How to Use OS X’s New Split Windows View

Mac OS X 10.11, El Capitan ushers in a whole slew of new features, chief among them is split-view windows management. Yes, that’s right, OS X finally gives you the ability to split your Windows evenly on your screen, just like Windows.

Not that we’re complaining, the ability to manage windows such as on Windows, even if it’s not quite as robust, is a long welcome change that many converted Windows users often wonder about. There’s a special application you can purchase called Windows Tidy, which will let you achieve something similar to Windows-style snapping, but now with El Capitan, that feature is actually built right into the system.

So how then do you use it?

You will be able to split your OS X Finder windows by click-holding the green window button (normally used to resize windows to maximum) until half the screen turns translucent blue, indicating where you will be able to drop the window into place.

Note you can choose either the left or right edge, it’s totally up to you.

Once you place your window, in this case a Finder view, you will see your remaining windows (in Mission Control), which you can choose to split alongside it. At this point, if you don’t want to continue, you can click anywhere outside a window and it will return your windows to their original arrangement.

Here we have Messages and Chrome open. When we hover over Chrome as if to choose it, a blue border will glow around it.

Click the window you want and it will snap into place alongside the other.

If you want to resize the windows, grab the thick black line between them and drag them to the sizes you want. When you resize, the new, second window will appear foggy.

To escape from this arrangement, click on the green button again. Whatever window you click, will return focus to that window.

Note, if there isn’t another window to snap, a message will appear in the empty desktop space telling you there are “No Available Windows”.

The good news is that this feature exists in OS X now. The reality however, at least at this point, is that the whole execution is pretty rudimentary but shows great promise. Also, some applications might not work with this feature. It’s wholly a productivity booster, though the Windows method of just dragging windows to the screen edge is a lot more satisfying.

RELATED: How to Get Windows Style Window Snapping on OS X Right Now

Additionally, when you snap a window, you’re required to choose another to snap next to it, which feels a little constricting. In Windows, you can still access the desktop space beneath the window, or snap another item alongside it.

Regardless, once we get used to the OS X method, we’re sure it will become almost second nature. If you have any questions or comments you would like to contribute to this article, please leave your feedback in our discussion forum.


Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.