By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers
Last week I raved about Stiletto, the best all-in-one Windows customizing program you can find. One of Stiletto's many functions—controlling the way individual windows display on your screen—is the sole purpose of another utility, WinSize. Because it's dedicated to that single function, WinSize is easier to set up and use.
WinSize has been under development for many months, and previous versions had a few problems. But the current version is outstanding, and is available free. Go tohttp://www.winfiles.com/apps/98/desktop-winmgrs.html and choose the WinSize link for a download. (The download file is about half a megabyte.) WinSize runs only under modern versions of Windows—Windows 95 and 98 and Windows NT.
What exactly does WinSize do? In its basic operation, WinSize fixes an annoying problem with the way Windows operates. When some programs start up, they place their windows in what seem like random positions on the screen. Others refuse to remember where you placed them the last time you ran the programs, and some programs even refuse to size their windows properly. (These programs tend to cover up the Taskbar, a definite no-no these days.)
The worst offender comes from Microsoft itself. It's the Windows Explorer, the file-and-folder program that's built into Windows. Explorer's behavior would be an embarrassment to a shareware author, but Microsoft seems immune to criticism about Explorer's poor manners. (Microsoft had a chance to fix Explorer in Windows 98 but chose not to.)
Explorer has too many problems to list here. Of the two main problems, one is fixable within Windows and the other requires Stiletto or WinSize.
By changing a setting in Windows, you can stop Explorer's dismal habit of opening a new window every time you double-click on a folder within a window. (You can end up with a dozen windows on the screen, hopelessly lost.) In both Windows 95 and 98, you can change this behavior by opening the View menu and choosing either Options or Folder Options.
The other problem is the way Explorer forgets the size, position and layout of its own windows. I'll leave out the technical reasons, but you should know that the problem is very real and extremely annoying. The solution offered by WinSize is so simple and easy that you'll probably wonder why Microsoft could have been so klutzy.
You put WinSize into your Startup folder so that it always runs when Windows boots up. The only sign of it is an icon in the Tray, at the corner of the Taskbar. When any window is open on the screen to the size and position you want, you click the WinSize icon (or press Ctrl-F10, the built-in hotkey). Then you click Tag Window in the WinSize configuration box.
From then on, what that particular window opens, WinSize will force it to take on the size and position you saved. WinSize also lets you specify whether Explorer windows (and some others) should show a status bar at the bottom, and it lets you customize each of the stored settings for Explorer file-and-folder windows so that they are individually sorted by date or any other criterion. You can also force individual windows to have different icon-view settings.
WinSize normally snaps windows to their preset locations only once, when the window opens. But you can tell WinSize to snap any (or all) windows back to that position once a second or so, and you can use WinSize to automatically snap any window back onto the screen if it strays off the edge.
You can fine-tune sizes and positions by editing them in an easy-to-use dialog box. A great little feature is the option of wildcards for window names, so you can control many different windows with one entry in the setup box. (Specifying "Microsoft Word*" will force all Word windows to a certain size and shape, for example. And using "C:\My*" will control both the My Documents folder and one called, for instance, folder and one called, for instance, My Games.
WinSize seems well behaved when coexisting with other utilities. I run it at alongside both Stiletto and Shove-It without a problem. (Shove-It does an amazing job of keeping windows from drifting off the screen, and works better at this than WinSize does.)