Overlapping vs. fully maximized windows on Mac?

As a number of folks have commented, it is often context dependent.

For example, photography is one of my hobbies. When editing I’ll have several applications open, in multiple spaces and using multiple monitors. I use Photoshop, so it will be assigned to one space (always the same) and the main edit window will be maximized. The tools will be on a separate monitor, and any plugins will open on the main monitor, maximized, completely hiding the main Photoshop window. I also use Photo Mechanic, and it will be on its on space, again always the same, with the browser open maximized on one monitor and the main image viewing window on another monitor maximized.

I had also recently been learning SQL. In this case I would have an online class open on one monitor, it may or may not be maximized, the SQL environment (I’m using SQLite on my Mac) on the main monitor, on one half, with BBEdit open on the other half to take notes. And then Safari or Preview open on the third monitor, perhaps both overlapping, with reference materials.

And throughout the day I may pop windows open on top of others. I may have mail open, with a specific mail message open over the Mail app, and I’ll pop open the calendar on top of a window on a second monitor to check something and then close it. Or pop messages open and closed throughout the day.

I do not use full screen, going as far as buying a license to Better Touch Tool just to make the green window button return to maximize.

Finally I use Bunch, Moom, and most recently Stay, to manage contexts and window placement. So for the examples above I have a Bunch for Photo Editing and one for Learning SQL that will open the apps, in the required spaces, and then arrange the windows how I like them. Having multiple monitors and lots of screen real estate really helps with window placement and management, although my wife laughs at my set up with all these monitors.

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care to share why you are moving to Stay (is it this app?). Interesting to know your experience of what advantage of Stay over , say Moom.

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Yes, you have linked to the correct app. And I’m not moving from Moom to Stay, I’m using both.

The one thing that Stay does which Moom does not, is that it automatically moves windows when monitors are connected or disconnected. (At least I do not think Moom does this.)

I share one of my monitors, using an HDMI switch, between my personal Mac and my work PC. At the end of the work day I shut down the PC and the monitor automatically switches to the Mac. And I’ve configured Stay to move windows to that Monitor when it is attached to the Mac.

Could Stay replace Moom? Perhaps. But as things are working they way I want that is a question I don’t need to answer.

I can happily recommend both Moom and Stay. And Bunch as well.

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great way to set this up :+1:

I’m a big fan of custom snap areas in better touch tool. Paired with some lower 2/3 left and right zones I can make the best use of my screen during conference calls putting faces across a row up top. Unless someone is presenting something and I’ll jump to a maximized view.
I also use btt to do an alternate split screen of 70/30 vs 50/50 by holding down option when I drag a window to the left or right edge of the screen. Great for taking notes from an article ir transcription.

@MevetS Thank you for pointing out Stay. Moom of course has its “workspaces” feature that can then be triggered by hotkeys. It sometimes gets confuddled — but by and large does what I need it to.

But what it doesn’t do, as you point out, is react automatically to monitors being added/removed. This might just make me use Stay and Moom together as well!

But I might need to contact the developer to confirm the following:

At home, my externals are a Dell 24”, and a Samsung 22”. At work, I use two Dell 24”, with one in portrait/vertical orientation. However, two of the Dells are the same model — one at home, the other at work.
I will therefore check with them whether Stay would be able to differentiate between the two, to know that my setup would be different at home and at work.

I hope it works for you.

It was suggested in another thread here on the forums by @shandy:

I just don’t like the way Apple has implemented Spaces. I was an avid user of TotalSpaces by BinaryAge until they didn’t carry it over to the M1 Mac, and they seem to not be trying to bring it into Apple Silicon. I tried Spaces for a couple of months after TotalSpaces went out, but it just didn’t fit into my natural workflow (maybe I couldn’t remove the muscle memory for TotalSpaces).

I’m interested to see if Stage Manager in Ventura will fill the void, but waiting for the Public Beta to give it a try.


Actually, I believe Moom can do this. You can select any custom window arrangement to be triggered by the number of monitors connected. Maybe not as powerful as you need, as it does not react to specific monitors being connected/disconnected, but rather the number of monitors connected. I use it to rearrange my windows when I connect my second monitor and it works pretty well.

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I miss the old Spaces soooo much (as it was in Sierra I think??). I never recovered from losing that feature…

Before I retired I had multiple Macs in the building that I would use as needed. So I preferred default or web based solutions. I still do.