How To Maximize Windows Screen Space (12 Tips)
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Just like the size of the table where you do your work on your computer, may it be a desktop or a laptop, the available space on your screen is also directly related to how productive you can be.
When they need to increase their working space, most people think about how they can buy or fit a bigger table in their room but equally important is how much you can fit in your computer screen.
So, let's enumerate the best tips and all the steps you need to take to maximize your working screen space.
Tip #1: Buy a bigger monitor.
This may be quite obvious, but the easiest way to increase your screen space is to buy a bigger monitor.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't check the next tips too, because you can always optimize it further.
Tip #2: Buy a second monitor.
If you can't swap your old monitor for something bigger, then you probably have a laptop. In that case, if you work on a fixed location most of your time, then you can buy a second monitor. Some people don't know they can actually add another screen to most laptops, and it's a big step in increasing your production levels (or decreasing, if you use it for things like checking on social media). Accordingly to some researches, you can increase it up to 35%.
Just make sure that your new monitor video input port matches your laptop output video port, or else you'll have to buy a separate adapter, and in the end, you may not get optimal user experience.
Tip #3: Increase your screen resolution.
If you right-click with your mouse on your Windows wallpaper, you'll get a popup menu and an option called Display settings. From there you can change your screen resolution to (hopefully) something bigger. It is recommended to choose the highest possible resolution but generally, the bigger it is, the smaller things will be on your screen.
If your fonts get too small for you to read, you can also Change the size of text, apps, and other items to 175% (or maybe even higher in some monitors), but be aware that if your goal is to increase screen space, then you're going the opposite way. Actually, if you change this option to other than 100%, some old apps (or software) won't display correctly on your screen, so just be aware of that.
Tip #4: Work with virtual screens (desktops).
What most people don't know is that they can move some of their work to a virtual screen. Just press the CTRL+WIN+Right Arrow keys, and you'll get to the second screen. Then press the CTRL+WIN+Left Arrow keys, and you'll get back to your first screen.
If you open an app on the second screen, it will stay there. If you're working on the first screen, you won't even notice it's open. If you want to move an app between those screens, just press the WIN+TAB keys and drag that app to Desktop 1 or Desktop 2.
Tip #5: Change the size of your icons and create desktop folders.
If you want to increase your desktop screen space, it's quite easy. Just right-click with your mouse on your Windows wallpaper, you'll get a popup menu and an option called View. Then you can select Small icons, and you'll instantly get way more screen real-estate.
You can also create a new folder and move your less used icons (or shortcuts) there, or you can move your most used ones to a new taskbar (for more details, check tip #6).
If you right-click with your mouse on an empty space on your taskbar and then on Taskbar settings, you can enable Automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode. That way the taskbar comes into view only when you move the mouse to whichever edge of the screen you've placed it on. Personally, I don't like to have this option enabled, but it will give you a little extra space on your desktop and in every app you're using. If you prefer to keep it visible all the time, you can shrink the height of the taskbar by enabling the Use small taskbar buttons option instead. Your taskbar will be a lot smaller, but it should be more than enough to most people.
Tip #6: Adding new toolbars to your taskbar.
This is another way to reach to your shortcuts, without having to have them visible on your desktop all the time.
All you have to do is to move or copy them to a new folder (let's call it Most used icons) wherever you want on your computer, then just right-click with your mouse on an empty space on your taskbar, select Toolbars and then New toolbar... Now you just have to find that Most used icons folder and press Select folder.
If you prefer a small toolbar, find an empty space, and right-click on it and you'll get a context menu. Now just deselect the Show title and Show Text options.
This option will allocate some space in your taskbar, so use it wisely. If you have a lot of favorite icons, then place them on a new folder inside that Most used icons folder. Also, do enable the Desktop toolbar and check it to see if it's useful enough to deserve an allocated space on your taskbar.
You can disable any toolbar just by right-clicking on an empty space on your taskbar, then select Toolbars and then deselect the ones you want to remove.
Tip #7: Moving the taskbar.
I've always had my taskbar on the bottom of the screen for as long as I remember, but truth be told, it's way more efficient on the left or on the right side of the screen, simply because you have more resolution (pixels) horizontally and apps don't usually use all that space because they are vertically oriented.
To do that, again, right-click on an empty space on your taskbar, unselect Lock the taskbar if needed, and then just click and drag it to one of the sides of your screen.
Tip #8: Never combine taskbar buttons.
If there's something that really annoys me with Windows is the way it arranges the taskbar icons. You could say that by hiding the app labels and grouping similar icons, it will give you that extra free space you've been looking for and I have to agree with you on that, but I just hate the time wasted choosing the right window when I have two instances of that app open. That's why this is one of my favorite settings and one that I always change right away when I lay my hands on a new PC.
You can find it by right-clicking with your mouse on an empty space on your taskbar and then choosing the Taskbar settings option. Then scroll down to Combine taskbar buttons and set it to Never.
Tip #9: The F11 key.
You can find this shortcut in most of the apps you use, and it is particularly useful in a web browser. This will make an app go fullscreen. It won't give you that much extra screen space when you're using that app, but sometimes it's that small increase that really makes a difference. Plus, it will help you a lot on focusing on whatever you're doing.
Tip #10: CTRL++, CTRL+- or CTRL+mouse wheel.
This is another great set of shortcuts to maximize the workspace on an app. This isn't something you'll find in every app you use, but at least you can use it in most web browsers. You can press CTRL+- or CTRL+mouse wheel down, to decrease the font size of a web page, thus allowing you to get way more content on your screen. This doesn't always work as expected, but you can always revert it back to 100% zoom in every browser's settings.
Tip #11: Picture-in-picture video.
What if you want to make the most of your screen real-estate and watch a video while working on your projects? Picture in Picture mode takes video content on a side and displays it in its own window. While this is not the ideal scenario, with Google Chrome web browser (and some other web browsers), you can watch a youtube video placed on top of the window (or app) you're currently using, thus, using only one screen. Ideally, you'd have a separate screen just for that (and you'd be enjoying a fullscreen experience with youtube or any other app) but if you've followed all these tips and successfully managed to optimize your screen space, a small video on a corner of your screen won't hinder your productivity as much as before.
Tip #12: Choose your apps carefully.
If you work with multiple windows side by side on the same screen, it's essential to choose your apps carefully. If you only need to take some notes, for example, use notepad (or notepad++) instead of Microsoft Word or Wordpad. Small apps usually "waste" less screen space with menus and ribbon interfaces, but if you really need to work with those apps, then you can temporarily hide or show the ribbon by pressing CTRL+F1.
If you spend most of your time in web browsers, then you should go to their settings and hide all those toolbars that you may have added thru time and ended up not using at all.
I got one last "tip" for you. I call it a bonus tip because you'll probably have to buy a new laptop and that may be impracticable for now. But when that time comes, consider buying a 2-in-1, because they usually rotate the screen when you turn them 90º, and you'll get plenty of vertical space. That's one of my favorite features of my laptop (check it here on Amazon), and I kinda end up using it more often than I expected before I bought it. It totally makes a difference when you're browsing on some web pages. If you have a tablet, you probably already know what I mean.
That's it. I hope you can improve your productivity with these tips, or, at least, have a better user experience while working (or playing) with your computer.
Got any other tips for increasing screen space? Share 'em in the comments!