KB: Unclutter workspace panels and bring dialog window in view

Altium Designer Altium Designer
Starting in version: 18 Up to Current
[Why] Want to position cluttered floating panels in a predictable way, say, when connecting/disconnecting an external monitor or even just switching context from schematic editor to pcb editor; Also bring dialog window somewhere offscreen in view [What] Panels can be grouped by tabs and the group of tabbed panels can be docked to any four edges of application window. Offscreen dialog window can be brought in view with a standard Windows keyboard shortcut technique. [How] A panel can be moved by clicking and holding on its title bar at the top and dragging on top of another panel to be grouped by tab. Likewise, the group of tabbed panels can be dragged toward any four edges of application window to be docked. Floating panels and dialog windows can be sticked to the mouse cursour with Windows shortcut keys.

Solution Details

Panels can be grouped by tabs with only one panel visible at any time, or they can be grouped in fractal mode with multiple panels in the group stacked in the pane so they are visible at the same time.
  1. Make sure your panels are in docked mode rather than popup (fly-out) mode by clicking the push-pin icon in the upper right corner (just to the left of the close cross) until it is pointing down.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button on the title of the panel that you would like to affect. It is important to click on the text of the panel's title not a free space of panel's title bar. Otherwise a whole group of the panels will be moved.
  1. Drag the panel away from the others until it is free floating, then release the left mouse button.
  2. Click and hold the left mouse button on the title of the panel again, this time drag it back to the middle of the group where you want it, until the entire area of the panel is highlighted in blue,
    1. *** For a fractal stacking, drag the cursor while holding the title until you land on one of the four arrows (top, bottom, left, or right.)  The blue highlighting will change as you hover over the different arrows.  Fractal Mode may need to be enabled.  See *** below.
    2. For tabbed grouping, do not land on one of the four arrows at the edges.  You may need to repeat this process if you had multiple panels stacked, and again for each editor (Schematic and PCB etc.)
  3. Release the left mouse button.
For tabbed panels you can then drag the tabs to change their order. 

If you are not able to unstack your panels, try Preferences ► System ► View ► Desktop section ► Reset button.


For a misplaced floating panel somewhere offscreen, you may try the following trick to have it stick to your mouse.
- Make the panel offscreen active from the menu View » Panels
- Hit the Alt key once (do not hold it down)
- Hit the Spacebar (do not hold it down)
- Hit the M key (you may actually see a menu displayed where M is for specifying Move)
- Hit the Up Arrow key (this step locks the cursor to the mid-point of the top of the off-screen window being moved).
- Gently move the mouse (do not click any mouse buttons) and the window being moved should follow the cursor.

The trick also work on a dialog window where you may be just hearing a ding sound upon a mouse click.

*** With the release of AD 20.0.9, you can change a preference setting to prevent or allow panel stacking.  Go to Preferences ► System ► General ► Advanced button to find the setting UI.DisableFractalMode, then check the box under the Value column to prevent stacking or uncheck the box to allow stacking. Newer versions have this box checked by default to prevent accidental stacking, which most customers do not want.


For the change to take affect you'll need to unstack the panels once (if they were stacked) and then restart Altium Designer.  If you checked the box the panels will always display in full size from then on.  If you unchecked the box you will now be able to stack your panels as described above.

Here's the documentation that announced this and other Workspace Enhancements:

This documentation on Working with Panels in Altium Designer has much more detail and may be of further interest:
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