Windows has always been a great environment for multitasking, with the ability to run multiple applications at once and to switch between them with relative ease.
In Windows 10, Microsoft tightened up the snapping mechanism and expanded its functionality. Today, the latest version of Windows 10 offers a number of ways to split your screen into multiple windows and get real work done, with better support for higher-resolution displays and multiple monitors.
One of Windows 10’s most important contributions to split-screen multitasking is Snap Assist, which makes it easier to select an open application window when you are choosing which applications to arrange on your screen. Here’s how to use it:
Step 1: Choose the window you want to snap to one half of the screen, then drag it to the edge.
Step 2: A translucent outline of where it will snap to will appear. If you’re happy with it, let go, and your window will snap into that position.
Alternatively, press and hold the Windows key and the Left or Right Arrow key to snap the last selected window to one side of the screen.
Step 3: If you have other windows or applications open, when you snap your chosen window, you’ll also see a number of options that can fill the second half. Click on one, and it will automatically snap into place opposite the first window. If you don’t and the selection grid disappears, drag your second window to the edge of the empty space.
Step 4: To resize the two windows, hover the cursor over the dividing line until it becomes two arrows. Click and hold on the divider to adjust the two windows accordingly. However, there’s a limit to how narrow a window can be.
Use the keyboard shortcut
Want a faster way to do this on your keyboard? There is a shortcut to split windows that are really useful. In an active window, press and hold the Windows key and then press either the Left or Right Arrow key.
This should automatically snap the active window to the left or right. Select another window to fill the second empty space.
Snapping more than two windows
If you have a large or high-resolution display, you can take advantage of all of that extra screen real estate by snapping up to four windows on a single screen using Corner Snap.
Step 1: Drag and drop your first window into any corner.
Note: To use the keyboard shortcut, press and hold the Windows key followed by the Left or Right Arrow key to snap the active window to the left or right. Next, press and hold the Windows key followed by the Up or Down Arrow key to move the snapped window into the top or bottom corner.
Step 2: With the first active window in a corner, drag and drop your second window into any other available corner. You are not required to pick a specific corner.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2 to fill in the other two corners as needed.
Note that a 2020 update to Windows 10 updated this four-window design and made all the snapped windows act as a single window. This may not sound important, but it’s really handy when you have to do something else, like open an additional app or file while working with your snapped windows — they will now stay together, waiting for you to get back.
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Turning off Snap Assist and adjusting settings
Snap Assist is easy to disable if it becomes troublesome. Here’s how:
Step 1: Open the Settings app. It’s the gear icon on the Start Menu.
Step 2: Select System.
Step 3: Select Multitasking listed on the left.
Step 4: Click the Toggle displayed under Snap Windows to toggle this feature off.
If you’d rather disable specific Snap Assist features rather than toggling it completely off, there are three settings you can disable instead. Just ignore Step 4 and uncheck the boxes next to each setting as needed:
- When I snap a window, automatically size it to fill available space
- When I snap a window, show what I can snap next to it
- When I resize a snapped window, simultaneously resize any adjacent snapped window
Customize grids with a third-party app
While the native Windows 10 option is great, there are third-party apps that allow for more specific, grid-like changes to your windows so you can get all your favorite tools exactly where you want them and at the right size. We suggest using AquaSnap.
AquaSnap allows you to create and adjust as many split windows as you need with a snap function that works similarly to the Windows version. It’s a bit more flexible and includes a few neat, additional tools like snapping small windows together and other tricks.
The Personal edition is free to download and use, providing basic features like docking, snapping, stretching, keyboard shortcuts, and more. The Professional version, offered in Standard ($18) and Site ($600) licenses, add mouse shortcuts, multi-monitor support, and three other premium features.
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