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I have several monitors connected to my computer. I'm looking for an application that would be able to

  • Save the location of all visible windows (let's call it a layout)
  • Permit restoration of a saved layout
  • Be able to save several layouts (e.g. in my case I would like to have a specific layout when I code in MATLAB, a specific layout when I do some server administration, etc.): when I restore a layout I'd like to be able to choose which layout I want, if possible with a configurable keyboard shortcut
  • Work on Windows 7
  • Free is preferred
  • As fast as possible when saving or restoring a layout
  • As bug-free as possible (no side-effect, identical restoration, etc.)
  • 4
    I'm not aware of any such program, but I would attempt to solve this by writing my own using AutoHotkey. This is the sort of thing AutoHotkey is good at and it would not be too difficult if you are a developer.... actually, this seems like a very useful idea. I bet many folks would like such a thing. – panofish Jun 20 '14 at 14:08
5

http://www.desksoft.com/WindowManager.htm

WindowManager helps you to improve your work flow by remembering and restoring the position and size of your programs and windows. Many programs don't remember their position and size between sessions and even Windows explorer does not always restore windows to their last position. This is where WindowManager steps in and makes sure your windows are placed exactly where you want them every time you open them. WindowManager even allows you to lock the position and size of any window, so that it will always open at the same spot no matter where you move it. The window handling is fully customizable and you can set up special rules for your favorite or most frequently used windows.

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5

I've tried all of the mentioned items in here.

  • With the paid program called Task Layout I could not get it to save any of my layouts in Windows 10.

  • The Software WilMa (Windows Layout Manager) by Stefan Didak was good and easy to use. However it captured windows that weren't actually there and it also didn't have an easy solution for startup and auto-load of a layout config on Windows startup. It was fast and seemed powerful, I just personally am not very familiar with command line so maybe you would have better luck. One more thing on WilMa is it hasn't been updated since 2010 according to the developer's website; however, I did not come across any features that to me were broken or unusable. Here is a link to this one if you want to try it out.

  • I couldn't get the Wizardsoft application to do what I wanted.

  • Finally the software WindowManager by DeskSoft was the best. It allowed for easy startup of software hidden in task bar and auto-load of your layout on startup. It has a strong layout manager and lots of options for individual programs and windows. It also allows you to easily set many triggers like coming back from sleep, logon, remote connection, etc. Another cool feature was the ability to assign a hotkey to move windows from one virtual desktop to another. This is a super-handy feature that I've always wanted. When viewing a Chrome window on my desktop 2 now I can quickly move that window to desktop 1 and it gives you the option to follow the window to the new desktop or remain. Very powerful solution IMO. The program has also seemed to have been updated in the last year. The others haven't been updated in over a year or even longer.

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3

TaskLayout is a small, portable, freeware Windows utility which allows to save/restore the desktop layout (a set of specified apps/windows with corresponding position on screen) in a single click.

This tool works in Windows XP and newer OSes.

This Demo describes how TaskLayout works.

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  • 1
    Welcome to Software Recommendations, and thanks for sharing your knowledge! Could you please edit your post and include how the other requirements (e.g. works on Win7, free) are met? Thanks a lot! – Izzy Nov 10 '14 at 10:39
  • Looks nice! I asked about multi-monitor support, I'll edit the answer accordingly. – Franck Dernoncourt Nov 10 '14 at 14:56
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    TaskLayout does not operate correctly on Windows 10. When you "install" it adds an icon to the notification area that is hidden by default. When you find this and gain access to the UI, you can select Save Layout. However, you are given a long list of applications and you must click on each one individually to save it. This is not 1-click. The window lists a large number of processes, most of which are not visible. User's do not care about invisible processes. This app did not pass my 5 minute test. – Brian Leeming Sep 19 '16 at 22:39
  • Since version 0.7.0.0, TaskLayout is no longer freeware. – John Y Aug 7 '19 at 20:32
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This is an old question but I thought I would help the people who are coming back to read the answer to this question. I think this is actually a common program that people think that they want.

First, let me tell you that there are TONS of Window Layout Managers. Second, I've tried a lot of them, and let me just warn you that you might not get the results that you were looking for. The problem is that you might have a certain layout in ming but you will inevitably need to open up another window for some other information that you need with this layout. Then, where should this window be placed? And, then what happens when you need to keep the window open and even open another one? It starts to get really confusing. It's not the ultimate solution that I thought it would be. I thought I could combine the idea of virtual desktops with saved layouts but it didn't work out as planned.

But, I'm not going to stop you from trying though! Here is a list of programs and although I haven't tried most of them, I tried a few of the popular ones and even paid for 2 of them. (Voluntarily donated.) It took me a long time to even create this list because I was looking for the "perfect" window layout manager. But, I later found out that it wasn't the program that was the problem. It was my idea of what I wanted.

Here are the Window Layout Managers I did find over 2 years and when I get the extra time, I'll update this answer and write in more detail my experiences with them. So, in no particular order, here they are:

  • Display Fusion
  • WindowManager
  • bug.n
  • DockWin
  • AquaSnap
  • TaskLayout
  • Maxto
  • HasTWM
  • WindowGrid
  • Mosaico
  • PowerToys
  • SnapIt
  • Gridmove
  • Stack
  • WinDock
  • WindowPad
  • WinPad Layout
  • Windows Layout Manager
  • ShellFolderFix
  • WinSplit Revolution
  • Desklayer
  • PowerResizer
  • IconsRestorer
  • Iconoid
  • Nifty Windows
  • Window XPad
  • WS Display Settings
  • Divvy
  • Dexpot

As I told you, there are a lot of them! As I was typing them, I realized that a few of the programs are not technically window layout managers so I'll think about it and remove them if they really don't fit in the category. What I think is enlightening is that so many developers (including Microsoft) created a window layout manager and they all stopped any real significant development after a certain point. I think it kinda' shows that it doesn't really do what people initially think it will do. This is what exactly happened to me!

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  • Thanks, can DisplayFusion save visible windows' locations and later restore the layout? – Franck Dernoncourt May 31 at 1:55
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    Frank, I've got to change my answer on DisplayFusion. I haven't used it in about 5 years but I went to try it and maybe it's because the changes in Windows versions but the program didn't work for me (with respect to window layouts). I just wanted to let you know so you don't make a bad decision based upon my recommendations. – QuietInMontana Jun 11 at 2:45
  • would you mind adding links to their homepages? – Jason S Jul 23 at 16:07
  • Not a problem. Would you mind giving me a link of the home pages? I'll just add them after the name of the program. Thanks. – QuietInMontana Aug 5 at 21:43
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As suggested by @panofish, here's a link (mirror) to AutoHotkey that does much of what's required by the OP. The part of being able to save several layouts would require to do some editing of the autohotkey script, possibly creating 1 storage file per layout. And, it's free.

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I like and use Windows Layout Manager by Stefan Didak. This program:

  • Is free
  • Works on (at least) Windows 7 and Windows 10
  • Allows you to define and restore multiple window sessions
  • Supports multiple monitors
  • Has handy features to test a new configuration or to capture your current window locations
  • Has many options for how to select a window and what actions to take on managed windows
  • Seems reasonably fast

It works for me most of the time. I find it crashes once in a while, but everything is back to normal as soon as you restart it.

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