Using Split View Screens in macOS Big Sur

Split View Screens is a feature of macOS that allows you to view two applications in fullscreen mode on a single display. It enables efficient workflow and is superb for researching something in Safari, while using the Notes app or reading about a venue and looking it up via Maps.

Using Split View

Step 1 – To use Split View mode, first open an app you want to use as a split-screen app. Here we’ve chosen Safari but any app that’s compatible will do. Just open the app window; there’s no need to open it as a full screen.

Step 2 – Click on the window’s top bar and drag it upwards, onto the menu bar. A strip appears, offering the current desktop image and a receptacle for the app you’re dragging. Drop the window onto the plus sign to make it a full screen app.

Step 3 – Go back to the desktop and open the second app you wish to use as a full-screen app in Split View mode. Here we’re using Apple’s own Pages word processor app, though once again, you can use almost any app on your Mac.

Step 4 – Drag the window for this second app upwards, onto the menu bar, as you did in the second step of the process. The strip appears again. Drop the second app onto the desktop you created earlier showing the first app, which is represented by an icon on this strip.

Step 5 – The two apps now offer a combined icon, which you can see here, labelled ‘Safari & Pages’. This is a single desktop, in which both those apps are running, in split view. To open them, click on the icon in the usual way.

Step 6 – In Split View mode, you can make full use of the two apps, just as if they were each running singly in full-screen mode. If you wish to allocate one app more space than the other, click and drag the black line that divides them.

Step 7 – Another way of setting up a Split View is by using the green window expand/decrease size button (located in the upper left of any open window). With an open app, move the mouse pointer over to the green icon, then let it hover for a second or two. In time a sub-menu will appear with several options. Choose to either Tile the window to the left or right of the display.

Step 8 – Once the window has been Tiled to the side of the screen you wanted, simply click on the remaining open app which is now displayed in the other half of the screen. This will expand the app to fill the other half of the screen.

Step 9 – To take one of the apps back out of full Split View mode, move the pointer to the top of the screen until the gumdrops appear; then click on the green icon, just like you would with a regular full-screen app. The app in question leaves full screen mode.

Step 10 – A useful trick with split view apps is to open two Finder windows, allowing you to manually compare and copy between two folders. To copy an item (instead of simply moving it) hold ALT while you drag an item from one window to another.

Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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