How to Use Pop!_OS Tiling (and Why You Should)

A woman using a laptop computer at a sunny coffee table.

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All desktops are created equal, right?


Unless you’ve been around the desktop block a few times, you might not know that some desktop interfaces are much more efficient than others. And it’s not just about usability, it’s about making things work as smoothly as possible and helping to create an efficient and simple environment for users.

Linux has that in spades. You will find a lots of different desktops availablesome of them will be immediately familiar and easy to use, while others offer more features and complexity.

Also: How to choose the right Linux desktop distro

There’s a kind of window manager unlike anything you’ve used before, and that’s the tiling window manager. What did I include? The best tiling window manager isalso explains exactly what a tiling window manager is.

For those who don’t want to take the time to read the original, the tiling window manager is a tool that intelligently sets newly opened windows for you, in a way that organizes all open windows by uses the most space available on the desktop. With this type of window manager, you don’t have to worry about arranging and organizing your desktop so you can work with apps side by side. It’s easy and effective.

It’s also very different from any desktop you’ve ever used. So for the average user, there is a bit of a learning curve involved.

That’s why the Pop!_OS solution is ideal. With System76’s Pop!_OS, you can easily switch between the regular Cosmic desktop or the tiling version. Everything you need to do this is included with the operating system, so it’s a lot easier than you might think.

How to Use Pop!_OS Tiling (and Why You Should)

How easy is it? I will show you.


The only thing you need is a computer (desktop or laptop) running Pop!_OS. I’ll be demonstrating on a System76 Thelio desktop, running Pop!_OS 22.04.

Also: Pop!_OS may have a complicated name but it makes using Linux so easy

In the system tray of the desktop (top right corner), you will see an icon that looks like three rectangles joined together. Click that icon to bring up the Tile Windows pop-up menu.

System Tray Pop!_OS COSMIC Desktop.

The tiling window icon is farthest left.

Photo: Jack Wallen

From the Window Tile pop-up, click the ON/OFF slider at the top until it is in the ON position. As soon as you enable Tile Windows, any open windows on your desktop will automatically be arranged.

Windows Tile toggle bar

Photo: Jack Wallen

You can see all your windows placed in tall columns. With some applications that can be challenging. Fortunately, you can arrange those windows as needed.

To do so, simply click and drag the app title bar. For example, let’s say you have three apps open and the Windows Tile feature arranges them side by side, which can crowd the window horizontally. You can drag the center window to the bottom left corner so that the left half of the screen is occupied by a single app and the right half is occupied by two apps, dividing the space horizontally.

You can navigate between tiled windows by using the Super key combination and the arrow keys to move right, left, up, or down. You can also select a window with the mouse, but using the keyboard is always more efficient.

Three applications are opened when Pop!_OS Tile Windows is on.

Applications can be easily organized by dragging them to different locations.

Photo: Jack Wallen

How to add tiling exception

You may have an app that you want to open in regular mode. For example, I want to open my email client without tile. That way I can move the window as needed and resize it accordingly.

To add an exception, make sure the app is open, then click to reopen the Window Tile pop-up. From the pop-up, click Floating Exceptions. In the resulting window, click Select, then select the application you want to add as an exception from your screen.

Also: 3 levels of Linux distribution difficulty

You will be prompted to select that current window or all windows associated with the application. When you’re done, the app will appear as usual on the screen, where you can move, resize, and shrink the app as needed.

GNOME Workspace Overview.

Select the app you want to add a tile exception to.

Photo: Jack Wallen

That’s all you need to use Pop!_OS Tiling Window Manager option in Pop!_OS. Some of you may not feel familiar with this feature, while others will find it to be the most efficient PC interface available. The best thing about the Pop!_OS solution is that you can use it when you need it and turn it off when you don’t. That way, you get the best of both worlds with the flip of a switch.


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