Chapter 2


2.1 Anatomy of a Window

Generally an application will have the following layout:

[Anatomy of a Window]


The titlebar presents the name of the application, document or window. It's color indicates the keyboard focus state and type of the window. You can use it to move, activate, raise, lower and access the window commands menu.
Miniaturize button. You can click on the miniaturize button to miniaturize/iconify a window or click it with the Meta key pressed to hide the application.

Close Button.

The close button can be used to close a window or kill the application, if the application can't understand the close message.


You use the resizebar to (surprise!) resize a window.

Client Area.

The client area is where the application show it's information. If the window if inactive, you can click on it to activate it.

2.2 Working With Windows

2.2.1 Focusing a Window

Windows can be in two states: focused , or unfocused. The focused window (also called the key or active window) has a black titlebar and is the window that receives keyboard input, ie: where you can type text. Usually it's the window where you work on. Only one window may be focused at a time. Unfocused windows have a light gray titlebar. Some applications have a special type of window, called dialog windows transient windows or panels. When these windows are active, the window that owns them (the main window) get a dark gray titlebar. As soon as the dialog window is closed, the focus is returned to the owner window.

The image below shows an active Open File panel and it's owner window.

[Focused, Unfocused, and Parent Window]

There are three styles of window focusing:

Click-to-Focus,or manual focus mode. In click-to-focus mode, you explicitly choose the window that should be focused. This is the default mode.

Focus-Follow-Mouse,or auto-focus mode. In this mode, the focused window is chosen based on the position of the mouse pointer. The window below the mouse pointer is always the focused window.

Sloppy-Focus,or semi-auto-focus mode. This is similar to the focus-follow-mouse mode, but if you move the pointer from a window to the root window, the window will not loose focus.

You can choose between these modes with the FocusMode option

To focus a window in click-to-focus mode:
When you click in the client area of an inactive window to set the focus, the click is normally processed by the application. If you find this behaviour a little confusing, you can make the application ignore this click by using the IgnoreFocusClick option.

To focus a window in focus-follow-mouse mode:

2.2.2 Reordering Overlapping Windows

Windows can overlap other windows, making some windows be over or in front of others.

To bring a window to the front:

Dialog/transient windows are always placed over their owner windows, unless the OnTopTransients option is disabled. Some windows have a special attribute that allow them be permanently over normal windows. You can make specific windows have this attribute use the AlwaysOnTop window option or set it in the Window Inspector panel.

Extra Bindings

Action Effect

Meta-Click on the window titlebar. with the left mouse button Sends the window to the back.

Meta-Click on the Client Area of the window with the left mouse button. Brings the window to the front and focuses it.

Hold the Meta key and press the Up Arrow key Brings the current focused window to the front.

Hold the Meta key and press the Down Arrow key Sends the current focused window to the back.

2.2.3 Moving a Window

To move the window around the screen, drag the window through it's titlebar with the left mouse button pressed. This will also bring the window to the front and focus the window.

To move a window: While you move the window, a little box will appear in the screen, indicating the current window position in pixels, relative to the top left corner of the screen. You can change the location of this position box by hitting the Shift key during the move operation.

In some rare occasions, it is possible for a window to be placed off screen. This can happen with some buggy applications. To bring a window back to the visible screen area, select the window in the Window List menu. You can prevent windows from doing that with the DontMoveOff window attribute.

Extra Bindings

Action Effect

Drag the titlebar with the middle mouse button Move the window without changing it's stacking order.

Drag the titlebar while holding the Control key Move the window without focusing it.

Drag the client area or resizebar while holding the Meta key Move the window.

2.2.4 Resizing a Window

The size of a window can be adjusted by dragging the resizebar.

[A Resizebar]

Depending on the place you click to drag the resizebar, the resize operation is constrained to a direction.

To resize a window

Extra Bindings

Action Effect

Drag the window in the client area with the Right mouse button, while holding the Meta key Resizes the window.

Drag the resizebar with the middle mouse button Resize the window without bringing it to the front

Drag the resizebar while holding the Control key Resize the window without focusing it.

2.2.5 Miniaturizing a Window

If you want to temporarily get rid of a window, you can miniaturize it. When miniaturizing a window, it will shrink into a miniwindow with a icon and a title that is placed at the bottom of the screen.

[A Titlebar]

[A Mini-window] A mini-window

You can move the miniwindow around the screen by dragging it. Unlike application icons, miniwindows cannot be docked.

To restore a window from it's miniwindow, double click the miniwindow. The window will be restored in the current workspace, with the same position, size and contents as it had before miniaturization.

To miniaturize a window:

You can also restore all miniaturized and hidden windows of a given application by double clicking in it's application icon with the middle mouse button.

2.2.6 Shading a Window

If you want to temporarily get rid of a window, an option for it's miniaturization is to shade it. When you shade a window, the window rolls up to it's titlebar. You can do almost everything you do with a normal window with shaded windows, like miniaturizing or closing it.

To shade a window:
[A Shaded window]

2.2.7 Closing a Window

After finishing work in a window, you can close it to completely get rid of it. When you close a window, it is removed from the screen and can no longer be restored. So, before closing a window, be sure you have saved any work you were doing on it.

A Titlebar with a close button

Some windows will have a close button with some dots around it. These windows can't be closed normally and the only way to get rid of them is by exiting the application. You should try exiting from inside the application (through it's menus or buttons) when possible. Otherwise you can force WindowMaker to ``kill'' the application.

To force the closure of a window (by killing the application):

It is also possible to kill applications that can be normally closed by clicking the close button while holding the Control key.

2.2.8 Maximizing a Window

If you want to resize a window to occupy the whole screen, you can maximize the window. When you unmaximize it, the window will be restored to the same position and size it was before maximized.

To maximize a window:

To restore the size of a maximized window:

You can select whether the window should be maximized to the whole screen or if the position of the Dock should be accounted for by setting the WinDock option.

2.2.9 The Window Commands Menu

Clicking on the titlebar of a window with the right mouse button will open a menu containing commands that will apply to that window. The menu can also be opened through the keyboard with the Control+Escape key, by default.

(Un)Maximize Will either maximize the window horizontally and vertically, or, if the window is a;ready maximized, restore the window to the size it was prior to being maximized.
Miniaturize Will miniaturize the window.
(Un)Shade Will shade the window, or unshade it if it is already shaded.
Hide Will hide all the windows of the application
Hide Others Will hide all current applications except the current one
Move To Allows you to move the window to a different workspace
Attributes... Opens the Window Attributes Inspector (see section 2.3 )
Close Will close the window
Kill Will kill the application. Use this option only if the application does not provide means to close it normally, or in extreme cases.

2.3 The Window Attributes Inspector

2.3.1 Window Specification

This panel Allows you to specify the WM_CLASS that WindowMaker should use to identify the window whose attributes you are setting.

[Window Attributes Inspector: Window Specification]

2.3.2 Window Attributes

This panel lets you set the attributes for the selected window.

[Window Attributes Inspector: Window Attributes]

Disable titlebar Causes the titlebar for the selected window not to be displayed
Disable resizebar Causes the resizebar for the selected window not to be displayed
Disable close button Causes the close button for the selected window not to be displayed
Disable miniaturize button Causes the miniaturize button for the selected window not to be displayed
Keep on Top Causes the selected window to stay on top of all other windows
Omnipresent Causes the selected window to be displayed in all workspaces
Start miniaturized Causes the selected window to start miniaturized
Skip window list Causes the select window to be skipped when cycling through the window list.

2.3.3 Advanced Options

[Window Attributes Inspector: Advanced Options]

Ignore HideOthers Causes the selected window to remain visible when HideOthers is selected from the Window Commands Menu
Don't bind keyboard shortcuts Causes the selected window to receive ALL keyboard events
Don't bind mouse clicks Causes the selected window to receive all mouse-click events
Keep Inside Screen Causes the selected window not to be able to place itself off the screen
Don't let it take focus Causes the selected window not to be able to take input focus
Don't Save Session Causes the state of the selected window not to be saved when a session is saved. (either when quitting WindowMaker, or when done manually.)
Emulate Application Icon Emulates an Application Icon for "broken" applications

2.3.4 Icon and Initial Workspace

This panel allows you to browse for, and update the mini-window image for the selected window, as well as setting the initial workspace.

[Window Attributes Inspector: Icon and Initia Workspace]

2.3.5 Application Specific

Attributes specific to the selected application

[Window Attributes Inspector: Icon and Initia Workspace]

Start hidden Starts the selected application in a hidden state
No application icon Disables the application icon for the selected application

Window Maker: User Guide - Windows