How to Activate Split View on Your iMac

By Mark L. Chambers

From time to time, the full-screen view drove iMac owners bonkers — that’s because full-screen view restricted you to displaying a single application window. Sure, you could open multiple applications and put each in full-screen view, but many tasks (especially those that involved comparison or collaboration) required the constant use of ⌘+Tab to switch between windows. Power users simply had to resign themselves to using full-screen view with one application.

Apple must have heard those cries of frustration, because the arrival of El Capitan introduces Split View, which allows you to display and use two applications simultaneously in full-screen view! To activate Split View, follow these steps:

  1. Move your pointer over the Zoom/Full-Screen button in one of the desired application windows, and click and hold. El Capitan switches to full-screen view as usual, but you’ll notice that the left half of the screen is highlighted in blue — this indicates the side of the screen that this application window will occupy. Application windows that have been minimized to the Dock can’t be used in Split View. You also can’t use application windows that are already set to full-screen view (go figure). If you’d rather park the application in the other half of the screen, just move the pointer and drag the window to the right side. (At this moment, you’re still holding down on the mouse or trackpad surface.)
  2. Lift your finger from the mouse or trackpad to “drop” the window into the desired half of the screen.
  3. Click the desired application that should share the other half of the full-screen view. The available application windows (which are not currently minimized or in full-screen view) are shown as thumbnails. Click a thumbnail, and the window expands to fill the other half of the Split View screen.
Split View screen
One half of the Split View screen is ready, but what goes in the other half?

Once your Split View screen has been set up, you can switch between the two applications by simply clicking the desired window. If you need to resize one of the windows to make it larger, just move your pointer over the center line until it changes into a double-arrow icon; then click and drag the line to the desired spot.

You can display the Finder menu bar for the currently active window in Split View — just move your pointer to the top of the screen.

To exit Split View:

  1. Display the application menu and click the Zoom/Full-Screen button.
  2. Display the application menu and choose View→Exit Full Screen.
  3. Press the Exit Full Screen shortcut: ⌘+Control+F.

Unfortunately, not all applications currently support Split View, but look for this functionality to be added to a growing number of applications in the near future.