How to use split screen on Mac

How to use split screen on Mac

Screen real estate is one of the main reasons people prefer to work at the desk. You can run multiple apps on Windows and Mac and switch between them quite easily than a traditional tablet or mobile. On top of that, Windows and Mac have a built-in split screen mode. If you don’t have an external monitor to multitask, you can still use Mac’s split view to reach two apps at once.

Split screen on Mac

When you want to see a few browser tabs on one screen without everything getting mixed up, switch to a split screen. Shared screens allow you to have two sections, each with its own set of information. These sections make you productive, allow you to work quickly and see more information at the same time without having a second screen.

There are several scenarios you will find yourself using split view on Mac. You can watch the latest Apple event and take notes in a separate app on a split screen. Read a PDF of last quarter results as you compose a complimented email to the sales team. The scenarios are endless here.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how to use a split screen on Mac and a troubleshooting tip if it doesn’t work on your Mac.

How to enable split screen mode on Mac

Whenever you open an app or browser on Mac, you will notice three options in the top left corner – Minimize, Close, and Full Screen.

Normally, Mac users use full screen mode to access full screen on the device. Place the cursor over the full screen icon and you will notice three options,

  1. Switch to full screen mode
  2. Mosaic window on the left of the screen
  3. Window mosaic on the right of the screen
Three options at the top

Three options at the top

Select the left or right tile to pin the app to the left or right side of the screen. The operating system will hide the Mac Dock and place the app on the left or right. Mac will showcase minimized apps on the other side. Select the app from the list and open the app on the second half of the screen.

Select the app to split

Select the app to split

How to close the split screen

It is quite easy to close the split screen on Mac. To exit split view mode on a MacBook, press Esc to return windows to normal view.

Exit split screen

Exit split screen

However, this method will not work if the Esc button has a different function in one of the applications. You can click on the green circle in the upper corner of the window to exit any of the applications. To quit the other application, open it (it will be in full screen mode) and also click on the green circle.

How to switch sides in split screen

Last week I watched the Microsoft Surface Duo event on YouTube and took notes from the device using split view on Mac. I kept OneNote open on the left side and YouTube on the right side. I wanted to switch sides for better adjustments.

Change sides of the split screen

Change sides of the split screen

Instead of closing the split view and using it again, you can drag one of the windows to the other side from either window’s menu.

How to set up split screen view on a Mac

Sometimes you may need more screen area for one app compared to others in split view. You can easily allocate the space occupied by an application.

Resize split window

Resize split window

Hold the black screen divider and move it as far as you want to the left or right. Keep in mind that some apps need a certain amount of screen space and won’t allow you to move the divider farther than they need.

Split screen does not work

By default, the split screen feature on your Mac should work fine. If you cannot activate the option, you can follow these steps.

Step 1: Tap the Apple icon in the top left corner.

2nd step: Open the System Preferences menu.

Split screen does not work

Split screen does not work

Step 3: Go to the Dock and activate the option “Screens have separate spaces”.

Try split view again and see if it works or not. When it comes to compatibility, split view mode is supported by all operating systems from OS X El Capitan.

Limiting shared screen on Mac

While split view mode on Mac works fine in general, there is one limitation that we’d like Apple to address in future updates.

  • Apple offers a neat keyboard shortcut to switch to full screen mode. You can use Command + Control + F for this. However, there is no native keyboard shortcut to enable split screen on Mac.
  • If two apps on the same screen isn’t enough for ultimate productivity, you’ll find that the shared view lets you down. It is limited to two applications only.

Also on Guiding Tech

Smart multitasking on Mac

By using the split screen on Mac, you can easily do more things. I found myself using split view mode on Mac more frequently than I expected. I am sure you will feel the same. How do you plan to use split screen on Mac? What two apps do you normally keep in split view? Share your routine in the comments section below.


Having trouble keeping things tidy on your Mac? Read the article below to learn about the seven best apps to stay organized.

Last updated Sep 18, 2020

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