How to Split Screen on Mac: Multitask Like a Pro

BY Stephen Gicharu

Published 16 Jun 2024

Multitasking is important for staying productive. Whether you’re a student with many assignments, a professional handling multiple projects, or someone who likes having several things open at once, knowing how to split your screen on a Mac is very useful.

This feature lets you split your screen across multiple monitors and work on different tasks at the same time, making your workflow smoother and boosting your productivity. 

For tips and tricks on screen splitting keep reading our guide on how to split screen on Mac.

What Is Split Screen?

Split Screen on macOS lets you split your computer screen into two parts. Each part can show a different app or window. It helps you do multiple things at once without getting confused or having too many windows open. 

For example, you can read a document on one side while writing an email on the other. It keeps your workspace organized and makes it easier to get things done faster.

Split Screen Functionality

Split Screen helps you multitask. By dividing your screen into separate windows or sections, you can easily use different apps or windows without losing focus.

This feature is handy for tasks that need multiple information sources or working on related jobs at the same time.

Benefits of Using Split Screen on Mac

Using the Split Screen feature on your Mac can boost your productivity. Here are the key benefits:

Increased Productivity

With Split Screen, you can avoid constantly switching between applications or windows, which can waste time and disrupt your workflow. By having multiple applications or documents open side by side and exit split view, you can easily transition between tasks without losing momentum or context.

Improved Multitasking

Split Screen helps you multitask better by giving each app or window its own space. You can work on multiple projects at once without the mess of overlapping windows.

You can easily reference one document while editing another or follow a tutorial while practicing in a different app.

Streamlined Workflow

By using Split Screen, you can organize your workspace for a more efficient workflow. Instead of constantly minimizing, maximizing, or rearranging windows, you can have everything you need accessible and organized on your screen.

This helps you stay focused and reduces the mental effort needed to manage multiple browser windows together.

Better Organization

Split Screen keeps your desktop organized by preventing overlapping windows. Each app or document stays in its section, so you can switch between two apps or tasks easily without the mess and destruction of a cluttered desktop.

Enhanced Focus

By dividing your windows into sections, Split Screen helps you stay focused on tasks. This is especially useful for projects needing full attention, as you can reserve part of your screen for the main task while keeping other apps or references in separate spaces but easily accessible.

Split Screen Requirements on Mac

Before starting the step-by-step guide for using Split Screen on your Mac, make sure your device meets the requirements. Let’s look at the compatible macOS versions and hardware specifications.

Compatible macOS Versions

Split Screen has been available on macOS since El Capitan (macOS 10.11). If you’re using a newer macOS version like Monterey, Big Sur, or Catalina, you shouldn’t have any trouble accessing and using Split Screen.

Necessary Hardware

Although Split Screen is a software feature, your Mac’s hardware can affect how well it works. Macs with bigger screens or higher resolutions might give you a better Split Screen experience because they offer more space to organize your apps or windows.

Step-by-Step Guide to Split Screen on Mac

Now that you know the advantages and what you need for Split Screen, let’s look at how to set it up on your Mac. We’ll cover two methods: using Split View and using Mission Control.

Using Split View in macOS

Split View is the built-in Split Screen feature in macOS El Capitan. Here’s how to get the split view feature use it:

  1. Open the applications or windows you want to work with simultaneously.
  2. Hover your cursor over the green “full-screen” button in the top-left corner of one of the application windows.
  3. Select the “Tile Window to Left of Screen” or “Tile Window to Right of Screen” option from the dropdown menu.
  4. Click on the second application or window you want to use in Split Screen mode. It will automatically fill the remaining space on your screen.
  5. Adjust the size of each section by clicking and dragging the black divider line that separates the two windows.

Using Mission Control

If you want more flexibility or need to split your full-screen view into more than two sections, you can use the Mission Control button. Here’s how:

  1. Open the apps or windows you want to use.
  2. Access Mission Control by swiping up with three or four fingers on your trackpad or pressing the Mission Control key (usually F3).
  3. Drag the app windows to where you want them on your screen.
  4. Release the windows when you’re happy with the layout; Mission Control will arrange them as you’ve chosen.

Managing Split Screen on Mac

Once you’ve set up Split Screen on your Mac, you’ll want to know how to navigate and manage the different applications or windows effectively. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the split-screen layout.

Switching Between Apps in Split Screen

To switch between the applications or windows in Split Screen mode, simply click on the section, second app, or dual screen pair you want to focus on. The selected section will become active, and you can interact with it as you normally would.

Customizing Split Screen Layouts

Split Screen on Mac offers flexibility in terms of how you arrange and resize the different sections. Here are a few customization options:

  • Resizing Windows: To resize the sections, hover your cursor over the black divider line separating the windows until it turns into a double-headed arrow. Then, click and drag the divider to adjust the size of each section according to your preferences.
  • Switching Sides for Apps: If you want to swap the positions of the applications or windows, click and hold the top bar of the window you want to move, then drag it to the opposite side of the screen. The windows will automatically switch positions.
  • Using the Menu Bar in Split Screen Mode: While in Split Screen mode, the menu bar is hidden by default. To access it, simply move your cursor to the top of the screen, and the menu bar will temporarily appear, allowing you to access the various menu options for the active application or window.

Exiting Split Screen Mode

When you’re done working in Split Screen mode, there are a few ways to both exit Split Screen and return to your regular desktop view:

  • Click the green “full-screen” button in the upper left corner of either application window.
  • Press the Escape (Esc) key on your keyboard.
  • Swipe upwards with three or four fingers on your trackpad to enter Mission Control, then click on the desktop thumbnail to exit the split-screen view

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While Split Screen on Mac is usually reliable, you might run into issues or limits. Here are some common problems and solutions:

Split Screen Not Working

If Split Screen is not working as expected, try the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Ensure you’re running a compatible macOS version: Split Screen is only available on macOS El Capitan (10.11) or later versions.
  • Check if the application supports Split Screen: Some applications may not be compatible with Split Screen mode. Try using different applications to see if the issue persists.
  • Restart your Mac: Sometimes, a simple restart can resolve any temporary glitches or conflicts that may be preventing Split Screen from functioning properly.

Apps Not Resizing Properly

If you’re having trouble resizing the applications or windows in Split Screen mode, try the following:

  • Close and reopen the problematic application: Sometimes, applications may not respond correctly to resizing attempts. Closing and reopening the application can often resolve this issue.
  • Check for updates: Ensure that both macOS and the applications you’re using are up-to-date. Software updates may include bug fixes or improvements that address resizing issues.

Fixing Lag in Split Screen Mode

If you experience lag or performance issues while using Split Screen, consider the following solutions:

  • Close unnecessary applications: Having too many applications running in the background can strain your Mac’s resources and cause performance issues. Close any applications you’re not using to free up system resources.
  • Adjust visual settings: Some applications or system settings may be taxing your Mac’s graphics capabilities. Try reducing visual effects or resolution to improve performance.
  • Check for resource-intensive processes: Use Activity Monitor to identify and quit any resource-intensive processes that may be causing lag or performance issues.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

While using Split Screen on Mac is easy, there are advanced tips to boost productivity and streamline your workflow.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are handy for Split Screen. Here are some useful ones:

  • Command + Control + F: Enter or exit full-screen mode for the active application or window.
  • Control + Left/Right Arrow: Switch between open applications or windows in Split Screen mode.
  • Option + Command + Left/Right Arrow: Resize the active window in Split Screen mode.

Utilizing Third-Party Apps for Enhanced Split Screen

macOS has its Split Screen feature, but you can also use third-party apps to enhance it. Here are some popular ones:

  • BetterSnapTool: This app allows you to create custom window snapping and resizing layouts, as well as set up keyboard shortcuts for quick access.
  • Magnet: With Magnet, you can easily snap windows to predefined positions on your screen, including Split Screen configurations.
  • Rectangle: This open-source app offers a variety of window management features, including Split Screen functionality and customizable keyboard shortcuts.

Combining Split Screen with Other macOS Features

Split Screen can be even more powerful when combined with other macOS features and tools. For example:

  • Spaces: Use Spaces to create multiple virtual desktops, each with its own Split Screen configuration, allowing you to switch between different workspaces seamlessly.
  • Handoff: With Handoff, you can start working on one device and seamlessly pick up where you left off on another compatible Apple device, even in Split Screen mode.
  • Universal Clipboard: Copy and paste text, images, or files between applications or windows in Split Screen mode using the Universal Clipboard feature.

How to Split Screen on Mac FAQs

Let’s address some common questions regarding split screening on Mac:

What Is the Shortcut for Split Screen on Mac Keyboard?

  • Command + Control + F: Enter or exit full-screen mode for the active application or window.
  • F3 or swipe upwards with three or four fingers: Access Mission Control, where you can drag and drop windows into Split Screen configurations.

How to Use Two Screens on Mac?

If you have an external display connected to your Mac, you can easily extend your desktop across both screens. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Connect the external display to your Mac using the appropriate cable or adapter.
  2. Open System Preferences and click on “Displays.”
  3. Check the “Mirror Displays” box if you want to see the same content on both displays. Alternatively, uncheck the box to extend your desktop across both displays.
  4. Arrange the display layout by dragging the display icons in the “Arrangement” tab to match your physical setup.

How Do You Split Screen?

here are two main ways to split screens on your Mac screen:

  1. Using Split View: Click the green button in the top-left corner of an app window, then pick “Tile Window to Left of Screen” or “Tile Window to Right of Screen.” Click the second window you want for Split Screen.
  2. Using Mission Control: Swipe up with three or four fingers on your trackpad or press the Mission Control key (usually F3). Drag app windows where you want them on your screen.

How Do You Split Screen on a Mac Command Line?

While there is no built-in command-line tool for splitting the screen on a Mac, you can use third-party applications or utilities that provide command-line interfaces for window management. Some popular options left window, include:

  • Rectangle: An open-source window management app that offers command-line support for various window operations, including split-screen configurations.
  • Spectacle: A free and open-source app that allows you to control window layouts using keyboard shortcuts or command-line tools.

How to Split Screen on Mac Final Note

Learning Split Screen on your Mac can make you way more productive. It helps you manage multiple things at once, keeping your workspace tidy and reducing distractions.

Whether you’re a student, a professional, or just like things organized, Split Screen is a game-changer for getting things done on your Mac.