How to Use Split Screen on Mac

Parth Shah

One of the prime reasons people prefer to get work done on the desktop is screen real estate. 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, both Windows and Mac have a handy split-screen mode built-in. If you don’t have an external monitor to multitask, you can always use Mac's split view to peak at two apps at once.

Split screen on mac

When you want to see a couple of browser tabs on a single screen without everything getting jumbled, turn to a split-screen. Split screens allow you to have two sections, each with their own set of information. These sections make you productive, allows you to get work done quickly, and see more information all at once without having a second screen.

There are multiple scenarios in which you will find yourself using a 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 the latest quarter results while you compose a complimented email to the sales team. The scenarios are endless here.

In this post, we will explain how to use a split-screen on Mac and a troubleshooting trick 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 at the upper left corner – Minimize, Close, and Full Screen.

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

  1. Enter Full Screen
  2. Tile Window to Left of Screen
  3. Tile Windows to Right of Screen
Three options at top

Select the tile left or the right option to pin the app on the display's left or right side. The OS will hide the Mac Dock and tuck the app on left or right. Mac will showcase the minimized apps on the other side. Select the app from the list and open the app on the second half of the display.

Select app to split

How to Close Split Screen

It’s fairly easy to close the split-screen on Mac. To exit the split view mode on a MacBook, press Escape to return the windows to the normal mode.

Exit split screen

However, this method won’t work if the Escape button has a different function in one of the apps. You can click on the green circle in the top corner of the window to exit one of the apps. To exit the other app, open it (it will be in full-screen mode) and click on the green circle there as well.

How to Switch Sides in Split Screen

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

Change split screen sides

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

How to Adjust Split Screen View on a Mac

Sometimes, you may need more screen area for one app compared to others in the Split view. You can easily allocate how much space an app takes up.

Resize split window

Hold the black screen separator and move it as far as you need to the left or the right. Keep in mind, some apps need a certain amount of space on the screen and won’t allow you to move the separator further than what they require.

Split Screen Not Working

By default, the Split screen function on your Mac should work perfectly fine. If you can't enable the option, then you can follow these steps.

Step 1: Tap on the Apple icon at the upper left corner.

Step 2: Open the System Preferences menu.

Split screen not working

Step 3: Navigate to Dock and enable 'Displays have separate Spaces' option.

Try the Split view again and see if it works or not. As for compatibility, The split view mode is supported by all operating systems starting from OS X El Capitan.

Split Screen Limitation on Mac

While the Split view mode on Mac works fine in general, there is a limitation we would like Apple to address in future updates.

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

Multitask Smartly on Mac

Using the Split screen on Mac, you can easily get more things done. I have found myself using the Split view mode on Mac more frequently than I thought. I’m sure you will feel the same. How do you intend to use the Split screen on Mac? Which two apps you normally keep during the Split view mode? Share your routine in the comments section below.

Next up: Struggling to keep things in order on your Mac? Read the post below to learn the top seven apps to stay organized.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Parth Shah

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Parth Shah

Parth previously worked at EOTO.tech covering tech news. He is currently freelancing at Guiding Tech writing about apps comparison, tutorials, software tips and tricks and diving deep into iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows platforms.