Download ShiftIt, which helps you move/resize windows by assigning global hotkeys. Make sure you get version 1.6.


I'm using a MacBook Pro on a day-to-day basis. My first (and lasting) impression is that they removed the 6 most precious keys on the keyboard--Home, End, PgUp, PgDn, Del, Ins, and they did it because they hate me.

But we're not here to talk about how much pain I've endured attempting to mentally map the Mac equivalents of "skip word", "go to end of line", "go to beginning of the line", etc. That kind of useless ranting is what Twitter is for.

Moving windows on a Mac - describing the problem

Today we're here to talk about the problem of moving windows around. Macs have inherited the Windows disease of opening each new application in a tiny portion of the available space (maybe they're sharing needles, I don't know), and Macs have gone a little further in that they made their maximize button tiny, secretly gave it two modes of operation, and refused to assign a global hotkey to either maximize operation. Safari must have gotten complications of the diseased window syndrome because it will simply not maximize, I don't know, Safari hates us I guess.

Most people I watch using a Mac go through a short-to-medium length ritual of opening a program--finding their program on the dock (of course), moving their trackpad mouse cursor over to the 5px wide button, clicking the green one, then watching as the program slowly maximizes to fill part of the screen. Then they remember, move their cursor over to the green button again, look down at the keyboard, find the shift key, press and hold the shift key, and click on the button. And the program really maximizes this time. And it's like a minute later, and they're done. Maybe this is how people take mental breaks--"I need a break. I know, I'll open a program on my Mac, that will give me at least a few minutes of downtime."

I don't know you people and I don't know why you're all so bad at this.

Anyway it's driving me a little bit crazy.

Stating for the record - Windows 7 is better out of the box

Windows 7 introduced keystrokes to maximize windows and move them from screen to screen. I won't belabor the point except to say that the details are here if you need them, and to say that this is a solved problem on Windows out-of-the-box.

ShiftIt to the rescue - moving/maximizing windows for Macs

Meanwhile all is not lost.

Some kind soul named 'fiknovik' on github is maintaining a perfectly good window management program called ShiftIt. Note I am linking directly to the (now hidden) downloads page of the project. In a fit of hilarity/incompetence/extreme unnecessary competence, I compiled my own version of shiftit before someone told me there's a downloads page.

Oops, I haven't even mentioned what ShiftIt does yet. ShiftIt assigns global hotkeys to common window resize/move tasks such as:

  • maximize window
  • move window to left/right half of the screen (I do this a lot with the Chrome Developer Tools window)
  • move window to the other monitor, assuming I have two monitors available

Basically, it solves the "How do I move this window" problem in a way familiar to my Windows-thinking brain.


Download ShiftIt here.

Download ShiftIt 1.6, not 1.5

Version 1.6 introduced the ability to move a window to another monitor. 1.5 does not have this shortcut. 1.6 is labeled 'dev', but swallow your fear and be brave, and download the dev version so you can switch monitors painlessly.

The World Of Duh: A blog series

Welcome to the World of Duh, a blog series in which I talk about something new to me in an informal, unresearched, and often factually inaccurate way. My goal with this series of posts is to help those struggling with similar issues find a solution. Given I didn't do much research on the topic, the solution I propose may not be the best solution, just "a" solution. You're welcome.