Any time you use your Mac for more than just browsing, writing an email, or checking Twitter, you are likely working with multiple windows at once. After a while, the number of windows you have open becomes more of a headache than a help. The good news is that there are solutions that will help. They include everything from keyboard shortcuts and Apple’s own split-window tools to third-party software. You’re just a few steps away from completely rethinking how you use your Mac every day.
Keyboard shortcuts may not be your first thought for helping manage multiple windows on a Mac. However, these shortcuts help you better manage without ever having to lift your fingers off the keyboard.
- Minimize the frontmost window: Command + M
- Hide the windows of the frontmost application: Command + H
- Open a new window or a new document depending on which application is currently open: Command + N
- Close the frontmost window: Command + W
- Switch to the next open or most recently used application: Command + Tab
- Show all of the frontmost application windows: Control + Down Arrow
- Move to the next active window: Control + F4
- Move the focus to the floating window: Control + F5
- Hide the dock for a little more window space: Option + Command + D
Using Split View
When you need to really focus and get your work done, Apple has baked a solution into its latest macOS updates. Appropriately called Split View, Apple’s software solution quickly puts two apps side by side. That’s a perfect solution for anyone who needs a web browser on one side and Word, Pages, PowerPoint or Excel on another. This works best on macOS Catalina but Mac users on older software can get instructions here.
1. Open any window (Safari, Chrome, Word, etc.) and look for the green button in the upper-left corner. Hover the mouse cursor on the green button so a drop-down box appears.
3. Choose one of the two options: Tile Window to Left of Screen or Tile Window to Right of Screen.
4. Once you have chosen a side, the opposite side of your monitor/display will show you the rest of the open applications you have on your Mac. Choosing another app will fill up the other half the screen. You now have two apps open with a 50/50 screen split.
5. To work in either window, click on whichever side of the screen you want to work in.
6. To exit the split-screen, click on the green button again and select “Exit Full Screen.”
All too often you will be working on your Mac and the screen gets too cluttered. When that happens, Apple has devised another solution that comes in handy. Spaces are best described as different desktops that can display a multitude of apps. For example, you can have one desktop that has your browser and email app and a second space that might have PowerPoint and Excel. This is a perfect solution for when your current desktop is getting too crowded, but you do not want to close any applications.
To add a space:
1. Swipe up on your MacBook trackpad with three or four fingers to open “Mission Control.” Alternatively, you can press the F3 key on your Mac keyboard as well.
2. Look to the top right of the screen where a giant “+” button is available and c;lick on it.
3. You can open up to sixteen different Spaces.
4. To switch between Spaces, swipe left or right on the trackpad with three or four fingers. Alternatively, you can press Control + Left (or Right) Arrow to move to the right or left Space.
5. Spaces can also be dragged around by clicking and holding on any individual space and moving it around.
As good as Apple’s built-in tools are, they are not for everyone and don’t solve every problem. Sometimes something a little more powerful is needed. Fortunately, there are a number of third-party applications to fill the void.
One of the most popular applications is Magnet, which is available on the Mac App Store for $2.99. This lightweight window management tool will help you snap windows into a variety of predefined spaces. You can drag windows to the corners to create quarters or the bottom of the display to create thirds. Do you have an ultra-wide monitor? Then you can create sixths. Magnet ensures you take advantage of every inch of possible workspace.
Managing windows on your Mac can have significant positive impacts on your day-to-day workflow. While it will not make your work better, it can help you feel more efficient and more productive. That Apple is working to include its own solutions is proof that these tools are necessary and beneficial. What’s your favorite way to manage windows on macOS?