Windows 8’s Modern interface includes support for running two Windows 8 apps side-by-side. This feature, named “Snap,” isn’t explained in the tutorial – you’ll have to know it exists to make use of it.
While the multitasking may be limited compared to Windows desktop multitasking, it’s more flexible than iPad and Android tablets, which can only have a single app on the screen at a time.
Note: Snap only works on monitors that are at least 1366 pixels wide.
To use Snap, first open the app you want to run in snapped mode at least once. After you launch the application, you can press the Windows key to go back to your Start screen. If you move your mouse to the top left corner of your screen, swipe in from the left, or press WinKey+Tab, you’ll see the application you launched running in the background.
Next, launch the app you want to use as your primary application. Swipe in from the left, move your cursor to the top left corner of your screen and move it down along the side of your screen, or press WinKey+Tab and you’ll see the switcher.
Drag and drop (or touch and drag) the app you want to use in split-screen mode. Drop it at the left or right side of your screen.
You’ll now see the app at the side of your screen. Apps show different interfaces when they’re snapped to the side of your screen. Depending on the app, you may see updated information, new messages, or playback controls for music.
You cannot use apps in 50/50 split-screen mode. One app will always be snapped to the side of your screen, while the other app will take up the majority of your screen.
To control which app takes up the majority of your screen, click and drag (or tap and drag) the handle between the two apps. To move an app to the other side of your screen, move your mouse to the top of the screen, grab the app, and drag and drop it to the other side of your screen. If you’re using a touch screen, you can swipe down from the top of the screen to grab an app.
You can also press WinKey+. (period) and WinKey+Shift+. to cycle between the snapped and full-screen modes with keyboard shortcuts.
Because of the way Windows 8 treats the desktop, you can run a Windows 8 app snapped to the side of your screen and use the desktop normally. Just treat the desktop the same way you’d treat any other Windows 8 app.
The desktop isn’t particularly useful when it’s snapped to the side of your screen, however – it will just show thumbnail icons for your open programs.
This feature may be limited compared to Windows desktop multitasking, but it’s a neat feature that allows Windows 8 tablets to run multiple applications at once – a feature not available on competing tablets.
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 11/1/12