capsule review

Zooom gives you better window control

At a Glance
  • CodeRage Zooom 2.4

    Macworld Rating

For years, one of my favorite Gems has been MondoMouse, a utility that lets you move, resize, or identify windows without having to first switch to them, and without having to position your cursor over a thin title bar or a tiny resize corner. Unfortunately, a number of readers have had problems using MondoMouse in Snow Leopard, and I’ve recently experience a few such problem myself. (A Snow Leopard-compatible beta version of MondoMouse was released back in September, but it hasn’t been updated since.)

If you’re looking for MondoMouse-like functionality in Snow Leopard, another option is Zooom , which offers similar features, as well as a few extras. Like MondoMouse, Zooom lets you move any window by holding down your choice of modifier keys (I use Command+Option) when the cursor is anywhere over that window; the window gracefully follows your cursor. You can resize the window by holding down a different set of modifier keys (I use Control+Option); the window’s nearest two edges grow or shrink as you move the cursor.

Zooom's preferences window

These features work even if the window in question is behind other windows, which means it’s trivial to resize or move background windows without bringing them forward (although you can change this behavior, so that windows are brought forward, if you prefer).

It’s difficult to grasp how convenient this functionality is without actually trying it. But it's also an ergonomic boon, because it dramatically reduces how often you must make the precise cursor movements necessary to grab a window’s title bar or resize handle.

Like MondoMouse, Zooom also provides cursor focusing, a Unix-windowing feature that automatically brings a window to the front when the cursor passes over it (or hovers over it for a period you specify).

But Zooom adds a few features of its own. A minor one is that Zooom’s informational display, which appears whenever you perform a Zooom action, shows the name of the window’s application as well as the window’s specific size and position on the screen. (MondoMouse’s display shows just the application name, although it also includes one bit of info I wish Zooom would provide: which action—move or resize—you’re about to perform. MondoMouse can also identify any window as you move the mouse over it; this is useful if, for example, you can see just an edge of a window that’s otherwise hidden behind other windows.)

The other Zooom addition is more significant. The developer calls the feature Magnetics, and what it does is lets you “snap” windows against other objects—windows, the sides of the screen, the bottom of the menu bar, the edge of the Dock, or positions on a virtual onscreen grid—making it easier to quickly position windows in convenient locations. With this feature enabled, as you move or resize a window, the edge of the window pauses whenever it hits one of these virtual edges. (You can choose to show these edges during move and resize actions; I recommend doing so, as it makes Magnetics easier to use.)

While you can adjust the sensitivity of the Magnetics feature—how close you must be to an edge before the window you’re moving or resizing snaps to it—I wish you could lengthen the time the window pauses at that position; I often overshot an edge because the window I was moving or resizing didn’t “stick” long enough. Still, the feature is great for neatly positioning windows against each other and against edges of the screen. In fact, I found myself wishing the feature was available when moving and resizing windows normally.

In my testing, Zooom worked well with nearly every program. The biggest exception was Microsoft Word 2008: moving Word windows was a bit jerky, and the resizing feature sometimes resulted in tiny windows that I had to resize manually using the standard resize handle. I also experienced a conflict with iTunes—confirmed by other users—where having Zooom running prevents you from scrolling the first column in iTunes’ Column view. Finally, on a more-general level, I found that some window drawers and palettes were ignored by the Magnetics feature; for example, when moving a BBEdit window, only the main section of the window snaps against other objects, so the document drawer ends up overlapping other windows.

Zooom is an excellent alternative to MondoMouse and a great addition to any Snow Leopard system. Every Mac I use has one of the two installed.

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Updated 3/19/2010, 2:45pm: Corrected price.

At a Glance
  • CodeRage Zooom 2.4

    Macworld Rating
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