Want to watch the video version? It’s at https://youtu.be/098rtVebmR4
If you get frustrated continually resizing and shifting windows around as you work in macOS, I may have just the application for you. Hookshot is an application you can learn is in 10 minutes, costs less than 10 dollars, and its going to boost your productivity massively!
No, this isn’t an ad placement. It’s just a great little app I want to share with you.
In macOS we are used to the conventions of a set of floating windows for applications that stack in the Z axis and we reshuffle them based on the application we are working with at any time.
By default I find this is a hugely frustrating affair. You click and drag to size windows, click and drag to move them around, plus a lot of times you don’t even care that much about the size and position of the windows, you just want some general areas to stick stuff.
MacOS has some features to help here, especially if you just do a bunch of 50/50 work. You can do the dance of tiling two of your apps by clicking and holding the green dot at the top left and splitting stuff that way but every time you need to bust out of that it’s pretty laborious to click and hold again and take the application that’s left back out of tiled mode. Plus what about if you don’t want a straight 50/50 split? You’re out of luck I’m afraid.
Then there is spaces which, for me at least, always felt like a lot of work and didn’t suit my mental model. It just never sat well for me. Anything that needs me to reach for the mouse to get things done is always going to come second place to something I can drive with keyboard alone.
Linux has this covered
One area where Linux has many more options than macOS is in Window managers.
Linux has plenty of these alternative window tiling managers like i3 which makes apps get launched and positioned into a 2D tiled grid area that you can manipulate to your needs. Now this approach is great for some situations but again, not all.
There’s Amethyst for Mac, which is in a similar vein but not everything plays happily with that.
The best compromise is Hookshot
What I have found, which kind of sits between these two things, is an app called Hookshot. There are a few similar window snapping apps I’ve used in the past like Divvy and I know Magnet is popular too. However, Hookshot has a few extra features I think set it apart. Let me show you what it can do.
Keyboard or mouse
Hookshot has both keyboard and mouse users covered. If you want to use the mouse you just hold down the CMD+CTRL keys and a little disc appears and slightly darkens the window you’re conceptually hooking, then move your mouse to where you want it to go, let go and it gets ‘wanged’ there in an instant.
Wanged is a technical term by the way, ask any other Northerner in England :). Maybe if you can bear my mug the video version of this offers a better illustration of what I mean here. Hopefully you get the idea?
But that’s less interesting to me than the fact I can use a bunch of keyboard shortcuts to do the same things. I have CTRL+Option plus an arrow key to stick a window left/right/top/left. In fact it doesn’t matter what I have set. The point is you can have anything set to anything. Third? Two thirds? Any quarter? Either half? Full size? Center with space around? What about something entirely custom?
Record your screen? You need Hookshot
If you’ve suffered this blog for a while you will know I’ve ventured into Video Courses and YouTube. At present I have this monitor set for 3008×1692 resolution. Typically when I record content, I want to capture 1920×1080; standard 16:9. Rather than re-size my desktop in System Preferences like some kind of animal, Hookshot lets you define your own window sizes and positions. Where I want a 50:50 split in the ‘pretend’ desktop, typically Sublime one side, browser on the other I just hit a couple of shortcuts and those windows are in place ready to record.
That leaves me another portion of the screen free to have my notes. Beautiful!
Just one more thing: Instant grids
One final little trick worth sharing is that Hookshot can give you an instant grid of your ‘top’ four applications in a 2×2 or ‘top’ 6 in a 3×2 — it’s just one shortcut away. Or cascade them all, or… you’re getting the picture, right? It’s flexible.
I’m sure I’m starting to sound as evangelical as Tom Cruise at a Scientology convention so I’ll wax lyrical no more, apart from saying…
This is a great little app. It has a universal binary so great on an M1 too, it’s inexpensive, light on resources, and has been faultless in all the time I’ve been using it.
It has a free 10 day trial and you may just find it being the productivity boost I have!