Stardock's stellar Groupy organizes windows and programs like browser tabs

This beta software is already superb.

Credit: Brad Chacos/IDG

Compelling free programs are a dime a dozen on PCs these days. But for years, Stardock has offered software worth paying for by following a simple formula: Identify a problem with Windows, then fix it for a reasonable price. Start10 restores the ho-hum modern Start Menu to the glories of its heyday. Fences helps manage disheveled desktops. And Stardock’s newest superb offering, Groupy, turns your myriad open windows into the equivalent of browser tabs.

All too often I find myself drowning in open windows, especially since you can't have multiple File Explorer locations open simultaneously. Groupy cures that headache by allowing you to group entirely separate programs, or multiple instances of the same program, into a single desktop window. You could have a a window dedicated to a gaming session—with the Task Manager, Spotify, and Battle.net populating individual tabs, for example—or a window with tabs devoted to multiple open instances of Excel spreadsheets or Firefox browsers.

Groupy is amazing, and amazingly easy to use.

Once you’ve installed Groupy, simply drag one open window over another to group them together. The two windows become one, with a new file bar at the top that lists each program in its own browser-like tab. Easy-peasy. Here’s a Stardock video showing it in action.

Tabs behave like you’d expect them to. Dragging an app’s tab out from the Groupy file bar pops it back into a standalone window, and hovering your mouse over a tab shows a preview of its contents. When a group gets down to a single tab, the open app reverts to a standard window. You can still Alt + Tab to switch between programs like normal, or use Groupy’s Win + S shortcut to switch between the tabs in a group. Minimizing an app in a group drops the entire collection down into your Windows taskbar.

The Groupy app itself is clean and straightforward. You can tweak the way grouped tabs look, fine-tune how you’d like to tell Groupy to bundle windows together, add exceptions for applications you never want to group, and more.

groupy settings Brad Chacos/IDG

Groupy's settings.

Groupy is still in beta, and while it’s already very useful, it has some rough edges. Those hiccups are most notable with programs that use a custom skin on their file bar, like Spotify or Steam. I couldn’t convince Steam or Origin to merge with any programs whatsoever, dashing my dreams of a single gaming window to rule them all. Merging apps into the custom-skinned Battle.net launcher proved impossible, though I could drag it into other apps to create groups. But once I coaxed Battle.net into a group I couldn’t add new windows to the group until I switched to another tab that wasn’t so finicky.

Once, my system became unresponsive after I rapidly and repeatedly created, then disbanded, several program-stuffed groups to test the limits of temperamental apps like Battle.net. Office and Windows UI elements slowed to a crawl. But restarting my system fixed it, and the issue never reared its head during normal use with multiple groups created. This is beta software.

groupy preview Brad Chacos/IDG

Groupy's tab preview in action.

All that said, I’ve only been using Groupy for less than a full workday, and it’s already streamlined the way I work (and game) while dramatically decluttering my monitors. This app is great. The benefits are similar to running multiple virtual desktops devoted to separate dedicated tasks without, you know, having to juggle multiple virtual desktops, while the Windows keyboard shortcuts burned into your brain still work like a charm. The software’s performance impact is minimal—just a couple megabytes of memory, and the barest of CPU percentages when you’re shifting windows around.

Groupy is only available in Stardock’s $30 Object Desktop suite while the software remains in beta. Object Desktop “is a powerful suite of desktop enhancements that transforms your Windows experience,” Stardock says. It packs 12 different apps, including Groupy as well as the aforementioned (and excellent) Fences and Start10. Groupy will launch in standalone form sometime in December for $10.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?