Even Geekier Window Resizing

July 23rd, 2011

One of the UI concessions OS X Lion makes to a time-honored Microsoft Windows feature, is the addition window-resizing hotspots on all edges of a given window. Traditionally, Mac users have been limited to resizing windows only through the use of the “Zoom” button in the title bar, or by clicking and dragging the resize control at the bottom-right corner of a window.

Now you can grab any edge of a window and grow or shrink it to suit your wants. What I didn’t notice until today, however, are a few interesting variations on window resizing that are facilitated by pressing a modifier key while resizing.

Hold the option key while resizing to cause changes in the ¬†window’s width or height to be made in equal measure on each side of the window. For example, clicking and dragging the right edge of a window with option depressed will cause the left side to grow or shrink in mirrored fashion. For lack of a better term, I’ll call this balanced resizing.

Hold the shift key while resizing to impose constrained resizing. Whatever direction you grow or shrink the window, adjustments will be made so that the ratio of height to width remains the same.

These are some pretty geeky resizing modes. I don’t foresee using them particularly often, but it’s interesting to know they are there.

(I did some preliminary Googling before sharing this, and didn’t see any documentation come up. I’ve since noticed that Matt Gemmell already¬†shared this tip in a Twitter update.)

10 Responses to “Even Geekier Window Resizing”

  1. Grant Hutchins Says:

    I also find it interesting that you can choose to press the modifier keys at any time, and that it takes the proportions and center point at the moment the key was pressed, not the original ones.

    Seems like the wrong choice to me, but it is interesting nonetheless.

  2. Henrik N Says:

    Print Screen with Shift+Cmd+4 works similarly. Opt makes it resize from center. Shift doesn’t constrain the ratio but instead locks one dimension.

  3. Adam Alexander Says:

    You can even use them both together!! Very cool thanks for the tip.

  4. Todd Fincannon Says:

    These are the same modifier keys that Adobe Creative Suite applications have used for resizing objects since forever.

  5. Kurt Tappe Says:

    @Todd: You need to go even further back. I seem to recall these modifiers date to MacPaint. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall using them in SuperPaint in 1989 and I thought even then that they were Mac standards.

  6. Reginald P. Linux Says:

    Linux did it first.

  7. Adam Wright Says:

    I’m a fan of the surprisingly little known use of the cmd to resize and move windows that don’t have the focus, without giving them focus.

  8. getaneditor Says:


  9. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    @getaneditor – Thanks, fixed.

    To those of you who find my typos so offensive as to warrant snarkiness in the tone of your comments, maybe you should find another blog to read. I aim to inform and entertain, by devoting a small fraction of my time to writing articles here. Mistakes will happen. Deal with it, or move along, please.

  10. Marc Respass Says:

    This is a cool tip. I accidentally stumbled on another. If you point at a flat edge (doesn’t work at corners) and move the other way, you can drag the window. Point at the right edge and move left or right to resize but move up or down and you drag the window. Once you start, you can move any way you want. Same with top or bottom (start moving sideways).

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