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.
Note: Is Snap Assist refusing to work or acting strangely? Check your startup programs, the apps that automatically launch when you log into Windows. Sometimes these can interfere with Snap Assist, and disabling them will fix the problem. Our guide on managing startup programs is a great place to start.
Use the keyboard shortcut
Want a faster way to do this on your keyboard? There is a shortcut to split windows that is 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.
If you want to expand a window to the full screen again, just press the Windows key and the Up arrow key together. If you accidentally make a quarter window instead of a half window, you can use the Windows and Up or Down arrow keys to expand it as well.
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.
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
We’ll be the first to point out that the native Windows 10 option is impressive; however, there are a variety of third-party apps that give you a bit more. With these apps, you can enjoy more definitive, grid-like changes to your windows so you can obtain all the tools you love so much (in the perfect size) and place them wherever you desire. Our recommendation is AquaSnap.
AquaSnap lets its users develop and change as many split windows as necessary with a neat snap function that operates similarly to Windows 10. That being said, it’s slightly more flexible and consists of a few cool, extra tools such as snapping small windows together and other sweet gimmicks.
You can download and start using the Personal version of AquaSnap for free. With it, you’ll have access to basic features like docking, snapping, stretching, various keyboard shortcuts, and a whole lot more. If you’re ready to step it up, you can opt for the Professional edition, which comes in two different versions: Standard and Site. You can pay $18 for the Standard version and $600 for the Site version. These special editions allow you to acquire licenses, add convenient mouse shortcuts, benefit from multi-monitor support, and relish three other premium features.