Poll results: 50.4% of respondents maximise windows

When I posted my recent poll on Web browser window size I was expecting at the very most a couple of hundred comments. I obviously underestimated my readers’ willingness to participate, because when I finally closed comments the count was 1070, with the total amount of setups reported landing at 1385. 1070 comments. Wow.

Huge thanks to everybody who took the time to post info about your setup. And thanks to Frode Danielsen for helping me out with a script that parses the responses and creates a CSV file, and thanks to everybody who posted tips on how to turn this data into something usable when I asked for help in Statistics help needed.

You may be wondering why I posted this poll. So do I ;-). Seriously though, I was just curious. I realise the results aren’t valid for the Web browsing public as a whole, and not even for the people who visit this site (since only those who participated are counted). But it still shows something, and I was a little surprised by a few things:

  • Only 50.4% maximise their browser windows. I thought that percentage would be higher.
  • 20% of Mac users maximise. I thought that percentage would be lower.
  • 65% of Windows users maximise, which is far lower than I thought.
  • There are many more Linux users here than I thought – 12%. That doesn’t match what my statistics apps tell me though, so it may not be reliable. The same goes for Mac users, who provided 32% of the answers.

Some numbers, then. I have edited the data quite a bit, consolidating operating systems and resolutions to get something that is manageable.

Disclaimer: I am no statistics expert, so my analysis may be wrong. There may also be better ways of presenting the data.

Do you maximise your browser window?
Yes No
698 (50.4%) 687 (49.6%)

An even split.

Maximisers per operating system
OS Number Maximisers
Mac 440 89 (20%)
Windows 777 502 (65%)
Linux 165 106 (64%)
NetBSD 3 1 (33%)

Here’s a chart that may help visualise that table:

Windows and Linux users maximise to a similar extent, while Mac users are much less likely to maximise. I expected that, but I did think fewer Mac users and more Windows users would maximise.

To make it easier to handle the large amounts of screen resolutions, I have looked at width only, and consolidated almost similar widths.

Maximisers per screen width
Screen width Number Maximisers
800 6 3 (50%)
1024 167 122 (73%)
1152 17 12 (71%)
1280 617 374 (61%)
1400 167 63 (38%)
1600 128 60 (47%)
>1600 283 63 (22%)

At higher resolutions, the percentage of maximisers drops. I expected that.

I could show many more tables and charts, but that is all I have time for right now. In case you feel like playing around with the data, you are welcome to download the cleaned and consolidated CSV file.

Posted on April 15, 2007 in Web General

Comments

  1. I expected that, but I did think fewer Mac users and more Windows users would maximise.

    I thought Windows users who maximized would be closer to 80%; it probably approaches 100% for typical users — I don’t know a single Windows user who doesn’t work maximized all the time.

    In fact, Microsoft’s OS should really just be called “Window”. Maximizing rather defeats the purpose of windows, but the interface is designed to work best that way.

  2. Thank you very much for this very interesting poll!

  3. Great to see the results!

    But one should not forget that those statistics are based on web-savvy users who visit 456bereastreet and can differ greatly from other websites.

  4. April 15, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Achtentachtig:

    But one should not forget that those statistics are based on web-savvy users who visit 456bereastreet and can differ greatly from other websites.

    Absolutely. That’s why I wrote this:

    I realise the results aren’t valid for the Web browsing public as a whole, and not even for the people who visit this site

  5. April 15, 2007 by Rick

    Using 800x600 and not browsing maximised? Must be a joke or not web-savvy at all.

  6. Kudos for the time and effort spent constructing the results. It is much appreciated as seeing trends is always interesting and welcomed.

    @Rick: I totally agree. That would make terrible viewing.

  7. The statistics are obviously based on users’ comments which may or may not be entirely truthful. The margin of error for users’ comments is probably higher than browser stats.

    If users’ comments are the only way to get answers whether or not they maximise windows, I suppose it is valid.

  8. In fact, Microsoft’s OS should really just be called “Window”. Maximizing rather defeats the purpose of windows, but the interface is designed to work best that way.

    I disagree. Even if you always maximize your windows, you may still have several windows open at a time. You can only use one at a time anyways, and when its done in snap to alt-tab between the windows, i just see no reason not to maximize them as it expands your work space. And that goes especially for an Internet browser.

    But i do agree, some of the numbers were different from what i think i would anticipate.

  9. Many people probably have seen this (and a commenter #201 in the poll also posted a link), but Thomas Baekdal’s Actual Browser Sizes shows the same trends. His results leans slightly more towards maximizing, with a percentage of ~75 for Windows, ~27 for Mac OS and ~70 for Linux.

  10. April 15, 2007 by Eric Irvine

    Well i’m reviewing for my stats exam right now so I thought I would calculate a 95% confidence interval on the data:

    There’s a 95% chance that the true population value of browser maximizers for people that visit your site is between 47.8% and 53.1%

    I also did a Hypothesis test and did indeed find that the ratio of maximizers to non is not statistically significant from chance - it is an even split (you can now say that statistically) :)

  11. Wonder why most of the wider screen users maximise?

    I like to have my readable text around the same width as this site. It’s just nice to scan.

    Some sites, that have liquid layouts, or those that eat all available space, I like to shrink the browser window so that the text becomes a comfortable reading width.

    That said, I do widen the browser window as I open more tabs, but on average, my browser takes 80% of my 1050 wide display.

  12. Thanks for all the info and work. I would love to see this data for the global user. Personally I maximize on my 12” ibook and not on my 23” power mac. Though I do run IE maximized in parallels

  13. One reason might be the fact that more and more users are getting larger screens, and thus higher resolutions. I’m a Windows user, and I’m using a 24” monitor with a resolution of 1920x1200, and I only maximize Photoshop and other graphical programs because they need a large workspace to work efficiently. Firefox is never largen than 1280x900 on my screen. I just don’t feel comfortable with a larger browser.

    I was surprised that there were so few Windows users maximizing their browsers at 1280x* resolutions though… My old monitor ran 1280x1024, and I just couldn’t work properly if my broswer window wasn’t maximized. That’s probably the reason why I still size my browser-windows 1280 in width. The height isn’t that important, I don’t mind scrolling a bit, as long as it’s vertical ;)

  14. Thnx for doing all this work, it was very interesting

  15. 1070 comments! Holy smokes.

  16. I’m interested in the 1 in 5 non-maximising Mac users… so many macheads declare with 100% certaintly that “nobody maximises” and “you don’t need a maximise button, you’re wrong to want that” (paraphrasing of course).

    So here’s the the 20% of people that Apple chooses to ignore. Hey it’s only one fifth of the market, no big deal ;)

  17. The reason why the number of mac users were higher than expected is probably due to the audience that posted their stats. Seeing the number of people who design use macs more than the normal user.

  18. I disagree. Even if you always maximize your windows, you may still have several windows open at a time.

    Yes, but now you’ve replaced the paradigm of windows with one of modes: one application visible and available at a time. I wonder, if Windows lost the windows and made each application full-screen, how many users would be affected.

  19. That’s quite some user data! Thank you for taking the time to sort through all of it.

    The maximisation did caught me by surprise though, I’d think fewer mac-users and more windows users would maximise. (Even with looking at the web dev demographic)

  20. April 16, 2007 by Greg Laycock

    I think an additional piece of information might help explain why some folks - including myself - do not maximize browser windows: Does the user have multiple monitors? I like to be able to drag windows back and forth between my screens, which is something that cannot be done while a window is maximized (at least on a Windows PC).

  21. I’m quite surprised that it comes out to a 50-50 split, I’d have expected one or other approach to be dominant - though I’m not sure which one.

    As you imply yourself, we can’t generalise too much from a survey of people who chose to comment one one particular website. However, I think we can draw one conclusion:

    A substantial number of internet users have different maximising habits than your own

    If you maximise, remember that a lot of people don’t. If you don’t, remember that a lot will. If you’re taking elaborate care to code for people using text browsers or screen readers or with javascript switched off, but ignoring the needs of those who surf (un)maximised, you might want to change your regime slightly.

  22. Very interesting stats. Thanks!

    For your next piece of research, could you contact those 3 respondants who are using 800px resolution? I would be fascinated to know why people still put up such a measly res. It’s particularly surprising for 800px to feature in your study because your readers are likely to be more web-savvy than most.

  23. Excellent Poll! Thanks so much.

    Just very surprised by the lower then expected full max window size for PC users.

    I have been around many PC users, as I am a MAC person, and everyone of them have window at full size.

    But very usable results.

    Cheers

  24. Interesting results, yes:)

    I am using 1280x1024 at work and 1024x768 at home, and in both places I run Firefox on WinXP, and always maximise. It’s a habit, I avow this:)

    Maybe because I am Windows user, dunno, but I also avow that I am using 95% of the time Alt+Tab (and that I do not have 2+ monitors)…

    Fow now, I start planning careful redesign of my website, with liquid layout in mind, whih will be comfortable viewing for people with screen width from 1024x768 (800x600) till 1600x1200:)

    Cheers, and more of these polls in the future, please:)

    (Idea for the next one: 1) Do you use primarily Macromedia/Adobe Fireworks for your webdesign graphics tasks, or, 2) Adobe Illustrator, or, 3) Adobe Photoshop.

    What do you say?;)

  25. RE: In fact, Microsoft’s OS should really just be called “Window”.

    I also disagree…most of the time by not maximizing all you get is clutter surrounding the active window. Sure, you can see your pretty wallpaper, but you just aren’t taking advantage of your available real estate. The only reason for not maximizing is when you need to view multiple windows at the same time, at which point if I have to view something at the same time as the browser (or multiple browser windows), it would no longer be maximized.

    I think one of the reasons most OS X people don’t maximize (I know I don’t when I’m using my MBP) is because it isn’t as easy to switch windows as it is in Windows. Ignoring the alt-tab since OS X has an equivalent…Instead of just clicking an application on the taskbar you have to bring up the dock, possibly even right-click the icon and then an additional click to select the appropriate window. Too much hassle, too much lost productivity.

  26. Interesting, thought there’d be more maximizing on the smaller resolutions. Thanks!

  27. April 17, 2007 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Rick:

    Using 800x600 and not browsing maximised? Must be a joke or not web-savvy at all.

    Or just using their screen in a different way than you do.

    Eric:

    There’s a 95% chance that the true population value of browser maximizers for people that visit your site is between 47.8% and 53.1%

    Even taking into account that only people who took the time to comment are counted?

    Greg:

    I like to be able to drag windows back and forth between my screens, which is something that cannot be done while a window is maximized (at least on a Windows PC).

    Not a problem in Mac OS X.

    Chris:

    If you maximise, remember that a lot of people don’t. If you don’t, remember that a lot will.

    Excellent summary, and basically the point I wanted to make with this :-).

    Michel: There may be more polls, so thanks for that idea :-).

    Andy: I don’t see how switching windows is problematic in Mac OS X. Assuming everything is maximised, Cmd-Tab switches to the app you want, and then you either click on the window you want, choose it from the Window menu, or use a keyboard shortcut to cycle between the app’s windows. The dock? I only ever use it for launching apps.

    I personally find having everything maximised is very limiting, but whenever I am forced to use Windows I tend to click that button anyway since, just like Paul D says in the first comment, Windows is built to work best that way.

  28. April 17, 2007 by Sebhelyesfarku

    If small windows everywhere on the desktop is so good in OS X, why Exposé?

  29. April 17, 2007 by Spissy Spispopd

    There are many more Linux users here than I thought – 12%. That doesn’t match what my statistics apps tell me though, so it may not be reliable.

    Note that many, many linux users still use “user agent spoofing” to pretend to be another OS/Browser combo, typically IE/Windows or Firefox/Windows.

    This unfortunately masks real linux usage (if you’re still doing it, at least do Firefox/Windows not IE/Windows!), but means that web sites that still do the obnoxious browser-detection thing don’t refuse to serve up pages to Linux users!

  30. Surely maximising behaviour is more closely correlated to screen height than width? Virtually all web-pages need to scroll vertically, but the need for horizontal scrolling is pretty rare indeed (due to flow-based layouts etc).

    I usually end up with a maximised browser window on my 13” Macbook, because the widescreen (a.k.a. “shortscreen”) aspect ratio doesn’t provide much screen real-estate for browsing otherwise. In fact, most document based apps, editors etc., require vertical scrolling, so benefit more from vertical pixels than horizontal.

    Also, let’s not forget that maximize/zoom is essentially broken in OSX Firefox, which might be why people don’t use it — would be interesting to see your stats broken down by browser.

    Interesting findings, anyway.

  31. The skew might have also been down to LCD versus CRT, I studied Biological Statistics at university but it looks like Eric Irvine tried a typical Null hypothesis and “95% confidence interval” already.

  32. For those interested, you may also want to look at this survey. There, a JavaScript file automatically gathered data during 3 months on 5 websites, 4 of which were not related to design/programming (2 teenage fashion, 1 male fashion and 1 female fasion site).

    In that survey, it appears far more users maximize their screen (about 70%, compared to the 50% here). As on this site, it’s also clear people with larger window sizes maximize less, and that Mac users maximize less (~27% compared to 20% here) than Windows and Linux users (~75% compared to 65% here).

  33. …the interesting part is, if most of us with higher resolutions were forced to use a 1024 or 1152 wide screen, we would probably maximize, since that is likely the width we stretch our browser window to within our large screen.

    This would support your original idea that more people would maximize their browsers…if we had lower resolutions.

  34. April 17, 2007 by toolman

    For you firefox users out there that hate sites that attempt to maximise for you, you can tell javascript to not follow thu on requests to maximise the window etc:

    http://www.mozilla.org/support/firefox/tips.html#behwindowopen_feature

  35. April 18, 2007 by Thomas Krantz

    I was very surprised to see that of the people here, 22% of the group with a larger resolution than 1600 maximize their browser windows.

    I’ve found that by browsing in 1920x1200 many sites break, and many just leave a lot of white space around. Very few take any advantage of that space.

    I guess some do it together with increased text sizes (breaking even more sites) to read better, but are there any other advantages I’m not aware of?

  36. Impressive results, i am quite surprised with a percentage of people with 1600x1200 resolution, who maximize their browser windows.

    Interesting also the fact that Mac users, have much lower percentage of browser maximizers, then any other operating system - a suggestion for another interesting statistics would be OS/Resolutions comparison.

    I would expect Mac users in general to be using higher resolutions then Windows users, for example.

  37. April 20, 2007 by Dave

    Thank you infinitely for sharing the data and in .csv.

    Is there any data on users browsing with their favorites sidebar open? Once someone pointed this behavior out to me, I started seeing it -everywhere- on PCs at work.

  38. In fact, Microsoft’s OS should really just be called “Window”. Maximizing rather defeats the purpose of windows, but the interface is designed to work best that way.

    I feel it’s useless to fight for which OS is better. Mac has coolest GUI features though, after working so many years on Windows I wonder how can anyone work without a “Right-click” (context menu)… Now should we fight over this too…

  39. Wow, I expected the number of users who maximise to be much lower, particularly for Windows.

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