Windows XP: Moving and Sizing Windows

Lesson 4: Moving and Sizing Windows



By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Use and understand the function of the Minimize, Maximize, and Restore buttons
  • Move a window using the Title bar
  • Click and drag to resize a window
  • Tile and cascade windows
  • Switch between windows

Minimizing, maximizing, and restoring windows

Windows allows you to easily enlarge, hide, or shrink a window using the Minimize, Maximize, and Restore buttons.

The Minimize button is among the three buttons at the right end of the title bar. This button has a small dash (or minus sign). The Minimize button shrinks the window and places it on the taskbar while leaving the program running.

The Maximize button, which looks like a small window, is used to enlarge a window to cover the entire desktop.

Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons

After a window is maximized, the Maximize button changes to the Restore button. It looks like two windows near one another. If you click the Restore button, the maximized window shrinks to its previous size (the size it was before you maximized it).

Minimize, Restore, and Close buttons

Sizing windows

Sizing windows is slightly different from minimizing, restoring, and maximizing. Note: You cannot size a window if it has been maximized.

To change the size of a window:

  1. Hover the mouse pointer over any corner of the window. (You can also place the pointer over the borders of the window.)
  2. The mouse pointer changes into a double-headed arrow.
  3. Click and hold down the left mouse button.
  4. Drag the arrow out or in to make the window larger or smaller.
  5. Release the mouse button when the window is the size you want.
Double-headed arrow

Make sure the mouse pointer changes into a two-headed arrow before you try to size the window.

Moving a window using the title bar

Sometimes a window may obscure an item you want to click on or view.

To move a window:

  1. Place the mouse pointer over the title bar (located at the top of the window).
  2. Click and hold down the left mouse button. (You cannot move a window that has been maximized other than to use the Minimize button.)
  3. Drag the window to the place where you want it, then release the mouse button.

Tiling and cascading windows

Sometimes moving and sizing multiple windows can create confusion. To keep better track of multiple windows, try cascading or tiling the windows.

  • Cascading windows are layered on top of each other.
  • Tiled windows are next to each other. Windows can be tiled horizontally or vertically. If windows are tiled horizontally, they appear one above another. If windows are tiled vertically, they appear side by side.

To cascade or tile windows:

  1. With two or more windows open, right-click on a blank area of the taskbar.
  2. Choose Cascade Windows, Tile Windows Horizontally, or Tile Windows Vertically.

To return to your previous window arrangement:

  1. Right-click on a blank area of the taskbar.
  2. Select the Undo command.

To show the desktop:

  1. Right-click on a blank area of the taskbar.
  2. Choose Show the Desktop.

Switching between windows

Windows XP allows you to have more than one program open at the same time. It also allows you to easily move between open windows. The window you select becomes the active window. When a window is active on the desktop, its title bar (and button on the taskbar) is blue. When a window is inactive, the title bar is light blue.

To switch between windows:

  1. Open more than one program.
  2. Size the windows so they're open on the desktop.
  3. Click on any part of the window you want to work with.


  • Click the program buttons on the taskbar to activate the window you want to work with.

Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows XP keeps the taskbar from getting too cluttered. It groups the buttons when too many accumulate on the taskbar. For example, when you open Outlook Express you'll see one button on the taskbar. However, if you have three or more email message windows open, one button represents the Outlook Express's open windows.

Simply click the button to select from the pop-up list of open windows.

taskbar button
Double-headed arrow
choosing a taskbar button from the pop-up window

Switching using the keyboard method

When you have more than one window open, you can also switch between them using the keyboard.

To switch between windows using the keyboard method:

  1. Open more than one program or window.
  2. Press and hold down the Alt key while pressing the Tab key.
  3. A menu featuring file and program icons appears.
  4. Tab to the window you want to view. Once it's outlined with a box, release both keys.


  • Practice minimizing, maximizing, and restoring windows.
  • Move a window using the title bar.
  • Click and drag to resize a window.
  • Practice tiling and cascading windows.
  • Switch between windows using both methods described in this lesson.