Randomly Found Software: Screen Recycler / Moving Windows over the top-border of the Screen under Mac OS X

Finally, one of the most important problems I had with Mac OS X is about to be solved: Moving Windows over the top of the screen. This may sound like a stupid feature nobody uses – but I think this is mainly due to the fact that most users of other OS’s dont even know that this is possible because they basically use window-moving with the mouse dragging the titlebar.

Under Linux, many Window-Managers support moving of windows when pressing the Alt-Key and dragging a window with the mouse at an arbitrary place – which gives you the possibility to move windows over the top of the screen.

Well, its not surprising that a flexible user-friendly system like Linux offers you the best of everything, but even under Windows, you can move Windows by your Keyboard without additional software, and you can move it over the top-border of the screen – at least as long as the program doesnt use any special framework, but this is usually only done by games or adware (and of course, if an application doesnt want to be dragged out the screen, the system wont force it by default). With Ctrl+Space you can open the WM’s context menu.

And well, under Mac OS X, its not. As far as I know it violates their interface guidelines. But I actually dont see, why. To me it is ok that you have the guideline not to be able to drag a window out of the screen completely – but even under mac os x, you can drag it out of any border of the screen – except for the top. Having a possibility to drag windows with the mouse on the other edges of the window, I wouldnt see any problem with dragging it over the top of the screen, because you can drag it back again, but of course, per default, the windows can only be dragged using the titlebar. The default window management of mac os x feels – to me – like a slightly modified TWM.

And it seems that I am not the only person who thinks this way, thus, there are a lot of (expensive) applications trying to provide a better window management. However, all of them I know have problems with X11-Applications, and all of them are unable to drag windows over the top of the screen. But well, for me this is really an important issue – I always used this feature under Linux and even under Windows, and there were a few times when I wished I had it under Mac OS X, too.

The first time when I realized I was missing it was when using a Software I developed myself at that time. I had a lot of core-things to do, especially because I just had to port anything to mac os x, and well, I would have modified the UI in a way that the window can be resized soon, but as every programmer will know, UI-Programming is boring and takes a long time, and is something you like to postpone when there are important bugs to fix. Well, I couldnt do this. Mac OS X didnt let me.

Then I had a few problems with GIMP – but meanwhile I switched to FVWM for X11-Applications.

And then there is sometimes strange behaviour when switching from a big screen to a smaller screen, when some windows are too big and have to be resized, I simply cannot resize them the way I want because I cannot reach the bottom-edge of them. The only way is to first maximize them and then resize them again. And well, there can always be bugs. I simply dont want to belong to the kind of person who throws a piece of software away just because it sometimes places its windows at a wrong place.

Well now, I was told about a software called Screen Recycler. It offers you a virtual second VNC-Screen. And well, that was the solution to this problem. Adding a virtual second screen, placing it over the main screen, starting a vnc-client – and voila, I can drag windows into that second virtual screen. Unfortunately, neither WindowWrangler nor Mercury Mover seem to support this – they cant move the window into the other screen, I have to use the mouse. Also, to get the window back, I have to look at the vnc-client to find the titlebar. But who cares. Its better than it was before.

With the trial-version, Screen Recycler will stop working after 20 minutes connection time, and you will have to reconnect. But I dont care about that.

Well, lets summarize what you need to get a proper window-management under Mac OS X.

If you want to drag windows with your keyboard, you can use WindowWrangler, but it lacks of a lot of features. So you may want to use Mercury Mover. It costs you 20$. Then, if you want the (MS-Windows-Default) behaviour of maximizing windows when you reach the top of the screen, you will need Cinch for 7$. Then you want to have some sort of taskbar – Fantasktik is the only one I have found – 15$. And then to be able to drag windows over the top of the screen, you need Screen Recycler, as mentioned. It costs 30$. So you will have to pay 72$ for a reasonable window-management – additionally to the money you payed for your Mac, and not supporting all applications, and of course, only hacked together.

A current Windows-7-License costs you 200$. OEM-Licenses are even cheaper, costing only 100$. And of course, Linux doesnt cost anything at all. It has all these features integrated by default. It has a dock-like taskbar. There is almost no Software with a Mac OS X version but without a Windows-version. You can have your Unix-Tools through Cygwin, most of the free software runs under Windows. You can run older software, too. Of course, the Dock-Like Taskbar from Windows 7 is a mixture of KDE’s Window-Grouping-Feature and Mac OS X’s Dock, i.e. „stolen“ somehow – that is, Windows took a good feature of Mac OS X and other UIs into their System, while Mac OS X only does its own stuff instead of learning from other UI-Designs.

So I wonder what is the point to the UI of Mac OS X which is said to be „superior“ to others. When talking to Mac-Fanboys, this seems to be a main argument pro-Mac. To me, Mac OS X is an interesting operating system – as well as open solaris, movitz or plan9 is – but nothing more. I am currently working with it, but this is likely to change as soon as I find time to set up my MacBook again (because I have to use some Windows-Software which I currently run under Boot Camp Windows and VirtualBox). I really dont see why it is said to be „user friendly“. Of course, Linux is for people who want a fully customizable OS, and therefore asks you to configure it before actually using it, which is often considered complicated, but I dont see the difference to Windows – why is the UI so much better than the Windows-UI? You cant even change the Look&Feel. Under Windows you will get a lot of freeware which is rather „low quality“, but at least its free. But for commercial software, I dont see any difference in Quality – in many cases, its basically the same software. So, also the „Quality“ of Software is not the point.

Please dont misunderstand me – the operating system itself is not bad. To me it is important to distinguish between the OS and the UI. For example, I dont like the actual Windows-OS – i.e. the NT Kernel, etc. – to me it doesnt look modular. Seems like there are special cases for vitally anything, like accessing Block-Devices, accessing Screens, accessing other sorts of devices, shared memory and IPC-Stuff, etc., while under Mac OS X, you have character devices and block devices in your /dev-Path which you can access as if they were files. It seems more modular to me. But the Windows-UI is – in my oppinnion – superior to the Mac OS UI. And Linux combines both benefits. Unfortunately it is not recommended to install Linux on modern MacBooks (even though I didnt have any problems with it).


3 Responses to Randomly Found Software: Screen Recycler / Moving Windows over the top-border of the Screen under Mac OS X

  1. fidel sagt:

    But the Windows-UI is – in my oppinnion – superior to the Mac OS UI.

    100% true


  2. John Clayton sagt:

    I was interested to know if Zooom/2 helps you with any of the workflow you require. I know all these apps cannot handle X11 based programs (Zooom/2 also has this problem), because the Accessibility APIs that most of the apps are using to implement the features are *not* supported by the X11 server on Mac (I did speak to the developer of the X11 system on Mac about this – but only time will provide an answer).

    I’d be keen on knowing if you think Zooom/2 could help you – and if not, perhaps you’ve got some ideas of the things it *should* be doing to fill your requirements gap.


    John Clayton

  3. dasuxullebt sagt:

    Thank you for your comment. Sorry for taking so long to publish it, somehow it was marked as Spam by WordPress.

    Yes, Zooom/2 was a nice piece of software, and I already considered buying it – unfortunately, as you said, X11 is not supported. If some of the solutions there are would support X11, I would (immediately) buy it ;-) . And unfortunately, my Trial License has expired, so I cannot check whether it properly supports the dragging over the top of the screen when having Screen Recycler turned on. But thats no problem, since I will reinstall Mac OS X in the next days anyway. Then I’ll let you know.

    And – as a personal note – I have to say, that I really appreciate that software developers are interested in their users.

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