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How to use split screen mode on a Mac

It's different than what you might be used to in Windows, but it's still simple. Multi-task like a champ using Split View!
By
May 22, 2021

If you’re used to running apps side-by-side on Windows, switching to a Mac might come as a shock. How do you elegantly juggle tasks when the interface is so very different? Don’t worry — it might be more straightforward than you think. Here’s how to use split screen (aka Split View) on a Mac, regardless of the MacOS version you’re using.

Also read: The best Apple laptops around


How to use split screen on a Mac using MacOS Catalina

how to split screen on mac catalina
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

If you’re using MacOS Catalina or later, Apple makes Split View quick and straightforward. You’ll know exactly where an app will go and how it will behave. We’ll show you how to enter split screen on a Mac using this method once you’ve opened the apps you intend to use.

  1. Either hover your mouse over an app’s green button (in the upper left) or click and hold on it.
  2. Click Tile Window to Left/Right of Screen to have that app fill the relevant side of the screen.
  3. The other side of the screen will show other running apps; click on one of them to make it fill that side of the screen.
  4. You can adjust window widths by dragging the dividing line, switch window positions by dragging them to the other side, and switch to other apps using Mission Control or trackpad gestures.
  5. To exit this mode, move your mouse pointer to the top of the screen and click the green button to leave Split View for that app. The other app will be left in full-screen mode.
  6. Switch to the other app and repeat step 5 to leave full-screen mode.

More: The best Apple MacBook accessories


How to enter split screen mode with older versions

split screen macos
Jon Fingas / Android Authority

If you’re not running Catalina or newer, you’re still covered. So long as you’re using at least OS X El Capitan, you can still invoke Split View using a simple (if slightly more involved) method. This is how to enter split screen mode on those earlier Mac platforms.

  1. Click and hold an app’s green button (in the upper left). The app window will shrink.
  2. While holding the button, drag the app to the left or right side of the screen and release it.
  3. The other side of the screen will show other currently running apps. Click on one to have it fill that side.
  4. You can adjust window widths by dragging the dividing line, switch window positions by dragging them to the other side, and switch to other apps using Mission Control or trackpad gestures.
  5. To exit split screen (Split View), move your mouse pointer to the top of the screen and click the green button. One app will return to normal, while the other will remain in full-screen mode in the background.
  6. Select the full-screen app and repeat step 5 to leave Split view.

Related: iPhone buying guide – Finding the right one


Is the feature not working?

Apple MacBook Air M1 close up of logo
Gary Sims / Android Authority

Things can get tricky at times. If for some reason you can’t never Split View, it might be worth digging into the settings to see if the feature is on.

  1. Click on the Apple Menu.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Go into Mission Control.
  4. Turn on Displays have separate Spaces.

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