How to Split Screens In Windows

See multiple apps on your screen with Windows Split Screen

A screen shot of a Windows 10 screen with multiple apps showing using Split Screen.
Split Screen and other options in Windows 10. Joli Ballew

If you work with multiple open windows, you likely spend a lot of time moving among them. At any given moment, you might have several windows open; a web browser to surf the Internet, a mail program to manage email, a couple of applications to perform work, and perhaps even a game or two. Sure, there are a few traditional options for switching among them, like Alt + Tab and resizing the open windows, but there’s another option that might suit your needs better, Windows Split Screen.

All versions of Windows offer some way to split apps on a screen so that you can see more than one at a time. However, what you can do on your machine is dependent on the operating system and the screen resolution. You can do more with Windows 10 than Window XP, for example, and you have more options with a high screen resolution than a low one.

If you can’t perform the tasks outlined here for your operating system, consider changing your screen resolution to something higher. 

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Split Your Screen in Windows 10

There are several ways to split a screen in Windows 10 but the easiest is with Snap Assist. This feature has to be enabled in Start > Settings > System > Multitasking, although it should be enabled by default.

Snap Assist lets you drag a window to a corner or side of the screen to “snap” it there, which in turn makes room for other apps to be snapped in the resulting empty screen space.

To split your screen in Windows 10 with Snap Assist using the mouse:

  1. Open five windows and/or applications. (This is a good amount to practice with.)
  2. Place your mouse in an empty area at the top of any open window, hold down the left mouse button, and drag the window to the left side of the screen, toward the center of that side.
  3. Let go of the mouse. The windows should take up half the screen, although in some cases it snaps to the top left; it just takes practice.)
  4. Click any window that now appears on the right side of the screen. It will position itself to take up the other half.
  5. With two windows side-by-side, drag the dividing line that separates them to resize both windows simultaneously.
  6. Access and then drag any other open window to the right side of the screen. It will likely snap into the top right corner.
  7. Continue to experiment with dragging and dropping each of the open windows. Click any smaller window to bring it to the forefront.
  8. Drag any window to the top of the screen to maximize it.

You can also use the Windows key + left arrow and Windows key + right arrow to snap windows. 

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Windows Split Screen in Windows 8.1

A picture of Windows 8.1 with a man's hand over the top of it.
Use your finger to open and snap apps. Getty Images

Microsoft assumed with Windows 8 and 8.1 that most users would have a touch screen device. If you have a touch screen you can use the snap feature to position two windows on the screen at one time using your finger. What is outlined here can also be performed with a mouse though.

To use split screen with Windows 8.1:

  1. Open the two apps you want to view at the same time, and open one of those in full screen mode.
  2. Swipe in from the left and hold your finger on the screen until the second app is docked on the left side of the screen. (Alternatively, position your mouse in the top left corner, click the app to move, and drag it to the desired position on the screen.)
  3. Tap and hold the dividing line that appears in between the two apps and drag it to the left or right to reposition the apps to take up more or less room on the screen.

If your screen resolution is high enough and your video card supports it, you can position three apps on the screen. Experiment with this to see if your computer is compatible. 

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How to Do Split Screen in Windows 7

A picture of a Windows 7 box.
Windows 7 supports Snap. Getty Images

Windows 7 was the first version of Windows to support the Snap feature. It was enabled by default.

To use the Snap feature in Windows 7 to position two windows side-by-side:

  1. Open two windows and/or applications.
  2. Place your mouse in an empty area at the top of any open window, hold down the left mouse button, and drag the window to the left side of the screen, toward the center of that side.
  3. Let go of the mouse. The window will take up half the screen.
  4. Repeat Step 2 for the second window, this time dragging to the right before letting go of the mouse button. The window will take up the other half of the screen.

In Windows 7 you can also use the Windows key and the left or right arrow keys to move windows around. 

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Split Your Screen in Windows XP

Windows XP Home Edition
Courtesy of Microsoft.com

Windows XP didn’t support the Snap feature; that feature appeared in Windows 7. Windows XP offered options to split multiple apps horizontally or vertically instead. Depending on your screen resolution, you could snap up to three windows.

To snap two windows to take up half the screen on a Windows XP computer:

  1. Open two applications.
  2. Click one of the app icons on the Taskbar, press and hold the CTRL key on the keyboard, and then click the second app icon on the Taskbar.
  3. Right-click either app icon and then choose Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically.