Review: Magnet app organizes your desktop


I’ve been playing with Magnet (currently $1.99 at the Mac App Store), an OS X utility that enables you to organize your screen by auto-fitting windows. Instead of tweaking open windows until they fit, Magnet does the work for you.

The app includes several drag zones. When you pull a window into one, the screen highlights. When you release, Magnet lays out that window. Zones include full screen, right half, left half, top-right quarter, and so forth. Since I use a dual-monitor set-up, the “left half” drop zone is allllll the way out to the left, and not at the left of my primary. 

I wish I could kill the drag zones. In my testing, I ran into them by accident more often than by purpose. Any stray movement into a zone is more likely to throw a window into prominence than move it out of my primary work area, which was my all-too-often intent.

I preferred using the menu bar over zones. The menu places the frontmost window without dragging. It also includes a ton of keyboard equivalents that overlapped with my Xcode key bindings.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.41.28 AM


Unfortunately, when I tried to edit these away, the app wouldn’t let me.  The shortcuts persisted even though I disabled each one.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 10.56.51 AM

I wish Magnet would consider support for 2/3rd –  1/3rd in addition to halves and quarters. The half presentation on my primary monitor isn’t quite big enough to write either blog posts or book chapters. After applying half layouts, I found myself continuously re-adjusting windows, pulling the left window out over the right and quickly losing the perfect placement.

If Magnet worked perfectly, it would be a fair value at its $1.99 sale price — a quick simple solution to support your work flow. Unfortunately, the current release incorporates too many compromises to earn it a regular place on my desktop. I do look forward, however, to seeing the app evolve. It shows promise.

Update: Peter Witham likes SizeUp by IrradiatedSoft ($12.99). LarsJK recommends Moom ($10). He mentions that Spectacle (OSS, free) is also available but lacking features.

One Comment

  • Are you familiar with Moom? It’s pretty flexible — more than I need, actually — so perhaps you can configure it to your taste. $10 in the Mac App store or from the Many Tricks site, with a downloadable free trial. I have no connection with the authors; just a satisfied customer.