How to split screen in Windows and be more productive


(Pocket-lint) — Windows has plenty of different ways to improve your productivity and simple tricks you can use to make life easier. One is split screening so you can keep Windows side-by-side and jump between apps, browsers and more with ease. 

There’s more to these tools than you might realise though, including multi-desktop options, Snap Layouts and app groupings too. 

So stick with us as we guide you through the various split screen options and how to use them. 

How to snap apps in Windows

Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 offer the ability to «snap» applications which is essentially making them stick to one part of the screen and automatically fit a certain size so you can then snap other apps in different positions and create a side-by-side split-screen layout. 

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This is remarkably easy to do and really intuitive once you get the hang of it:

  1. Put your cursor on the top border of the first application you want to snap
  2. Left click on the border and hold it down
  3. Drag the app to the side of your screen i.e. towards the edge of the monitor
  4. You should then see an opaque outline which fills the screen behind the app
  5. Let go of your mouse button

This action should then have snapped the application to one side of your screen. You can then drag another application to the other side of the screen in the same way and that will snap it to the other side so both apps are side-by-side in a split screen view. 

If while doing this you find that the application you’ve dragged has shrunk to a quarter of its normal size, then congratulations you have discovered another way to split-screen. If you want four apps, one in each corner, then follow these steps:

  1. Put your cursor on the top border of the first application you want to snap
  2. Left click it and drag it to the top right corner of your screen 
  3. Release it and as you do a view of your other open apps will appear
  4. Click the other one you want to appear below it 
  5. Watch as it appears
  6. Repeat this process with other apps on the left side of the screen 

If you want to avoid this then be sure to drag the application to the middle of the side of your screen. 

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How to resize split-screen windows

When you have put windows into a split-screen view it’s possible to resize them still. It might be that you want one window to be bigger than the other. That’s easy to do as well. 

With the applications, side-by-side put your cursor in the middle and you’ll see the resize icon appear. Click it and drag it in either direction. This will shrink one window and enlarge the other one. Do this until you’re happy with the size of each window. 

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Quick snapping with shortcuts

With Windows keyboard shortcuts it’s even easier to quickly snap applications and create a split-screen view. 

Follow these steps to quick snap apps:

  1. Make an application «active» by clicking on it
  2. Then press and hold the Windows key on your keyboard and left or right arrows to move it left or right
  3. Click a second app and repeat the process with the opposite arrow to snap it the other way. 

There are other shortcuts that are useful here to:

  • Windows key + D will minimise all applications currently in view
  • Windows key + up arrow maximises the current active application
  • Windows key + down arrow minimises the current active application 

If you have a dual or triple monitor setup you can keep pressing Win + left/right arrow to move an application across each screen until it’s in the right position. 

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How to use Snap Layouts in Windows 11

With Windows 11 Microsoft has made it even easier to multi-task and split screen with various windows easily. 

Snap Layouts is a special feature that makes the process even easier:

  1. Press Windows key + Z on your keyboard
  2. A window will appear with various different layout options
  3. Click one that you like the look of and select the point where you’d like the current app to appear on your screen
  4. Then click the next app to put it in the next position
  5. Repeat until all apps are split screened where you want them

This gives you various options on the size and position of your apps. Whether that’s two apps side-by-side or one large one with two smaller ones. 

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Optimised Snap Groups

With Windows 11 there’s also the benefit of so-called Snap Groups. This is where Windows recognises that you’ve been using two (or more) apps side-by-side and intelligently groups them together. 

When you’ve done this, if you hover over the relevant app in the task bar (e.g. Edge in the screenshot above) you’ll see some icons appear with the app seperated in option to maximise it (bring it to the foreground) on its own or to bring it to the front as a group. 

This is handy because if you’re working on a couple of apps in a split-screen layout then have to click on another app for some reason for a few minutes but want to then jump back into the group you can do so with ease. This means you don’t have to click on two apps again individually but can simply bring the group of apps back to the foreground. 

Writing by Adrian Willings.

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