Windows manager

How to manage windows with PowerToys FancyZones on Windows 10

PowerToys FancyZones tool allows you to manage windows on the screen with complex layouts, and in this guide, you'll learn the steps to use and configure the tool on Windows 10.

PowerToys FancyZones windows manager

FancyZones is a tool part of the PowerToys app that allows you to manage windows on the screen, similar to the Snap Assist feature on Windows 10 but using more complex layouts.

However, unlike Snap Assist, with FancyZones, you can create custom layouts, and you have access to more customization settings allowing you to snap windows just the way you like it to make you more productive. Although you can use this tool on any display, it is especially useful for large monitors with a lot of real estate screen and multi-monitor setups since you can create unique layouts per each available display.

In this guide, you will learn the steps to use the FancyZones feature in PowerToys to manage window layouts on Windows 10.

How to use FancyZones to manage windows on screen

FancyZones allows you to create layouts to manage windows with pre-defined templates, and you can even create custom layouts with the built-in editor. 

You must first download and install PowerToys on Windows 10, and then you can continue with the steps below.

Enable FancyZones

To enable the PowerToys windows manager, use these steps:

  1. Open PowerToys.

  2. Click on FancyZones.

  3. Turn on the Enable FancyZones toggle switch. 

    Enable FancyZones in PowerToys
    Enable FancyZones in PowerToys

Once you complete the steps, you can create a layout with zones to snap windows across monitors.

Create zone layout with templates

To set up a zone layout with templates to manage windows, use these steps:

  1. Open PowerToys.

  2. Click on FancyZones.

    Quick tip: If PowerToys is already open, you can open the layout editor with the Windows key + ` keyboard shortcut.
  3. Click the Launch layout editor button.

    Launch layout editor
    Launch layout editor
  4. Select one of the available templates, including Focus, Columns, Rows, Grid, or Priority Grid.

    FancyZones templates
    FancyZones templates
    Quick tip: You can always click the Edit button to customize the layout. However, if you plan to modify the template significantly, it is best to create a custom layout. Also, if you have multiple displays, you will also have the option to set up a unique layout per monitor.
  5. Click the Apply button.

Once you complete the steps, the layout will be created, and you can now start dropping windows on each zone. You would do this by holding down the Shift key, dragging, and dropping the window to the position you want.

If you checked the option to override the Windows Snap shortcut, when using the Windows key + arrow shortcut, the window will move between zones instead of the quadrants available with Snap Assist.

Create custom zone layout

To create a custom FancyZones layout to organize your windows, use these steps:

  1. Open PowerToys.

  2. Click on FancyZones

  3. Click the Launch layout editor button.

    Launch layout editor
    Launch layout editor
  4. Under the “Custom” section, click the Create new layout button.

    Create new layout
    Create new layout
  5. Confirm a name for the layout – for example, Center Display.

  6. Select the layout type, including Grid to create layouts that are horizontally or vertically. Or Canvas (recommended) to create layouts freely.

    Choose layout type
    Choose layout type
  7. Click the Create button.

  8. Click the Add new zone button.

    Add new zone option
    Add new zone option
  9. Drag the zone to the position you want and resize it like any other window using the mouse.

    PowerToys create custom windows layout
    PowerToys create custom windows layout
  10. Repeat steps No. 8 and 9 to create additional zones depending on the number of windows you want to display on the screen.

  11. Click the Save and apply button.

    Quick tip: You can always click the edit button to edit the zone, duplicate, change the name, distance to highlight adjacent zones, or delete the zone.
  12. Click the Apply button.

Once you complete the steps, the layout will be set up, and you can now start dropping windows on each zone. You would do this by holding down the Shift key, dragging, and dropping the window to their position.

Customize FancyZones settings

The FancyZones feature available with PowerToys includes several settings you can customize to control the layouts and windows behaviors. You can adjust these settings to your preferences, but you will get recommendations of the best settings you should consider to enable in the instructions below.

To customize the FancyZones settings, use these steps:

  1. Open PowerToys.

  2. Click on FancyZones.

  3. Under the “Zone behavior” section, you can customize the behavior while dragging windows to each zone:

    • Hold the Shift key to activate zones while dragging (recommended).
    • Use a non-primary mouse button to toggle zone activation.
    • Show zones on all monitors while dragging a window. 
    • Allow zones to span across monitors.

    Zone behavior
    Zone behavior
  4. Under the “Window behavior” section, you can customize the behavior of snapped windows:

    • Override Windows Snap shortcut (Win + Arrow) to move windows between zones (recommended).
    • Keep Windows in their zones when the screen resolution changes (recommended).
    • During zone layout changes, windows assigned to a zone will match new size/positions (recommended).
    • Move newly created windows to their last known zone (recommended). 
    • Move newly create windows to the currently active monitor.
    • Restore the original size of windows when unsnapping.

    Windows behavior
    Windows behavior
  5. Under the “Appearance” section, you can customize the zone and windows opacity and transparency, respectively, and the highlight, inactive, and border color.

    Appearance settings
    Appearance settings
  6. Under the “Excluded apps” section, you can specify the name of the app you do not want to snap on zones when using the Snap Assist feature.

After you complete the steps, the windows manager feature will behave according to your settings selection.