MaxMax: Create Virtual Borders for Your Screen

Last year, I found myself in a quandary. With a new, large widescreen monitor, I felt I wasn’t making good use of the space I had available to me. I could so easily have had several windows open at the same time, but there wasn’t an easy way to do that with how Windows treats its, well, windows.

And that real estate space can be quite valuable. You can keep a document open there – perhaps as a reference – while you open other windows on the side. It’s not exactly what the Window Snap function does either, since that evenly divides your screen; the ability to give you control on how to divide your screen can be priceless. And that’s where MaxMax shines.

The reason MaxMax works so well is because most websites are made with a 1024×768 resolution in mind, with only a few stretching it to 1280×720. This is the reason you see those empty borders around many web pages.

So why waste that space when MaxMax can make the most of it?

My Scenario

I had tried all the sidebar solutions out there, from the default one baked into the OS to third-party apps like Google Desktop. But they just weren’t giving me what I wanted. Here’s the basic layout I was looking for:

It might seem a bit odd, but I have a habit of watching movies and TV shows while browsing the web or working on the side. I also like to keep a chat window open at all times, usually running Pidgin (not in the above screenshot) since it gives me a tabbed view of all my chats. And I’m still a plain-text guy when it comes to reminders and lists, so an open Notepad is always needed.

Here’s the problem. I can align all these windows the way I want them, but the moment I start a browser or MS Word or any other program and click that Maximize button, it takes up all the room on the screen. If I try and adjust the window individually, its formatting can go for a toss – the best example being that of Google Chrome, which gains that unsightly margin above the tabs when not maximized.

MaxMax promised the best of both worlds: Create a virtual border on the screen for maximized windows to adhere to, and use the rest of the space however you want.

Simple and Efficient

Once you have MaxMax installed and running, it’s super-simple to use. The intuitive options let you decide which side of the screen you want to fence off, and determine the area in pixels. You can’t key in the area, but clicking the arrows lets you adjust it quickly enough.

As you customize your margins, a little preview window will show you exactly what a maximized window will look like on your screen, with the grey parts indicating it won’t take up that area.

You can also set the ‘Suppress key’ in this area, which is Left Shift by default. This key lets you open a maximized window in the full screen size again, without closing MaxMax. Just hold the key down and click the maximize button.

And yes, you can choose whether you want MaxMax to run at Startup or not.

Exclusions

Of course, there are some programs whom you want to always take up the full screen space. I can’t imagine working in GIMP or Photoshop with some part of the screen cordoned off – you need every bit of real estate you can get there.

So MaxMax lets you add some software to a list of ‘Exclusions’, so that it doesn’t affect that window’s maximized size. However, you do need to know the program’s EXE file, as that’s a manual entry you need to type in. So in my case, I had to add “GIMPPortable.exe” to the list manually.

Performance

MaxMax does just what it promises, and does it well. Any new window you open and click the maximize button will snap into your virtual grid like that is where the screen was ending. It’s fantastic!

A slight downside is that it retains the window border, which can be visible on the side where your fence is ending. It’s a little ugly, but not a deal-breaker at all.

Multiple Screens

If you use Multiple Screens, MaxMax can be even more handy. It lets you set margins for each display hooked up to your computer, which means you can utilize space that much better. Think of a scenario like this, where it can be a great working space:

The maximized windows in the centre of your view grab your attention, while the spaces at the side can be customized for small windows – sticky notes, reminders, calculators, chat windows, and whatever else you want.

Uses

While the vertical split of the screen is the most common and obvious use of MaxMax, you can do a lot by fencing off space for other utilities, like a toolbar for a music player or a news ticker. Here’s a scenario that maxes great use of your space while giving you everything you need:

The borders you make are really limited only by your imagination. Think of how you would like to work and start creating fences accordingly. You can consider putting your maximized window in the middle of your screen and fencing off all the sides, or as a developer, split the screen vertically to run a debug terminal. The possibilities are endless.


Summary

MaxMax lets you create virtual borders in your screen to demarcate an area for a maximized window, getting rid of empty borders and making the most of your screen space

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