App Switching and Snapping in Windows 8.1

Before you start

Objectives: Learn how to use the app switcher and how to snap apps in Windows 8.1.

Prerequisites: no prerequisites.

Key terms: app, switching, snapping, snap, windows 8.1


 App Switching

In order to demonstrate how app switching works, we have to have several running apps. In our case we have Calendar and OneDrive open. In order to show the switcher, we can press WIN key + TAB. Also, we can go with our mouse to the upper left corner of the screen and pull the mouse down when the first thumbnail appears.

1 Swtitcher

App Switcher

This is great when working on tablet computer. To open the switcher on the tablet computer we simply slide from the left side of the screen, and then when the thumbnail appears we simply slide back. On desktop computer we can also use the Taskbar which became available with the update from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.

App Snapping

What if we want to have more than one metro app on the screen at the same time? For this we can use the snap feature. In order to support this our resolution has to be at least 1024 x 768. If we want to open three applications at once, we’ll need to increase the resolution to 1600 x 1200 pixels or more. For four applications our resolution has to be 2560 x 1440 pixels or more.

In order to snap the app, simply click on the app from the switcher and start dragging it on the screen. The empty space and the vertical bar will appear, and that shows us on which side of the screen the app will be placed.

 2 App Snap

Application Snap Example

The vertical bar has three small dots on the center, which indicates that the space for each app can be changed.

Closing Apps

To close the app we can simply drag it to the bottom of the screen. Also, on the switcher we can right click an app, and then choose the “Close” option. Notice the “Insert Left” and “Insert Right” options. We can snap applications in that way too.

3 Right Click

App Right Click

Keep in mind that all that we talked about in this article mostly considers metro apps, but it is also in most cases applicable to ordinary desktop apps. We can snap up to four apps on single monitor, or eight apps on two monitors.

Also, we can now close apps from the Taskbar, and by using the standard X button on the upper right corner of the app.

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