How to Enable a Mission Control-like feature in Windows 7 & 8

One of great feature found in Mac OS is Mission Control, which allows you to find open program windows or hide all open windows to show the desktop without having to painstakingly click through each window at a time. Want to view all open browser windows? No problem, Mission Control lets you temporarily tile all browser windows on the screen at once, giving you a clear view of what’s happen. In comparison, Windows does not have such a feature. You are limited to using “ALT + TAB” which only shows thumbnails of open programs. Luckily, Mission Control has effectively been “cloned” for Windows, and it’s called SmallWindows. This application functions well on all recent versions of Windows from Vista through to Windows 8.

Navigate to the developers website where you can download SmallWindows. Once you have downloaded and successfully installed the program, launch the program.

SmallWindows-developers-website

On first start up, a welcome message appears requesting if you would like SmallWindows to open every time you start up your computer. Click “Yes” to continue. If you decide “No” but want to enable it later, this can be configured in Settings.

SmallWindows-welcome-message

When the program is running it can be found in the system tray where you can access settings or the mini windows feature. Click on the miniature windows option to view a default version of SmallWindows.

SmallWindows-running-program-options

The miniature windows will appear as below.

SmallWindows-Related-miniature-windows-only

Alternatively, to configure the settings on SmallWindows, select settings from the system tray instead.

SmallWindows-Properties

In Settings, you can configure your 4 corner Hot Zones. For our example, we set it to show related applications if you push your cursor into the top left corner of the screen, to show the desktop if you move your cursor to the top right of the screen, and to show all open programs if you move the cursor to the bottom left of the screen.

SmallWindows-Properties-Hot-Zone

From now on, if a user open a particular web browser and wants to view all related browser windows open on their computer, they merely have to glide their mouse to the top left hand corner of the screen. You can also see that the miniature Windows are marked from 0 in ascending order. If you wanted to view the desktop, you can just navigate your mouse to the top right hand corner of the screen.The beauty of hot zones….

SmallWindows-Related-miniature-windows-only

Instead of using your mouse to access the Hot Zones you have configured, you can configure Hot Key activation. For example, to put in a Hot Key activation code for the related Hot zone select the [None] button.

SmallWindows-Hotkey-Activation-None-button

The Set Hotkey dialog box appears. From the key droplist we choose the “F1″ key from the drop down list.

SmallWindows-Set-Hotkey-F1-Key

For Modifiers, tick the “Ctrl” check box. Click “OK” to continue.

SmallWindows-Set-Hotkey-Modifiers-OK

Another handy feature in the settings page is that you can nominate particular Windows to  be excluded from miniature or show desktop. For example, if you wanted to prevent Google Chrome, you just have to select the Exclude Windows button in Settings, click “Add” button and type in its name. It should appear as below if configured correctly.

SmallWindows-Exclude-Windows-Google-Chrome

There are a few other options available in settings such as configuring colour options or enabling Live update of windows.

SmallWindows is a great productivity booster for people who tend to have many applications open at once. Please post your experiences or questions below in the comments.