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How to Split the Screen on Your Mac

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The Power of Mission Control

A well-known Mac feature for managing open windows is called Mission Control. Since 2011, starting with OS X 10.7 Lion, it has allowed users to more easily manage and find windows when multitasking. However, it can do so much more than people realize, like create multiple desktop spaces on one or more monitors and enable split view for side-by-side app use.

You can find Mission Control in your Applications folder, but it is more common to launch it with one of two shortcuts. On most keyboards, it can be launched by pushing “F3”, and on a Mac Trackpad or with a Magic Mouse the default gesture is to swipe up with three or four fingers.

Using Apps in Full Screen Mode

When working with one app you can take advantage of your entire Mac screen by pushing the small green circle in the top left. To switch between this and your regular desktop view you can launch Mission Control and move your mouse pointer to the top of the screen. This move will expand the “spaces” bar that will show your main “Desktop” space along a separate space for any app that is fullscreen. You can also enable gestures in your Trackpad settings so you can move between these spaces with a swipe from side to side with a particular number of fingers.

Creating Multiple Desktops

If you would like to create a whole separate desktop layout then you can look for the plus sign on the top right of Mission Control. Clicking this plus sign will create a completely separate desktop for you to utilize. This is perfect when you want start a separate project without disrupting your current workflow. I find it useful to create a separate desktop for my personal and work use.

How to use Split View

Split view is one great way to use two apps side-by-side without adjusting windows manually. When you enable split view it will be created as a separate “space” in your Mission Control. This means that you can easily switch between the split view and other spaces using Mission Control or Trackpad gestures.

There are two ways enable split view with two windows. The first method starts with clicking and holding on the green circle on the top left of any app window until you see one half of the screen become lightly shaded. Letting go of the green button will drop the current app window into the shaded half of the screen. The other half of the screen will then show the remaining app windows for you to choose from. Clicking on one of these windows will select it for the other side of your split view.

The second method for enabling a split view is from Mission Control. Launch Mission Control and drag and hold one of the desired side-by-side app windows onto the top “spaces” bar and wait for a new space to be created and drop that window there. Then you can grab any of the remaining app windows and drag it onto the new space you just created. Dropping this window here will enable split view for the two windows you selected.

Managing Spaces with Mission Control

The ultimate delight in using the different spaces you can create in Mission Control is the ease with which you can manage those spaces on one or more monitors. Whether the space is full screen, desktop, or split view, you can easily grab them from Mission Control’s spaces bar and drag to put them in a different order or move them between different monitors. Using these built-in features will allow you to treat your one screen as a multiscreen layout with infinite possibilities.

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