Yesterday, we wrote a post about hiding the menu bar, and in the corresponding video tutorial, we used window snapping to highlight one of the benefits of a hidden menu bar. Afterwards, I received several tweets and emails asking how to perform window snapping, since this is not a feature that appears natively in OS X.
Window snapping allows you to position windows in specific areas of the screen, usually by dragging the window to the edge of the screen, causing the window to “snap” into place. This feature was first popularized by Microsoft’s Aero Snap on Windows. Even though Apple doesn’t natively support it, window snapping is available on the Mac via a variety of third-party apps.
Split View != window snapping
To be fair, Apple did implement a Split View function in OS X El Capitan, which allows you to use full screen apps side-by-side. Unfortunately, Split view is limited to just two apps, and doesn’t compare 1:1 with true window snapping in a variety of other key ways. Split View is a nice option to have, but it simply doesn’t compete with the flexibility and customization afforded by many of the window snapping apps that we highlight below.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive option that’s solely focused on window snapping, then you can’t go wrong with Magnet, a $0.99 app on the Mac App Store that runs in the menu bar. Magnet is simple, but it does feature the ability to assign keyboard shortcuts to any window snapping area available.
BetterSnapTool is a $2.99 app that takes the idea of window snapping to the next level. It not only features keyboard shortcuts, appearance customizations, and modifier support, but it most notably allows users to create their own custom-defined snap areas. If you’re serious about window snapping and want the deepest experience available, then BetterSnapTool is the app for you.
BetterSnapTool lets users define custom snap areas
We’ve covered HyperDock in the past, primarily for its ability to show window previews of apps running in the OS X dock. But HyperDock isn’t just about adding new features to the Dock, as it also contains window snapping features. Although HyperDock isn’t as deep as BetterSnapTool when it comes to window snapping, when combined with its other abilities, it’s quite the compelling option.
HyperDock is available on the Mac App Store for $6.99 or for $6.95 via its website with a free trial. Keep in mind that the App Store version has a slightly reduced feature set due to App Store restrictions.
If you’re in need of a free OS X window snapping option, you might consider taking Spectacle for a test drive. The downside to using Spectacle is that it only works via the menu bar or keyboard shortcuts, and doesn’t allow you to drag windows to the edge of the screen to initiate snapping. While keyboard shortcuts are nice to have as an alternative option, I much prefer to use dragging to initiate window snapping in my workflow.
I’ve personally used all of the options listed in this post, and I can make a good case for using each of them depending on your needs. That said, HyperDock is the app that I’ve decided to use on a long term basis. I don’t need the depth afforded by BetterSnapTool, and I love HyperDock’s dock-centric features. But if you’re just concerned with basic window snapping, and you have a buck to spare, it’s hard to go wrong with Magnet.
Whatever you decide to do, I’m sure you’ll agree that having window snapping makes multitasking a breeze on the Mac. Split View is nice, but for true multitasking power, window snapping is where it’s at.