How to Use Split Screen on a Mac

An M2 Macbook on a white desk.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek
To use split screen on Mac, hover your mouse over the full screen button at the top of a window to reveal Split View controls. Or, install a third-party app like Rectangle or Magnet to get much more control over macOS window placement.

Looking to divide your Mac desktop equally between open applications? Good news. You can either use Apple’s built-in split view feature for full-screen applications or install a third-party app to get even more control.

Method 1: Use Split View in macOS

macOS has a built-in split screen feature called Split View. The feature works in full-screen mode, which means that the dock and menu bar will be hidden from view until you hover your mouse over the top, bottom, or side of your screen. This is good for hiding distractions and keeps your windows in a separate full-screen space (you can still switch between desktops).

How to Enter Split View

To access Split View, hover your mouse over the green “Full Screen” button at the top of a window until you see three options show up. Select “Tile Window to Left/Right of Screen” to trigger Split View. You’ll enter full-screen mode, and you’ll see a list of currently-open windows on the other side of the screen which you can click to tile to the other side of the display.

Trigger Split View on macOS

How to Switch Screens in Split View

While in Split View you can switch between windows by clicking on one and switch window positions by clicking and dragging a window from one side to the other. You can also click and drag the vertical line between the two windows to redistribute the space accordingly. Hovering the green icon at the top of a window also allows you to switch it out for another.

Two windows side-by-side in Split View on a Mac

How to Exit Split Screen

You can exit Split View by clicking on the green button at the top of the window or hitting the “Esc” button on your keyboard. This window will exit Split View, and the other will switch to full-screen mode. You’ll need to switch to full-screen view by switching to that space or hitting the Mission Control button (F3) to access it.

RELATED: Can You Split Screen on iPhone?

What to Do If Split Screen Isn’t Working

Split View was introduced in Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan, so if you’re running a version of the operating system that’s older than that you won’t be able to use the built-in feature. One of the third party apps below may be a better solution.

If you satisfy the operating system requirements and you’re still having trouble getting the feature working, make sure you’re not already in full screen when attempting to do this. You’ll need to be in standard windowed view for these options to appear correctly, else they’ll be grayed out.

Grayed out Split View options in full screen mode

Lastly, make sure you’ve enabled “Displays have separate Spaces” under System Settings > Desktop & Dock.

Method 2: Use a Third-Party App for More Control

Apple’s take on window management works, but it’s not to everyone’s tastes. Thankfully, there are third-party solutions too. Rectangle is a free and open-source tool that does the job (with a premium Rectangle Pro for more features). We’ve had great success using premium app Magnet ($7.99) too.

Rectangle app for macOS
Rectangle for macOS

These apps work a little differently in that they don’t use full-screen mode to place windows. You can precisely place windows in various parts of the screen using both the menu bar and keyboard shortcuts. You have the usual left and right side tiles and all sorts of in-betweens like top-left corner, centre-half, bottom-half, and shortcuts for centering or shrinking windows too.

Magnet app for macOS
Magnet for macOS

By default, these apps use Control+Option keyboard shortcuts. For example, hitting Control+Option+Right Arrow will tile a window on the right of your screen, while hitting Control+Option+Enter will maximize it. In the case of both apps, all keyboard shortcuts are customizable. Mastering these shortcuts removes the need to take your fingers off the keyboard which can greatly speed up your workflow.

Multitask Like a Pro

Moving windows around your Mac desktop with just a few keyboard shortcuts is a powerful skill to master. To improve your workflow further, consider using Spotlight for everything and asking Siri to complete tasks for you too.

RELATED: How to Split Screen on iPad

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