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Get WinSize, an essential fix for window size and placement problems
technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
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Get WinSize, an essential fix for window size and placement problems


Technofile for Aug. 1, 1999

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1999, The Syracuse Newspapers

The developer of one of the most useful add-on programs for Windows has stopped working on the software and is no longer supporting it. If you want to control how program windows behave, you should download this software before it becomes hard to get.

The programmer, Mads Villadsen, had just released a new beta-test version of WinSize, a program that controls window size and placement, when he lost all the original program code in a computer crash. A note in English on his Danish Web site tells the sad story: "I have lost the source for WinSize, and I have decided not to support it any more, nor will I develop a new version." Programmers need the source code to change any software.

WinSize corrects an annoying flaw in Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT (the three current versions of Microsoft's operating system). On its own, Microsoft Windows does not know how to force program windows to take on the same position and size they had the last time they ran. Some program windows behave on their own, but many do not. The result is a hodge-podge of window sizes and locations that change every time programs are run.

Even the Notepad program that is built into Windows shows this failing. Each time you run Notepad, its window opens in a different place on the screen, sometimes even taking on a different size.

I've used WinSize ever since the first test version a couple of years ago. The current version, WinSize 1.6 beta, has behaved very well and seems to be as stable as any other Windows program. (Beta versions often are buggy, but WinSize 1.6 does not seem to have any bugs.)

WinSize is free software. You can download a copy here.

Villadsen built a nearly perfect user interface into WinSize. You simply open the WinSize configuration dialog and click on an entry for a window from a list of all open windows. This tells WinSize to remember that window's size and position. Changing a specific window name to a general one makes a lot of senses, so that WinSize will recognize "Internet Explorer" and make all windows that start with that name the same size, for example. (You do this by typing a "wildcard" character after the first few words of the window title, like this -- "Internet Explorer*" -- when you save the settings.)

Once WinSize has saved that information, you can tell it to adjust any of the numbers in small or large increments. This kind of fine-tuning can make a big difference in the look of your desktop and the ease with which you work with programs. If windows are always in certain locations, you never have to hunt for them when you switch from one task to another.

On one of my PCs, I've set up WinSize to make a standard window pattern out of the many windows that my mail program opens. The main window is always a certain size (quite large) and is always positioned so that it covers most of the screen. Within that main window are sections that it uses. They behave properly without the help of WinSize. But message windows and reply windows try to cascade, with each one positioning itself a little lower and a little farther to the right than the window that came before.

This would be OK, I suppose, in some situations. But these message and reply windows do this even if the previous message or reply window isn't open. The effect is just like the one you see from Notepad: The window opens in various positions running diagonally down the screen each time you open the program.

WinSize gets rid of this annoying behavior in my mail software by placing all message windows in one place and all reply windows in another place. To make things even simpler, the message windows are all one size and the reply windows are all another size.

WinSize usually keeps track of dozens of windows on my main PC. Because it has to run all the time, WinSize takes up a slight amount of your PC's power. If it seems to slow things down, you can tell WinSize to check windows at longer intervals. Having it look for windows every half-second seems to work fine.


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