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How To Run Two Windows 8 Apps At the Same Time With the Snap Feature

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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.

Using Snap

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Comments (21)

  1. PhantomTurtle

    More than one program at a time, Amazing! (that was sarcasm if you haven’t already noticed)

  2. daniel

    soooo…that seems to kill one of the core reasons that I preferred to use Windows over OSX – the ability to have to docs open side by side at the “snap” of a couple shortcuts for research and easy editing. guess I won’t be using that upgrade key I have.

  3. Greg

    I don’t know anyone who intends on using Win8.. I think MS is going to feel the money bleed on this OS..

  4. Scott

    You could still snap any “desktop” app the same way as in windows 7. This just allows you to also snap the new “metro apps”. What’s really cool is that you could have one metro app snapped, like your email…then 2 other desktop apps, like a browser and microsoft word. I really like the feature.

  5. beergas

    Don’t know. I’m so used to having 11 icons across bottom screen W 7 x64 Ultimate. Just click any one of them to foreground. When resized it holds that size and lets other apps run right by them.
    Can read emails and still see stock charts, L2 screen, TOS platforms (2 instances, 1 for CNBC, 1 for the charts/chat). Just not getting the vibe I can do all this in W 8 desktop mode.
    Maybe when I can see screen shots showing a row of program icons along bottom….
    IE 10 still bit iffy on LastPass needing desktop for full function. Just seems obstacles at every turn.
    Could be into early ’13 until more patches & second party ‘fixes’ for what MS broke until I reconsider. But how expensive will a 24″ touch monitor be? Could be heavy in lap? Warm tho!
    Thanks for write up.

  6. Paulo Cezar

    1984 anyone? Doublethink? Doublespeak?
    Any version of windows use to allow you to open as many windows as you want. Now this dumb down version only allows two windows opened at fixed ratios and you’re advertising it as “progress” ?
    Maybe that could make sense in WP but in Windows RT/8 it’s pure nonsense.
    Galaxy Note II will allow you to resize 2 windows at will. That´s much much better.

  7. pbug56

    The best of CGA back for 2012! I gues Microsloth doesn’t think people need multitasking anymore. This isn’t a Modern interface, it’s an Antique interface. Or Mutro – named for the mutts that might use it. Like your smart dog or cat who like touching pretty CGA pictures. Or maybe your 2 year old kid.

    This idiocy may make sense on a pad (though who in their right mind would put Windoze, viruses and all on a pad), and it might make sense on a smartphone, but anyone who wants a functional smartphone gets either Android or the me-me-me-phone.

  8. DaFoo

    Why are people here pretending the desktop doesn’t exist? You can still open all the windows you want on the desktop, just not with metro apps. No tablet allows for two apps to be on the screen for the same time, as far as I know.

  9. Jrau18

    Because all of the people complaining are the ones who literally know nothing about the changes in Windows 8.

  10. Paul

    Yet another article explaining how to make Win 8 do things that all previous versions of Windows did. Surely everyone can see what’s wrong with this picture?

  11. Jack

    @Jrau18 It’s true, people complain about it all the time. They never used the OS at all or looked at it for 10 minutes and yelled, “I DON”T WANT TO CHANGE MY ENTIRE WAY OF USING MY DESKTOP!1!1one”

    Listen people, think of it this way: You have two interfaces, the same Windows 7(and previous versions) desktop that you have now and another desktop that acts like a tablet desktop. That is the only difference! You basically have two different desktops that you can switch to at will. The metro one acts like a start menu(you can easily add the regular start button back if you like) and is accessed via the windows key. To go to the desktop press Win+D or click the desktop tile.

    You can get metro apps which run only in the metro interface(a.k.a. the tiled desktop). You never have to use the metro desktop at all if you follow the article to add back the start button. Now stop whining and actually TRY the OS out for more than 10 minutes and keep these two hotkeys in mind Windows key = Metro “desktop”, Win+D = Same good old “desktop”. Yes, it’s changed from previous versions, but barely at all. I like it because I can run metro apps are lightweight and use very little resources in the background.

  12. Ryan

    All this fuss is funny. You can have Word and iTunes and something else running all at the same time. It’s just the ‘great’ new Metro apps that can’t be open at the same time. I hate windows usually but 8 is the best thing they’ve put out in a long time … takes 15 minutes or so to get used to but after that it’s fine.

  13. charlie

    Seems like MS has abandoned their customers and dedicated users to pursue Apple users. why call it windows 8??? call it: ” kinda like an apple”

  14. Navid

    On my windows 8 I can not be able to drag any apps to right or left side and use the other side to run another app. How can I be able to do that?

  15. Notorious_DIE

    Snap is for APPS, not for programs running in the desktop, you can still 50/50 programs, but APPS which are programs that run in the mobile/tablet portion of Windows 8. Programs however operate as normal and if you people that say you don’t like something actually try it out you’d be amazed. While personally I’ve installed Win8 and used it enough to tweak settings and setup the kids PC (as I’m still on 7 for the main PC,) you would see those differences. My family had a lot of the same concerns but after using it for a week I no longer hear the complaints, or the lets go back to 7 rhetoric. Give the new OS a chance before you condemn it, and seek further information before you think all is lost as that may just be from the view of the one.

  16. Simpson

    I need to be able to read pdfs and articles on the internet while taking notes on them in word. With windows 8, either the pdf/internet page is so small I can’t read it, or the word page is so small it won’t let me type. No more adjusting the window size yourself. So, yeah, I can have both open at once, but I can’t USE them both at once, so what’s the point?

  17. Molly

    Same kind of problem as Simpson. I do translations, often from a pdf document that I have downloaded to a Word document I’m creating. I’m accustomed to making the pdf image on the screen appear on the bottom half of the screen and Word on the top half. Is there a way to make a pdf image take up only part of the screen so I can look at something else at the same time? The snap feature is no use – the text is too small to read. Any help would be appreciated.

  18. Molly

    HEY Simpson. You CAN have two things open at once, if one is something online that is not a pdf – just a web page. You can reduce the size and change the shape of it just like you would with a Word document. At least, I can do it with Firefox. So I have the web page on one half of the screen and my Word document on the other. Or you could put one above the other.

    But it still looks like you can’t do it with a pdf file.

    So if you can get the internet document you want on the web page without opening it as a pdf, you can do it.

  19. Patrick

    Same as NAVID
    it wont let me fix a “snapped” app to the side. Strange.
    Its on old computer, upgrade from Vista.
    Win 8 dont seem that bad. After using 8 ours to find paint, it goes smoothly from here :)

  20. Patrick

    and to Molly.
    Maybe it works to download an other pdf program, open it as usual on the desktop, not as an app,
    and go for 50/50???

  21. gummyballz

    This might be great on some tab, but on PC this is frustrating… I can have desktop and one “app” or when I am feeling super saucy I can run an “app” and IE WOOT!!!!! not…. glad I did a dual boot… anyways this multi tasking should not be an issue on desktops especially when I have dual monitors..

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