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How to Use, Configure, or Disable the Windows 7 Snap Feature

written by: Jimmy Rogers•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 10/26/2010

Windows 7 unveiled a number of really neat Aero features when they launched the OS, but some of them can be a little bit annoying. If you like resizing your windows manually, you may want to turn off the "Snap Feature." Fortunately for you, it's a....SNAP!

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    What is Windows Snap?

    Snap is a new Aero feature in Windows 7 that allows you to rapidly resize windows to the most commonly used sizes. Drag a window all the way to the top of your screen and it will automatically expand the window the full height of the screen. Drag to the left or right and the window will instantly resize to half the size of your screen. It's an easy way to quickly view two windows side-by-side.

    The logic behind Snap is simple. For years it has been frustrating to get a window to fill up most of the screen without going full-screen. For instance, I have a PDF reading program that always opens in a strange window size. By dragging up, I can quickly expand the window without blocking my entire view of the desktop.

    For more info about Snap from Microsoft, check out their feature page for videos and explanations.

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    How Do I Use Windows Snap?

    The Snap controls are a little bit hard to explain because they rely more on user intuition than 'logical' rules. Here are the essential 'commands':

    Aero Snap Demo To expand a window to full-size (but not full-screen), grab the window's menu bar and drag it up to the top. You should see a transparent outline of the action before it happens.

    To expand a window to half-size (of the whole screen), grab the window's menu bar and drag to either the left or right edge of the screen. Again the action will happen transparently to give you a preview. If you use another window and drag to the other side of the screen, you can view two windows side-by-side.

    To maintain a window's width but get maximum height, click and drag the top or bottom edge of the window and expand it until it reaches the top or bottom edge. The other edge will automatically expand as high or low as it can.

    These are the primary functions of the Snap feature. Some windows and objects are also more sensitive to their position on the screen and will fall more easily into a grid than before, so you might also consider this part of the larger Aero work environment.

    [Aero Snap Demo image from How-To Geek]

    On the next page you'll discover how to Enable and Disable Aero Snap on Windows 7.

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    Instructions for How to Turn Off the Windows 7 Aero Snap FeatureBothered by that weird Aero Snap feature? Want to resize windows how YOU want to? Use these steps to turn it off for good! Also see if maybe keeping Aero Snap enabled might be a smart idea after all!
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    How Do I Disable Windows Snap?

    Want to turn off Aero Snap? Just follow these simple directions....

    1. Go to your Control Panel and select Ease of Access Center.
    2. Click on either Make the mouse easier to use or Make it easier to focus on tasks (the next option is on both menus).
    3. For either menus, click Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen.

    That's it - you're done! If you want more info, there are annotated screenshots below to show you exactly where to click on each menu.

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    Screenshots to Help You Find Your Way

    Control Panel (Step 1)Ease of Access (Step 2)Option 1 (Step 3)Option 2 (Step 3)
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    How Do I Enable Windows Snap?

    If you want to enable the Aero Snap feature, it may not be working for a couple reasons. First and foremost, check the instructions above and see if that "Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen" is checked. If it IS then simply unclick it and hit "Apply."

    If the above didn't fix the problem, it may be that you're using a version of Windows that either doesn't have Aero Snap (Windows Vista, XP, or earlier) OR you are running a version of Windows 7 that does not have the Aero functions. This might be the case on a low power computer like a netbook, which has had the OS optimized for lower processing power.

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    An Argument to Keep Aero Snap Enabled

    If I may add a bit of editorial to the end of this article, Windows Snap (and the larger "Aero" system) are designed to subtly enhance the speed of your work. Windows has been around a very long time and many users are very comfortable doing things a certain way. That being said, the fewer repetitive movements you make, the more efficient you'll be and the less stressed out you'll get.

    Before you disable Snap or other Aero features, give them a try and see if you can't modify your work habits. Microsoft turned these features on by default because they want to modernize their interface. It hasn't changed dramatically since the turn of the millennium, you know. Maybe you'll discover that an old dog CAN learn new tricks after all!