window
Callout points to double headed arrow. Dotted line indicates resize window vertically.
Or resize it vertically by grabbing the top or bottom of the window
Callout points to double headed arrow. Dotted line indicates resize window in all directions.
Or resize in all directions by grabbing the corner of the window

Although Windows 10 doesn’t have the automatic resizing options that are available by hovering your mouse over the Restore Down button in Windows 11, you can very quickly achieve the exact same results.

By resizing and then moving your program windows around the screen.

Three open windows arranged  on screen.
You can do it in Windows 10 too. Easy.

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.

Program window is restored down. Call out reads "Starts like this everytime".
Sometimes a program will start (launch) in a Restored Down window.
Program window maximised. Call out reads "But you want it to start fullscreen (maximised).
But You want it to launch in a maximised (fullscreen) window.

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 –

  1. Open the program as normal. It opens in a small window (Restored Down).
  2. Maximise the program window.
  3. Close the program by clicking the X in the top right corner. Don’t do anything with the program, don’t type anything, don’t click anywhere except on to the X in the top right corner.
  4. Now re-open the program. Voila. It opens maximised (fullscreen). Hoorah.

Keyboard Shortcuts To Resize And Move 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. These shortcuts work in both Windows 10 and 11.

This one is 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.

The top window will automatically “snap” or resize itself to take up half the screen.

In this way, you can quickly have two windows side by side.

Windows key and left/right arrow keys marked
Use the Windows key and direction arrows to make a window “snap” to the left or right of the screen.
  • 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.


If Restore Down Doesn’t Seem To Work For You.

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.

The first reason is that the Restore Down window is almost the same size as the maximised window. When you click the Restore Down button, the size of the window barely changes at all.

This can happen in both Windows 10 and 11.

The second reason could be that Windows is in tablet mode. Tablet mode is specific to Windows 10, the feature has been withdrawn from Windows 11.

In this short video, I’ll show you how to deal with both issues, starting with the Restore Down window being too large.

How To “Fix” Restore Down Not Working.

Resizing A Window – Summary.

Knowing how to resize and move program windows around your screen is a great skill to have. It really is incredibly useful. And Ok, so having several windows on the screen at the same time is a bit much, but having two windows open is more than manageable, especially on larger screens. In essence, you’re splitting your screen.

As a simple example, let’s say you’re looking to buy something online. A TV, a holiday, a new bike, or whatever. Different websites will be selling either exactly the same thing or something very similar.

Having two browser windows open side by side would allow you to easily compare each site directly, rather than popping in and out of each one.

Maybe you need to compare what pictures you’ve got in two different folders on your computer, open both folders and resize them side by side. Now it’s easy to see what’s in each folder.

Resizing a window isn’t something you’re going to be doing every day, but all the same, it’s well worth knowing how to do it.

Folder with files being looked at through magnifying glass
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Finding Your Files

Whenever you open a folder, save a file, download a file, or simply search your computer for a particular file, what you’re using is Windows File Explorer.

Folder with files being looked at through magnifying glass
Next Page

Finding Your Files

Whenever you open a folder, save a file, download a file, or simply search your computer for a particular file, what you’re using is Windows File Explorer.

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