How to Split Screen on a Mac Featured Image

How to Split Screen on a Mac: 3 Quick Ways

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Last updated: October 21, 2023

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TL;DR

To split screen on a Mac, you can use the Split View feature that lets you have two apps open simultaneously, side-by-side. You can activate Split Screen using the green button on an app window, via Mission Control, or with specific keyboard shortcuts.

Key Points

  • To use Split View, ensure your Mac runs at least OS X El Capitan (10.11) or a newer version.
  • Once in Split Screen mode, you can adjust the screen space each app occupies by dragging the divider between the two apps.
  • You can switch between the two apps in Split View using the trackpad, keyboard shortcuts, or the mouse.
  • To exit Split Screen mode, move the cursor to the top of either app to reveal window buttons and click the green button.
  • While most apps support Split Screen mode, it’s essential to note that not all do.

Ever felt the urge to juggle tasks on your Mac like a digital circus star? Enter the world of Split View! This cool macOS feature lets you have two apps side-by-side, turning your screen into a multitasking playground.

Whether binge-watching while working or comparing documents, Split View is your ticket to a smoother, snazzier workflow. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the steps to split screen on a Mac, so you can make the most of your screen real estate and multitask like a pro. Let’s dive in!

What Are the Split Screen View System Requirements on Mac?

To use the Split Screen View (also known as Split View) on a Mac, your system needs to meet certain requirements:

  1. 🖥️ Operating System: Split View was introduced with OS X El Capitan (10.11) and is available in all subsequent macOS versions. Ensure your Mac runs at least OS X El Capitan or a newer version.
  2. 💻 Hardware Compatibility: While most Macs that can run OS X El Capitan or later support Split View, it’s a good idea to check Apple’s official list of compatible Mac models for any specific macOS version.
  3. 📱 Applications: Not all applications support Split View. The app must be developed to support the full-screen mode used in Split View.
  4. 🔍 Screen Size: While there’s no strict screen size requirement, Split View is most effective on larger screens where you can comfortably view two apps side by side.
  5. 🚀 Memory and Performance: Split View doesn’t have specific RAM requirements, but sufficient memory can ensure smooth multitasking, especially when running resource-intensive apps side by side.

How to Split Screen on a Mac

Apple’s got a cool feature to level up your multitasking on your Mac: Split Screen! It lets you see two apps at once, making work (or play) twice as efficient. Up next, I’ll break down the simple steps to get you started with Split Screen.

1. With the Green Button

You must be familiar with the trio of colored buttons at the top-left corner of any open Mac window: red, yellow, and green.

red yellow green buttons in the top left corner of open mac window

While the red and yellow buttons are used for closing and minimizing windows, the green button offers more than just maximizing your window. Using this green button, you can effortlessly transition into a Split Screen mode on Mac and work on two apps side by side.

Here’s how to use the green button to Split Screen on a Mac:

  1. Open the first app you want to use in Split Screen.
  2. Hover your cursor over the green button (the maximize button) at the top-left corner of the app window.
  3. A dropdown menu will appear. Choose Tile Window to Left of Screen or Tile Window to Right of Screen based on your preference.
choose tile window to left of screen or tile window to right of screen
  1. The app will now occupy half of your screen. On the other half, you’ll see your other open windows.
app one occupying half screen in split view
  1. Simply click another app window to have it fill the other half of your screen.
two apps in split screen view

And voilà! You’re now using two apps side by side in Split Screen mode.

2. Via Mission Control

Mission Control is one of macOS’s standout features, offering a bird’s-eye view of all your open windows, desktop spaces, and full-screen apps. But did you know it’s also a key player in setting up Split Screen mode?

You can use Mission Control to pair two apps together in a seamless side-by-side view. Here’s how to use Mission Control to Split Screen on a Mac:

  1. Open the apps you want to use in Split Screen.
  2. Swipe up with three or four fingers on your trackpad, or press the Control ^ + Up Arrow keys on your keyboard to activate Mission Control.
mac trackpad mission control
  1. You’ll see all your open windows and virtual desktops at the top of the screen.
all apps and windows in mission control
  1. Drag one of the app windows to the virtual desktop area at the top. You can drop it on the left or right side of a new or existing desktop space.
  2. Once the first app is in place, drag the second app window to the opposite side of the same space.

Now, both apps will be in Split Screen mode, occupying half the screen each.

3. Using a Keyboard Shortcut

There are plenty of handy Mac keyboard shortcuts, but what is the keyboard shortcut for Split Screen on Mac? Sadly, there’s no dedicated Split View shortcut on Mac.

You can press Control ^ + Command ⌘ + F, and it’ll take you into full-screen mode. But this isn’t dedicated to Split View.

To avoid the hassle, you can create a custom keyboard shortcut on your Mac. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select Keyboard in the left sidebar and click the Keyboard Shortcuts button.
click keyboard and tap the keyboard shortcuts button
  1. Select App Shortcuts in the left sidebar and tap the small + in the right pane.
select app shortcuts and click the small plus icon
  1. Type the command’s menu name, e.g. Tile Window to Left of Screen.
  2. Enter the keyboard shortcut you want to use. (I used Command ⌘ + W).
  3. Click Done and it will save the shortcut for future use.
enter the menu command name and keyboard shortcut and click done

How to Adjust Split Screen View on Mac

With Mac Split View, you can have two apps on the same screen, but what if you want one app to have a little more real estate than the other? Adjusting the Split Screen view is the key to tailoring this multitasking environment to your specific needs.

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to adjust the Split Screen View on Mac:

  1. If you’re not already in Split Screen mode, you can enter it using the green button method, via Mission Control, or using a keyboard shortcut, as previously discussed.
  2. Once in Split Screen mode, you’ll notice a black vertical divider with a small gray notch in the middle. This separates the two apps.
split screen divider on mac
  1. Click and drag the divider to the left or right to adjust the amount of screen space each app occupies.

You can make one app take up more space than the other based on your preference.

How to Switch Screens in Split View on Mac

Switching between screens in Split View on a Mac is simple and can be done in a couple of ways:

  1. Using the Trackpad: Click on either side of the window to activate that particular screen. The active screen will show highlighted colors.
  1. Using the Keyboard:
    • Press Control ^ + Left Arrow to switch to the app on the left side of the Split View.
    • Press Control ^ + Right Arrow to switch to the app on the right side of the Split View.
  2. Using the Mouse: Simply move your cursor to the app window you want to switch to and click anywhere within that window.

If you want to swap the positions of the two apps, click and hold the top toolbar of one window and drag it to the other side.

Remember, while in Split View, both apps are essentially in full-screen mode, so the usual window management controls (like the red close button or yellow minimize button) won’t be immediately visible. To access these controls, move your cursor to the top of the screen.

How to Exit Split Screen View on Mac

If you want to revert to a single app view or juggle your windows more traditionally, you can exit the Split View in just a few clicks. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Move your cursor to the top of either app in Split Screen mode to reveal the window buttons.
  2. Click either app’s green button (the maximize/exit full-screen button).
  3. This will exit both apps from Split Screen mode, and the app you clicked will return to its regular windowed mode while the other app remains in full-screen mode.

After exiting Split Screen mode, you can maximize or resize the windows as you prefer. If you want both apps out of full-screen mode, you’ll need to exit each one individually.

Why Won’t Your Mac Do Split Screen?

If your Mac isn’t entering Split Screen mode, several reasons could be causing the issue. Some common reasons are as follows:

  1. 🖥️ macOS Version: Split Screen (Split View) was introduced in OS X El Capitan (10.11). Ensure your Mac is running this version or newer.
  2. 📱 App Compatibility: Not all apps support Split View. The app must be developed to work in full-screen mode to be compatible with Split View.
  3. ⚙️ System Settings: Some system settings or third-party apps might interfere with Split View. For instance, if Displays have separate Spaces is unchecked in Mission Control settings, Split View won’t work.
  4. 🚫 Third-party Software: Some software, especially window management tools, might conflict with macOS’s native Split View feature.
  5. ❗ Hardware Issues: Rarely, hardware issues or glitches can prevent certain features from working correctly.

If you’ve checked these potential causes and still face issues, consider restarting your Mac or seeking support from Apple or relevant forums.

Double Your Productivity With Mac Split Screen View

Mastering the Split Screen feature on a Mac can significantly elevate your multitasking game, allowing for a more organized and efficient workflow. With the tips and shortcuts provided in this guide, you’re now equipped to harness the full potential of your Mac’s screen real estate.

Here are some more tips to enhance your productivity on Mac:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I split more than two screens on Mac?

    On a Mac, native Split View supports only two screens side by side. For more than two, consider third-party window management tools like Magnet or BetterSnapTool. These apps allow enhanced window arrangements, facilitating multiple split screens beyond the default capability.

  2. What is the shortcut for Split Screen on Mac?

    On a Mac, you can use Control ^ + Command ⌘ + F to toggle the active window between standard and full-screen modes. However, this is not a dedicated shortcut for Split Screen. You can create a custom keyboard shortcut for Split Screen via System Settings.

  3. How can I Split Screens on a Mac without full screen?

    You can split screens on a Mac without full screen even though Split View uses full screen. You can manually resize windows for a split-screen effect without entering the full screen. Simply drag window edges to position them side by side. This method provides a tailored split-screen experience without using the full-screen mode.

  4. What macOS versions support the Split Screen feature?

    The Split Screen feature was introduced in macOS with OS X El Capitan (10.11) and is available in all subsequent macOS versions, including macOS Sonoma. Ensure your Mac runs at least OS X El Capitan to utilize this multitasking capability.

  5. How do I quickly switch between apps in Split View without using the trackpad?

    To swiftly switch between apps in Split View on a Mac without the trackpad, use the keyboard shortcuts Control ^ + Left Arrow or Control ^ + Right Arrow. These commands allow seamless navigation between the two apps in Split View mode.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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