How to Use Split View in OS X El Capitan

When OS X El Capitan (10.11) was released in September, it came with some really great improvements. One of those improvements was a way to use two apps at the same time in a way that both apps are easy to view and are both seemingly in the forefront. Apple calls this Split View.

While it's easy to use Split View once you know how to use it, it can be a little confusing at first because it's not as intuitive as you would think. In the spirit of helping to improve your personal productivity, I thought I would show you a few simple tricks.

Split View is a great way to take a not-so-organized screen like the one above, and convert it into something that is easier to use and can help improve our productivity.

First off, it's important to note that not all apps inherently support Split View. A quick and easy way to determine if a specific app supports this feature is by hovering over the circles in the top left corner of the app to reveal the symbols. If the green circle contains two triangles pointing in opposite directions, we know the app supports Split View. Below is an example:

If hovering over the circles reveals a [+] symbol in the green circle, we know that app does not support Split View. As a matter of interest, I tried finding an app that I use on a regular basis that did not supply Split View and it couldn't be done. Most developers have made the necessary adjustments (thankfully).

Now that we know what apps support Split View, let's use it!

To enter Split View mode, we simply determine two apps that we want to use in this way. One will be located on the left of the screen and one will be located on the right. In one of those apps, we will click and hold the green circle in the top left corner of the app. This will adjust the apps slightly at the same time the left side of the screen will turn a faint blue color, like this:

While still holding the mouse button down, we can either let go (which will snap that app to the left side of the screen) or move to the right side and let go (which will snap that app to the right side of the screen). Either way, once you let go of the mouse button, that app will resize to fill 50% of the screen's size.

Next, you will notice that the remaining apps will shift to the other side of the screen, waiting for you to choose which app will fill the other side. If an app does not support Split View, it will shrink even small and be located at the bottom of the screen. Simply select the second app, and it will resize itself to fill the rest of the screen. Together, both apps will take up 100% of your screen real estate.

By default, the two apps will share the screen 50/50. If you want one app to take more of the screen than the other, simply click and drag the line that divides them until you have resized them appropriately. The result could look something like this:

There are two ways to exit Split View when you are done. The first option is to simply press the Esc key. This will shrink the activate app to a normal window. The remaining app will automatically switch to full-screen mode, which you can also use Esc to exit out of. The second option is to press the green circle button. This will have the same effect as pressing the Esc key.

Posted on April 21, 2016 and filed under How To, Mac.