A Beginner’s Guide to Resizing Mac Windows

You can resize a window in the Finder and almost any app by clicking and dragging on the edges or corners of a window. You can use the Option key to drag opposite sides or all sides at once. The sides of a window will stop at the edges of the screen. You can also double-click a corner or edge to move that side to the edge of the screen or fill the entire screen without going into full screen mode.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Beginner’s Guide to Resizing Mac Windows.

If you're fairly new to Mac you may not know all the different ways that you can adjust a window size. Here I've got a Finder window. Now this could be a window in another app as well. It could be a Safari window, at could be a Pages window, anything. They all work the same. Basically to move a window around you click and drag in the title bar. Anywhere where there's not a button or other element and you can drag is around and as long as you hold down the mouse or trackpad and drag.

But to adjust the size what you want to do is click and drag on any edge or any corner. So, for instance, I can click on the right edge here. You can see the cursor changes to this arrow here, a left and right arrow, showing that I can click and drag and adjust this edge. So clicking and dragging I can move the right edge there. I can do it with the bottom edge, the left edge, the top edge. Now I can't go beyond the edges of the window. So if I drag up it will lock into place right there at the top. The same thing with the left side, right side, or bottom. So it's easy to kind of slam the edge against the side of your screen to maximize that size in that direction.

You can do the same thing with the corners. So if I grab the bottom right corner it's going to adjust the right side and the bottom at the same time. You can do that with any of the four corners and it will slam the edges against the side right there if you just drag beyond them.

Now the Option key or Alt key will allow you to adjust opposite edges at the same time. So, for instance, if I use the Option key and click and drag the right edge, both the left and the right edge move. The left edge will stop when it gets to the edge. The same thing with top and bottom. It will adjust both the top and bottom. The top will stop when it gets to the edge as will the bottom if that reaches the edge first. If you do this with a corner, of course, it's going to do the opposite corner which means all four edges will move. So I can expand the entire size of the window by Option and dragging any corner to change the size.

Now let's say you want to make this window as large as possible. Fill the screen. You may be frustrated by this if you're new to Mac because if you press this green button you would think that's what it would do. But it actually goes into full screen mode which is a whole different thing. It creates a new desktop just for this app and gets rid of the Menu Bar and gets rid of the Dock. Let's say you don't want to do that. You want to keep other windows behind this window. You don't want to get rid of the Menu Bar and the Dock. But you want this to fill the entire space. Well, you may think Option and then the green button. But that actually doesn't do it either. That actually will expand the window to it's logical maximum size. In other words how big it needs to be to contain everything that's in there. Which isn't going to be full screen in most cases.

If you really want the window to go full screen, just as if you dragged the corners to the corners of your screen, what you want to do is hold the Option key down and double click any corner and it expands to the full size. So then you can just drag it back in. That's the easy way to actually get it to go full screen without actually going into full screen mode. Without the Option key you can actually double click on any edge and it will go to the end of the screen. So if I double click on the upper left hand corner you can see the top and the left go to the edge of the screen. If I just double click on the left side, the left side goes to the edge of the screen like that. So it's fairly easy to make it go, say, to both sides of the screen by Option and then double clicking on the right side will actually go to the left side and the right side to fill the screen.

Comments: 4 Responses to “A Beginner’s Guide to Resizing Mac Windows”

    1 year ago

    Wow! I’ve used Mac’s exclusively since 96 and didn’t know about a few of these. Thanks!

    1 year ago

    Thanks for this lesson. Loved the option key and the double click

    bill braun
    1 year ago

    Me – I have been using a Mac since 1984 and am still learning new things like double click option corners. Brilliant!

    1 year ago

    There’s another way to resize Mac windows. When you take the cursor to the edge just use three fingers to expand the window.

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