So you're tired of getting to work each day and having to launch all your apps and websites and arrange everything just so. What if your computer could do it for you. Guess what? It can! Here's how.
Arrange Your Desktop
Assuming you already have an idea of the apps you want to use, launch them and get them all arranged in their right place so you know what you're working with. With a careful combination of apps and system tweaks, you'll get these apps to situate themselves. The desktop layout apps Moom (OS X) and ZMover (Windows), will remember your screen positioning, and the workflow apps, Automator (OS X) and Task Scheduler (Windows), will make sure those apps launch each day beforehand.
Moom (OS X):
1) Once you've downloaded, installed and opened Moom, go mouse up to the Menu Bar and click the custom tab.
2)There should be an element at the top whose drop-down menu reads Arrange Windows. If it doesn't click the drop down menu of any element and select the item that says Arrange Windows.
3) If you use your computers in different locations with different external monitors, you'll want to give your configurations names so you know what's what. Enter the name in the Title field.
4) If you have overlapping windows in your arrangement, uncheck the box that says Ignore obstructed windows.
5) Click the button that says Save Snapshot. You've successfully saved your desktop arrangement.
6) When Moom is running, you can trigger your saved configuration with a hotkey combination. To do this, click the entry field in the upper right hand corner of the Arrange Window element then enter whatever key combination you want to use (press all keys at once).
7) When you finish, click the tab at the top of the window that says General, then select the drop-down menu at the bottom that says Run as __________ application. Choose the option that says menu bar. This will keep the app running in the background and listening for hotkeys. It's accessible via an icon in your menu bar.
1) Once you've downloaded, installed and opened ZMover, click the menu item that says Handler and select the option Add...
2) A new element will appear in the window. Double-click it.
3) You'll need to create a handler action for each application. First drag the purple crosshair icon at the top of the window over a window. It should load the app's name, the window's size and its absolute position on screen. Rename the handler if you wish.
4) Check the boxes for Set position, Set size, Set state. If you use different monitors at different times, uncheck the box which says Use this handler with all display configurations.
5) Click OK.
6) Repeat steps 1-5 for each window you have on your desktop.
7) When finished go to the menu item that says ZMover and click Options (alternately, you can click the icon that looks like a tuning fork).
8) Select the tab that says Hot Keys.
9) Find the Enable/Disable element and click it.
10) Choose a hot key to trigger the desktop auto-arrange. Permissable keys are finnicky and ambiguous, so it's best to go with CTRL and one of the F [insert number here] keys. CTRL+F9 and it seems to work fine. Click ok when finished. Click OK to exit the options menu.
Set Up Your Chrome Tabs
Presumably, you'll want your web browser to open all your tabs up for you each morning as well. Chrome is the browser we recommend.
1) Open Chrome and go into the preferences (Chrome > Preferences).
2) There will be a menu at the top asking what you want to do on startup. Select Open the following pages.
3) Enter in the URLs for every site you want to automatically open when you start Chrome
4) Close the tab. You're finished.
Automatic App Launching
Once you've decided what apps you want to launch and put them in their right place, it's time to make sure they automatically launch each day. Apple has Automator to help with this. Windows has Task Scheduler.
Automator (OS X)
1) Go to your Applications folder and open Automator.
2) The main menu will ask you what type of document you want to create. Choose Application.
3) You will have a menu full of Automator actions on the left and a blank space on the the right. Go into the actions library and click Utilities. In the secondary menu, Find the item that says Launch Application.
4) Drag Launch Application into the blank space on the right.
5) Select the first application you want to launch from the drag-down menu. Make sure Moom is one of the apps in the list.
6) Right click the Launch Application element in the workflow you're building and click duplicate.
7) Repeat steps 5 and 6 for each app you want to automatically launch.
8) When finished, go to the Menu Bar, click File > Save.
9) Save the workflow in the folder of your choice with a name that you'll recognize.
10) Locate the workflow in Finder, and drag the icon onto your dock bar.
Task Scheduler (Windows)
1) If you don't have desktop icons for the apps you want to launch, create shortcuts for each one by navigating to them in the Start Menu, right clicking and selecting Send To > Desktop (create shortcut). This will come in handy later.
2) Open the Start Menu and in the search bar type in task scheduler. The utility should appear at the top of the list. Click it.
3) Click the item on the right side pane that says Create Task...
4) Give the task a name (and description, if necessary). Then click the tab that says Triggers.
5) Click the button that says New...
6) Choose the trigger you want for the workflow. If you want your apps to launch at a certain time each day, choose Daily and designate a time. If you want the apps to launch when you turn your computer on, choose the dropdown menu that says At startup. Click OK.
7) Click the tab that says Actions. Click the button that says New...
8) Task Scheduler will ask what action you want to perform. Choose Start a program.
9) Task Scheduler will prompt you to choose the location of the app you want to launch. Click Browse... and navigate to your desktop. Select the first app you want to launch. Click Open.
10) Repeat steps 7-9 for each app you want to automatically launch. Be sure that ZMover is included among those apps.
1) At the start of each day, click the Automator workflow that you placed on your Dock Launcher. It will open all your apps (including Chrome and all your tabs).
2) Enter the hot key macro you created for Moom. Your windows should all automatically arrange before your eyes.
3) Enjoy your organized virtual workspace.
1) Upon startup or at the scheduled time you set, all apps should launch themselves (if they aren't already).
2) Enter the hot key macro you created for Z Macro. If ZMover doesn't respond to the first attempt, enter it again and it should kick into place.
3) Enjoy your organized virtual workspace.
*Note: For maximum ease in the process, set your apps and websites to remember your password so you don't have to login each time.
Top image via Shutterstock