Mouse And Keyboard Window Tiling in Xfce4

23 Jun 2013

I like tiling window managers like i3, dwm, or xmonad. Aside from making me feel like Boris Grishenko, being able to manipulate a desktop without a mouse is especially handy when there's simply no mouse available. After all, trackpads aren't exactly the hallmark of human-computer-interaction.

However, most software isn't written with tiling windows in mind, so a pure tile-based approach can cause problems or at least awkward side-effects (dialog boxes taking up half a screen, for example). So I sought a hybrid approach, and so far, Xfce4 seems to be doing the job pretty well.

Keyboard shortcuts for window tiling in Xfce4 can be bound at:

Applications Menu -> Settings -> Window Manager

Screenshot of Window Manager

Being able to tile with the keyboard is nice, but I often am using a mouse, and one of the things I like about Windows 7 (gasp!) is the ability to tile a window by dragging it to the edge of the screen. After all, it's just as annoying to have reach for the keyboard when your hand is already on the mouse. By default, Xfce4 moves a window to the next workspace when it is dragged to the edge (at least in the arch linux package I used). Fortunately, this can be changed via the Settings Editor, which can be found at:

Applications Menu -> Settings -> Settings Editor

Screenshot of Settings Editor

Just uncheck "wrap_windows" under xfwm4, and windows should tile when they are dragged to the edge.

Note: If for some reason you need the command line to pull up these windows, you can access the main settings manager window with xfce4-settings-manager.