Bottom line: Learn how to enable split screen view in Windows & Mac. I share time saving tips and keyboard shortcuts for working in multiple windows.

Skill level: Beginner

Work With Multiple Windows in Split Screen

When working with Excel (and other Office applications) we typically need to perform actions between two files. This can include copy/paste, writing formulas, tying out numbers between reports & data, etc.

The split screen view in both Windows & Mac allows us to view and interact with multiple windows at the same time. Of course we could resize the windows manually to achieve this effect, but both operating systems have features that make split screen easy to enable.

So let's take a look at those features.

Split Screen View for Windows

Windows allows us to enable split screen view with both the mouse and keyboard shortcuts.

Split Screen with the Mouse in Windows

To split the screen we can simply drag a Window to the left or right side of the screen. Here are the instructions:

  1. Left-click and hold on the title bar of the window and drag it to the right/left edge of the screen in the middle.
  2. You will see a faint outline of a box take up half the screen.
  3. Release the left mouse button.
  4. On the opposite side of the screen you will see all the open windows displayed in tiles.
  5. Click any tile to maximize that window into the other side of the screen.
  6. This creates a vertical split of both windows.

Split Screen with Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows

Windows also gives us keyboard shortcuts to split the screen.

  1. At any time you can press Win + Left/Right Arrow to move the active window to the left or right.
  2. Release the Windows button to see the tiles on the opposite side.
  3. You can use the tab or arrow keys to highlight a tile,
  4. Press Enter to select it. You can also use the mouse to select it.

The Windows key is located on the left side of the space bar, typically between the Ctrl & Alt keys.

What If Split Screen Doesn't Work?

Sometimes you will move a window to one side (with the mouse or keyboard shortcut) and the tiles won't appear on the opposite side.

This happens when there is already a window on that opposite side that is in split screen.

There are a few ways to fix this:

Minimize All But Active Window

The keyboard shortcut Win+Home will minimize all windows except for the active window. You can then use the mouse or keyboard shortcut to split the screen.

Minimize the Other Window

Another option is to just minimize the window on the opposite side. This usually works unless you have another split window behind it.

Show the Desktop & Start Over

If you forget the Win+Home shortcut, you can also use this technique to minimize windows.

To show the Desktop, press Win+D or left-click the bottom right corner of the screen.

Then open one of the windows you want to split and use the mouse or keyboard shortcut to split it.

Split Screen View for Mac

On a Mac we can also achieve split screen view with the mouse. I don't know of any keyboard shortcuts for this, but please leave a comment below if you figure it out.

To enable split screen on the Mac:

  1. Left-click and hold the Full Screen (green) button in the top-left corner of a window.
  2. You have to hold the mouse button for about a second.
  3. The window will then resize and you should see a shaded box over the right or left half of the screen.
  4. Drag the window to the right or left side and release the mouse button.
  5. All open windows will be displayed on the opposite side in tiles.
  6. Select a tile to maximize the window on the opposite half of the screen.

How to Get Out of Split Screen on Mac

One interesting thing to note is that both of the split windows get put into full screen mode. If you take one window out of full screen, the other will still remain in full screen.

  1. One quick way to get both windows out of full screen is to enable Mission Control (three finger swipe up on track pad or dedicated key (usually F3)).
  2. You will see the new split window as a Space on the top bar.
  3. Drag the space into the bottom half of the screen to remove the split and return the windows back to their original sizes.
  4. Click one of the windows to view it on the desktop.

There are other ways to do this, so feel free to leave a comment below if you have a faster way. I'm not an everyday Mac user…

Working with Files & Folders

It's the beginning of the year and that might mean it's time to organize files and folders. We can use split screen view with File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) to quickly move/copy files between folders.

Holding the Ctrl key while dragging a file to a new folder will make a copy of the file, instead of moving it.

Bonus Tip on Debugging Macros in Split View

In the video above I share a tip for using split screen to debug and step through VBA code. This allows us to see the changes that are made to the Excel file as the code is running.

I use this setup all the time and it's a great way to test, debug, and learn VBA code. It was actually the inspiration for this post, but there a TON of uses for split screen view.

I explain more about writing, testing, and stepping through code in my free upcoming webinar on The 7 Steps to Getting Started with Macros & VBA.

What Else Can We Do with Split Screen?

Split screen is definitely a handy feature for Windows or Mac. There are infinite uses for it, and it can definitely save time when working in multiple windows or applications.

Do you have any other suggestions or techniques you use? If so, please leave a comment below. It will be great to learn some time saving tips from everyone.

Thank you and Happy New Year! 🙂

27 comments

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  • Thanks for the tips about using split screens. What about using the split window option under the view tab? We work with files in split window mode so we can work with the beginning and end of a large file at the same time without hiding important information in the middle. The disadvantage is that we cannot freeze (or don’t know how to) the top row when the window is split. Do you happen to know of a way to do this so we can see the headings when we are deep down into the data?

  • This tip is fine, as far as it goes. I appreciate seeing it…it’s a technique I’ve been using to debug VBA code for some time. When I say ‘as far as it goes’, I have several VBA apps that work with 3 or more workbooks at a time and perform actions on more than one sheet in at least one workbook. It can become quite overwhelming to try to juggle 3 or more sheet windows from different worksheets while trying to step through the code. I’ve tried various approaches to doing this, but none of them are very effective, and sometimes trash the activity totally (including causing Excel to crash). If you or anyone knows of a straight-forward way to do this, I’d be very interested and thankful.

  • Hi Jon

    Good start for the new year. Love this post and just right on time for the preparation of annual report. Having difficulty sorting tiles though, but I’m confident I’ll get to it.

    Thanks heaps!

    Viney

  • Thanks Jon, I always look forward to your emails. These keyboard tips and work techniques, really help improve my productivity. While most often I have two screens, yet on occasion, I do work on my PC solely and these REALLY come in handy.

  • That was great information..loving the split screen thanks ever so

    Is there a way to split into 4 or is 2 the maximum?

    Your tips are very much appreciated

    Dave

  • Hello Jon,

    This tip will, as you pointed out, facilitate working with VBE/Excel.

    Thank you very much for all your tips.

    Best regards
    Sune

  • Dear Sir, thank you for the very useful and interesting video lesson and very kind of it.

    Once again many thanks

    Jang Bahadur Rana

  • probably one of the most useful and informative video’s i have sat through. many thanks cant wait to view the Alt / Tab

  • Dear Jon:
    I was watching “Tips for Split Screen in Windows & Mac”, and I tried to Split screens, but I couldn´t.
    This is what I did, I moved the mouse to the top of my Excel sheet, then I clicked the left button of my mouse, and I tried to move the window to the left, and when I released the button, the sheet didn´t adjust to the half of the screen, and neither displayed the other screen options.
    Thank you
    Jaime

    • Hi Jaime,
      This should work in Windows 7 or later. You do need to move your mouse cursor all the way to the very left edge of the screen. If you have multiple monitors then you will want to move the mouse to the edge/border, but not over to the other monitor. I hope that helps.

  • Jon,

    I love your videos as they are concise, precise and accurate. keep them coming.

    I have a question about how to highlight rows based on when sorted values change in a column. Do you have a forum or avenue for that? Or can you suggest the proper venue to pose this question?

    Again.. I always look forward to your tips..

    Sudsy

    • Hi Sudsy,

      Thanks for the nice feedback! I believe you are looking for conditional formatting, but would have to see an example. We don’t have a forum yet, but you can submit the question on our contact page and we’ll add it to the queue for a future post/video. As it says on that page, we can’t reply to all questions immediately. I hope that helps. Thanks again! 🙂

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Hello and welcome! My name is Jon Acampora and I'm here to help you learn Excel.

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