7 Window Management Tips for Multitasking on a Mac

If you’re a Mac user, you know that one of the things that sets Apple’s computers apart from the competition is their ability to handle multiple tasks with ease.

Whether you’re a designer working on a large project, a student researching a paper, or just someone who likes to keep multiple windows open at once, your Mac has a wealth of options for managing windows and multitasking. Here are seven you should know about.

1. Split View

Use Split View to work with two windows side by side in full-screen mode. To enter Split View, click and hold the green full-screen button in the top-left corner of a window, then choose to dock the app on the left or right of your screen.

Then, repeat this process with another app to fill the other half of the screen. Some apps, like Safari and Notes, work really well together in Split View, but you can experiment with what works best for you.

Split View is an adequate option for basic window management on a Mac, but third-party apps like Rectangle or Mosaic (free with Setapp) are more flexible and offer more options.

How to enter Split View: screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

2. Keyboard Shortcuts

A popular way to use and move between multiple apps on a Mac is to use keyboard shortcuts. Not everyone is great at committing these to memory, but if you find one you like, it can certainly speed up your workflow.

For example, you can use Command + Tab to cycle through open applications and Command + Tilde to do the same in reverse. This is a fast and easy way to navigate between open apps.

Option + Command + M will minimize all windows of the current application, and Control + Command + F will toggle full-screen mode.

3. App Exposé

If you want to see all the open windows for just the current app you are using, you can use App Exposé. This can be a good way to focus your attention on one app, versus the windows you have open for other apps.

App Exposé is a trackpad gesture. You can set it up in System Settings > Trackpad. It is either a swipe down with three or four fingers. You can also use Control + Down Arrow to bring up App Exposé.

If you have three Chrome windows open, activating App Exposé will show just those three windows and let you pick the one you want to work on.

The Microsoft Edge windows in App Exposé: screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

4. Mission Control

Mission Control takes this idea a step further. It lets you see all open windows for all of your apps. Then, you can click on the window that you would like to work with.

You can access Mission Control by swiping up with three or four fingers on your trackpad, pressing Control + Up Arrow on your keyboard, or clicking the Mission Control icon in the Dock.

Mission Control screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

5. Spaces

Spaces are virtual desktops that you can use to organize your open windows. You can switch from one space to another to access the windows you need.

Spaces can be a useful way to group your apps together by type. In one space, you might have Safari and Notes as a Split View pair. In another space, you could have an Excel spreadsheet, and in a third space, you could have Slack, Facebook, and Twitter.

You can set up Spaces in Mission Control, and move between them by selecting a space in Mission Control, or by swiping left or right on your trackpad with three fingers.

6. Stage Manager

Then there is Stage Manager. This is Apple’s latest attempt at window management on the Mac. It is similar to spaces, but everything happens in one desktop area.

Stage Manager shows the app you are using in the middle of your screen. The other apps you have open appear as live thumbnails on the left side of the screen.

With Stage Manager, you can group apps together on the left side of the screen so that you can quickly bring all of those apps to the center of your workspace. Windows can be moved from one group to another as needed.

You can activate Stage Manager from the Mac’s Control Center.

Stage Manager can be activated from Control Center: screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

7. Show Desktop

Sometimes, you just need a quick way to get to your desktop or to hide all the apps that you are working on.

Multiple windows make that hard, but if you put your thumb and three fingers on your trackpad and spread them apart, you can temporarily clear all open windows and show your desktop.

Your apps are still open, they are just pushed to the edges of your screen. You can bring them back to their previous position by making the same gesture in reverse.

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