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.

Windows 10 FancyZones 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 proceed creating a layout with zone 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. Click the Templates tab.

  5. Specify how many windows you want to have in a layout.

    Quick note: If you have multiple displays, you will also have the option to set up a unique layout per monitor.
  6. Select one of the available templates, including Focus, Columns, Rows, Grid, or Priority Grid.

    Quick tip: You can always click the Edit selected layout to customize it. However, if you are planning to modify the template significantly, it is best to create a custom layout.

    FancyZones templates
    FancyZones templates
  7. (Optional) Clear the Show space around zones or customize the space around zones option.

  8. 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 windows will move between zone, 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.

  4. Click the Custom tab.

  5. Select the Create new custom option.

    PowerToys windows manager create custom layout
    PowerToys windows manager create custom layout
  6. Click the Edit selected layout button.

  7. Click the Add new zone button.

    Custom layout creator
    Custom layout creator
  8. Drag the zone to the position you want and resize the zone like any other window using the mouse.

    FancyZones custom layout creation
    FancyZones custom layout creation
  9. Repeat steps No. 7 and 8 to create additional zones depending on number of windows you want to display on the screen.

  10. Under the “Name” field, specify a name for the layout.

    PowerToys FancyZones layout name
    PowerToys FancyZones layout name
  11. Click the Save and apply button.

    Quick tip: You can always click the trash can button to delete the custom template and start over.
  12. (Optional) Clear the Show space around zones or customize the space around zones option.

  13. 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 in the instructions below you will get recommendations of the best settings you should consider to enable.

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 Shift key to activate zones while dragging (recommended).
    • Use a non-primary mouse button to toggle zone activation.
    • Show zones on all monitors while 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 current 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 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.