[Review] Mosaico

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

Mosaico

Version reviewed:

v1.3.0

Software description as per the developer:

Mosaico is a virtual desktop manager that can help you save time and optimize your work at PC.

Mosaico saves the position of the windows on your desktop so that you can restore them anytime later.

Mosaico can also arrange windows so that they fill the whole screen surface, giving you more information at a time.

Download size:

6.6 MB

Supported OS:

Windows XP/Vista/Win7

Price:

$29.95 (USD)

{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Straightforward and easy to use.
  • Users can manually tile windows, or have Mosaico automatically tile them.
  • Windows can be tiled next to each other, or “on top” of each other.
  • Mosaico can save up to 8 “snapshots” of open windows and automatically restore them to their position/size even if the windows/programs have been closed.
  • Has multi-monitor support.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Lacks the ability to work out of the system tray – the floating widget is the only way Mosaico operates.
  • Temporarily freezes after restoring snapshots of windows that are closed.
  • Needs alternative ways to allow users to manually position windows.
  • Needs to allow users to select how they want windows to be tiled when using the automatic tiling feature.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”7″}Mosaico is easy to use. There are, however, three caveats: 1) Mosaico cannot work out of the system tray, which means its floating widget must be running at all times while Mosaico is running 2) Users are only allowed to drag + drop windows to tile them (when manually tiling) – there are no alternative methods 3) Users are not allowed to select how windows are tiled/positioned when using the automatic tiling feature.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”8″}Mosaico performs well, and only uses about 10 MB of RAM. There are two problems, though: 1) After restoring a snapshot of windows/programs that are closed, Mosaico temporarily freezes 2) There is a weird bug that doesn’t allow users to place windows in all possible positions sometimes.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”8″}I can see a lot of people finding this program useful.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”6″}In my opinion, $29.95 is asking $9.95 too much for this program.
{/for}
{for=”Final Score” value=”7″}
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tup]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Mosaico is a program that allows users to do two main things:

  • Easily tile/arrange windows;
  • Save snapshots of open windows and restore them at any time.

In regards to tiling/arranging windows, Mosaico has two modes, manual and automatic. In manual mode users manually tile/arrange windows by clicking + dragging them into position. In automatic mode Mosaico automatically tiles/arranges all open windows.

In regards to snapshots, Mosaico allows users to save up to eight snapshots. Each snapshot can be restored whenever a user wants; if the windows/programs in the snapshot being restored are not open when a user restores the snapshot, Mosaico will open the closed windows/programs and position their windows like stored in the snapshot.

This is what Mosaico’s “main program window” looks like:

I put “main program window” in quotes because it is really more a floating widget than a window, per se. What I mean is Mosaico acts like a floating widget. It stays above all windows and is slightly transparent when idle:

When you mouse over the widget, the previously shown “window” pops open.

The camera button in the main program window stores snapshots, the box with a green check restores snapshots, the hand puts Mosaico in “manual mode” allowing users to manually arrange windows, and the window-with-lines icon puts Mosaico in “automatic mode” in which Mosaico automatically arranges windows:

Take note that in regards to manually arranging windows, manual mode must be turned on otherwise Mosiaco will not allow you to manually arranging windows. In other words, running Mosiaco is not enough to activate manual mode – you must click on the hand button.

As shown in the above guide – which was created by the developer, by the way, not me – snapshots are represented as fullscreen screenshots that appear in Mosaico’s floating widget:

You can scroll through the snapshots using your mouse wheel or the < and > buttons; the snapshot shown in the center is the one that will be restored when you hit the restore button. You can delete snapshots using the X button.

One thing that annoys me about the fullscreen screenshot-representing-snapshot method is the fact that Mosaico includes itself in the screenshot. This is annoying because 1) There is no need to show Mosaico, obviously it is there since you are using the program 2) Mosaico could potentially be covering up a window that is behind it. I do hope the developer wises up on this issue and makes it so the screenshots don’t include Mosaico.

Now Mosaico is a type of program that needs to be seen in action rather than talked about. So, I created a video demonstrating Mosaico’s features. Watch how I create  a snapshot, restore the snapshot, manually position/tile windows, and automatically position/tile windows:

Notice how the first thing I did was create a snapshot, then later on I restored that snapshot twice: Once when all the windows were still open, but arranged/sized differently than in the snapshot, and once when all the windows were closed. (Ignore the fact that during the second restore there is no Internet connection – I had turned off my WiFi.) Note how during that second restore – when the windows were closed and Mosaico had to open them – initially the windows were not properly sized and how for about 10 seconds the mouse cursor over Mosaico had the blue “work in progress” circle; after those 10-ish seconds, the windows were restored to their snapshot-state and Mosaico went back to its minimized state. This is because of a bug in Mosaico.

What should be happening in the video is the windows should be restored to their snapshot state as soon as they all have been opened, and there should be no 10-ish second delay where Mosaico is unresponsive; but as you can see, that is not what happens. It may just be my computer, but whenever I restore a snapshot that includes closed windows, Mosiaco opens the windows, freezes for about 10 seconds, and then restores the windows to their snapshot state and starts working like normal again. This same problem does not occur if the windows are already open when restoring a snapshot.

Four other things to note that were demonstrated in the video:

  • I was able to tile windows according to my monitor (top, bottom, left, right, etc.) and I was able to tile windows “on top” of each other. See 0:10-0:33 in the video for examples of this.
  • Users are allowed to manually arrange/move around windows even in automatic mode after the windows have been automatically arranged. See 00:36-1:02 for an example for this.
  • Sometimes, for some reason, Mosaico does not allow me to position in areas that it would normally do. For example, in 0:29-0:31 see how I tried to move the folder window to the bottom part of my monitor but Mosaico wouldn’t let me (no green area lightened up). I am not really sure why this happens, but I have noticed it happens after I have used the “tile on top of each other” feature.
  • Similar to the previously mentioned point, when manually arranging windows while in automatic mode, windows are only allowed to be arranged “on top” of each other – the other feature of arranging according to monitor seems to be disabled. See 0:53-0:56 how I tried to arrange the folder window in the bottom left corner but Mosaico didn’t let me, so I ended up putting it “on top” of the Firefox window.
  • Mosaico has the ability to automatically resize windows if an adjacent window is being made larger and moving into their space. See 0:48-0:51 how I made the folder window larger and Mosaico automatically made the Firefox window maller.

That said, aside from the issues that I have already mentioned, there are three areas where I feel Mosaico can be improved:

  • As already mentioned, Mosaico is the floating widget. If you want to use Mosaico, you need to use the floating widget. There is no way to turn off the widget and make Mosaico run from the system tray. I find this to be very, very, very annoying especially because Mosaico pops open every time it is moused over. Even in the video you can see how I moused over Mosaico and it opened up when I did not intend for it to open, impeding whatever I was going to do. I strongly feel the developer needs to give Mosaico the ability to work out of the system tray so user are not forced to use the floating widget all the time.
  • Currently the only way to manually arrange/tile windows is to drag + drop them into the “green zones” that appear. This is fine and dandy – nothing wrong with that. However, some people may find that to be cumbersome, like me. I would prefer if – in addition to the already available drag + drop capabilities – Mosaico allowed users to manually arrange windows using a keypad where users can click a button and the active window gets placed in the position the button is connected to. I am talking about something like what WinSplit Revolution has:

  • Currently Mosaico arranges windows in automatic mode based on their relative size. In other words, if you have two windows open and one is sized larger than the other, if you run Mosaico in automatic mode Mosaico will arrange the windows in such a way that the larger sized window gets more space than the other window. I am sure there is a reason why the developer set it this way, and I am sure there are some people who want it to work this way. However, personally speaking, when I want Mosaico to automatically arrange my windows I don’t want to to size them based on the windows relative sizes – I want the windows to have equal space on the screen (i.e. with the previous example I would want both the larger sized window and the smaller sized window to be equally sized after Mosaico did its thing). I feel the developer needs to add in an option in Mosaico that allows users to select how Mosaico arranges windows in automatic mode; give users the option to select if Mosaico gives the windows even space, or if they are based off their relative sizes, etc.

Last but not the least, I would like to mention Mosaico has multi-monitor support but I don’t have a multi-monitor setup so I am unable to test that functionality.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

WinSplit Revolution

WinSplit Revolution does not have the snapshotting capabilities of Mosaico but it has excellent features in regards to tiling/arranging windows.

I am sure there are more free alternatives out there; in fact I know there are more free alternatives out there. I just don’t know what they are. So if you know any, please share in the comments below.

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}Mosaico is a good program; in fact I dare say it is a very good program. I give it a thumbs up. However, like all programs, it has its fair share of issues. I stop short of recommending Mosaico – leaving it up to you to decide if you should get Mosaico or not – primarily because of two reasons: 1) I feel it is overpriced and 2) Not being able to run out of the system tray is a deal-breaker, in my opinion. That said, I am a long-time fan and user of WinSplit Revoluation; it is a terrific windows tiling/arranging program – I highly recommend it to anyone that wants or needs tiling/arranging capabilities.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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3 comments

  1. Jan Kuhnle

    Thank you for great reviews!

    I think we should NOT have to pay for this kind of added functionality. It should have been included in Windows, but here is an excellent FREE solution (from Germany): DEXPOT it is called – “The Tool Windows Lacks”.

    Please try it out!

  2. Dru

    Thank you for a terrific review… again. I’m a user of WinSplit for about 6 months and am amazed at all the functionality it packs. I use hotkeys, and use it many times every day… I’m kind of particular about window arrangement. It’s a similar thing with Taskbar Shuffle. Once I get things where I want them, and repeatedly get them there, I seem to work faster and more easily. But hey that’s just me.

    I do wish Winsplit’s autoplacement were automatic, not just via hotkey (when I start a program I’d like it to scoot to it’s position automatically). I like the ability to create custom window positions, but positions could be created based on pixels also, not just percentages.

    I went looking into window placement/control programs a few months back because I wanted something to stickify (is that a word?) window borders to facilitate resizing to screen borders and existing window borders. I look forward to what others have to say.

    Cheers!