Maximizing Windows On a Mac

It can take several steps to force a window on a Mac to cover the entire screen without using full screen mode. However, this one trick can get you there in a single step.

Video Transcript
One frustration a lot of Mac users have is how do you get to have an app go full screen but not full screen as in a different desktop and spaces. But just fill all the available space. You've got this green button here which if you just click it normally it puts everything full screen. The menu bar goes away, the dots goes away and your actually in a separate desktop space. I can use Control Up to go into Mission Control and you can see I've got my desktop here and now Pages is a separate desktop. That's not what I want. So you can use the green button here to go back to it.

You can Option click the green button and you can see it changes to a plus and it will expand the window to maximum size. Notice it went vertically top and bottom and expanded a little bit on the sides. But it didn't fill the space on the screen. Why? Well, it filled the maximum amount of space used by this page. There is no extra space here at the end. If I actually manually dragged this over, you can see there's just blank here. So by using the plus button what it actually was doing was expanding it to be the largest size it needed to be. But what if I wanted it to be the entire thing?

Well, you could just drag the edges of the screen. Drag it all the way out. Drag this one all the way out. If it wasn't all the way at the bottom already I could drag it down there. The same thing with the top. Or I can even use the corners. Here I am I can go and drag the corners. This corner out this way and this corner out that way.

Then there is some interesting other things that you can do. Like you can Option drag and it drags both ends. So I can drag both ends there and drag both ends there. You can see I can't quite get the bottom to go there because there wasn't enough space. So that's kind of frustrating. You can even do that with the corners. Drag this corner with Option and it expands everything and you can often get what you need that way.

But if I'm limited by the amount of stretching like in the upper left hand corner here I have to do the lower right corner separately. So it's really frustrating. It would be nice if there was one quick way just to get it to fill all of the available space. It turns out there is.

You see if you double click on an edge look what happens. I'm going to double click on the right edge here it expands to go all the way to the right side. Okay so I can do that with all four sides, right? Well, that's still a little too much. But if I double click on a corner look what happens. It expands that corner to go all the way down. So now I'm down to the part where I can expand that corner and double click to expand this corner and I'm set. But you can combine that with the Option key. Remember the Option key when I was dragging expanded both sides.

What happens if I double click a side with the Option key down. It expands both sides to fill the space. So now, as you can probably guess, if I were to double click a corner with the Option key down I get the entire window filling the entire space. I can double click any corner I want. So you've got four different spots that you can click on. You can even consider here you've got your, you know, red, yellow, and green buttons there. But you've got another button here that's the corner. You can see when you've rolled over it because the cursor changes to this diagonal arrow. But you can choose another one if you feel a little more comfortable choosing one that just doesn't have any other buttons or anything near it.

Option, double click, the window fills the entire space.

Comments: 15 Responses to “Maximizing Windows On a Mac”

    3/30/17 @ 9:49 am

    I could have sworn you taught me how to double click the area at the very top of a window to get it to fully expand.

    3/30/17 @ 10:11 am

    Brad: Double-clicking the title bar will do the same thing as Option+clicking the green button. It expands to the largest size needed by the app. Which in many cases isn’t full screen as the app doesn’t “need” every inch. But the method in this video is the equivalent to stretching the window manually to full screen. Open a new document in Pages and try each one to see a simple example of how they differ.

    3/30/17 @ 11:27 am

    Hi Gary,

    I use an application called Better Snap Tool which is very useful to manage windows. Drag a window to the top to make it full screen, or to the side to fill half the screen. It has many customizable options.

    3/31/17 @ 9:54 am

    Hi Gary!
    Thanks for this but with the end results, how do you get it back to normal?

    3/31/17 @ 9:57 am

    Robert: Not sure what you mean. When you do this, you end up with a window that is to the edges of the screen. But there’s nothing not normal about it. It isn’t a different mode or anything. You can drag the corners back to any window size you want. Or, try Option+clicking on the green button at the top left will take it to an optimized size.

    Bert Mullemeister
    4/1/17 @ 2:18 am

    Hi Gary, thanks for your fabulous videos , however the Maximising Windows does not work on my 5K IMac with El Captain

    4/1/17 @ 6:02 am

    Bert: Yes, you’ll need Sierra.

    4/1/17 @ 7:20 am

    Thanks, Gary! Option+clicking on the green button works fine.

    4/2/17 @ 6:07 am

    Thanks! I think I got it. BTW I used to be able to set page sizes with javascript from the address bar: javascript:window.resizeTo(662,900);window.moveTo(25,0)
    but now get no response at all. I read about some changes to that capability but am wondering if you know what’s up.

    4/2/17 @ 7:08 am

    brad: I’m pretty sure window.resizeTo doesn’t work unless JavaScript created the window in the first place. A security precaution.

    4/2/17 @ 10:32 am

    Thanks Gary-
    I have/had bookmarks for different screen sizes & they worked great until they didn’t. :)

    4/5/17 @ 4:17 pm

    Hi Gary,
    Thanks for your informative tips (as always). I’m using the windows manager app Moom for ages (no shares), and it works like a charm .. It costs about USD $ 10,- and it’s definitely worth the money .. Easy resizing via the green button and/or keyboard shortcuts that you can configure to your liking.

    Adam Snyder
    4/5/17 @ 7:16 pm

    Thanks for the video, being a Windows user at work all day and then using my Macs at home I deal with this frustration quite often. However when I hold my Option key down, I don’t get the same results as you do in the video. Can you fill me in on what I should have my option key doing? Settings, etc.? Mine appears to show all open windows, and then do nothing afterwords??

    4/5/17 @ 7:21 pm

    Adam: Not sure what you mean. I am just holding the option key when I double-click the corner. What do you mean by “show all open windows?”

    Charles Reich
    4/7/17 @ 9:42 am

    Hi Gary -I found another way to maximize an item in my finder to full screen for my presentation purposes. Normally I would click on a pdf or png icon and click the green button to expand full size. But I wanted them to expand full size when I clicked the icon without the extra green button step. I discovered that if I opened an item to full size and then clicked the Cmd > Q button to quit, the next time I clicked the icon to open it automatically opened to full size with the single click.

Comments Closed.