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Snap an App Alongside the Surface Desktop

Windows 8’s Start screen and Desktop app live in very separate worlds on your Surface. The Start screen is “modern,” while the Desktop app is “traditional.” They look and behave nothing alike, and, for the most part, they each work apart from each other.

Sometimes, though, it’s helpful to mix the two, perhaps placing your Calendar app next to your desktop to show your next appointment.

Windows 8 does that with a feat called snapping an app, and the result looks like the figure.

Snapping an app places a Start screen app to the side of your desktop.
Snapping an app places a Start screen app to the side of your desktop.

Follow these steps to snap any Start screen app to the side of your desktop:

  1. Open the Desktop app, and then open any Start screen app.

    To reach the Start screen from the desktop, press the Windows key at the bottom of your Surface’s screen. Find the app you want to view alongside the desktop, and tap the app to bring it to the screen.

  2. Switch back to the desktop.

    Slide your finger inward from the screen’s left edge, dragging the desktop back onto the screen.

  3. Snap the app against your desktop.

    This is the tricky part: Slowly drag your finger inward from the screen’s left edge; your most recently opened app appears, following along with the motion of your finger. When you see a vertical strip appear onscreen, lift your finger; the app snaps itself to the screen’s left edge.

When the app snaps against the desktop’s left edge, a small vertical bar separates it from your desktop. The snapped app stays in place, even if you head back to the Start screen and run a few apps. When you return to the desktop, your snapped app remains stuck to the desktop’s side.

App snapping works well for a few tasks, but it includes more rules than a rebate coupon:

  • You can’t snap an app to the side of the Start screen or any Smart screen apps. Apps can only snap to the side of your desktop.

  • You can’t snap an app onto each side of your desktop. You can only snap one app on one side.

  • To unsnap the app, use your finger to drag that vertical bar back toward the screen’s closest edge.

  • Snapped apps are a fixed size; you can’t make them slightly wider or narrower.

  • Not all apps perform well when snapped. Some become so tiny they’re nearly invisible.

  • To unsnap a snapped app, drag the vertical line back to the screen’s closest edge. When that vertical line reaches the edge, the snapped app unsnaps.

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