Mission Control and Split View

Mission Control gets a makeover with El Capitan. It is now easier than ever to use multiple desktops and full screen apps. A new feature of El Capitan is the ability to split a screen between two apps. Learn how to use Mission Control to become more productive.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Mission Control and Split View.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. On today's episode let's take a look at Mission Control and the new split view in Mac OS 10, El Capitan.

Mission Control has been improved in El Capitan. It seems like every version of OS 10 we get a little bit of an improvement in Mission Control. I'm demonstrating here on a MacBook which is a great example because in MacBook you kind of got limited screen space and if you've got a lot of apps running, you can see all the different apps that are open right now, it is tough to be productive with all these windows on top of each other.

I'm going to launch Mission Control. I can do that with the F3 key or you may need to use the fn key in addition to the F3 key or I can do Control and Up arrow. It takes me into Mission Control. You can see it is a simplified interface with a few changes here.

One is you've got just the word Desktop at the top instead of a miniature representation of the actual screen. You've got a Plus button to the right to add another desktop and you've got the windows. Now this is subtle. But the windows are arranged closer to where they actually are on the screen. So if I was actually using Safari on the right side of the screen and Pages on the left it would show them on the right and on the left whereas before it kind of mixed it up a little bit.

Now I can use this as a simple way to switch between apps and bring the window I want to the front. So if I want to look at Calendar I can do that. I can go to Mission Control and I can bring Pages up and do that. But I can also have multiple desktops.

So let me do it, I can do it by hitting the Plus button here. As I move my cursor over here I can see what my desktop looks like. Now I have this Plus button and I'll add another desktop and it is called Desktop 2. I could just drag things to it.

So let's say I want to put Pages here in Desktop 2 you can see how easy that was. I can say put Reminders there in that same desktop. Now I can click on that desktop to go to it. Then I can go into Mission Control and select the other desktop. Or I can use the handy shortcuts of using the Control key and the right and left arrow keys to go quickly between multiple desktops.

Now it is easy to move things around inside of Mission Control. I'll go into it here and I can use Control and the right and left arrows to move between the desktops. Then I can just drag things. So I can drag Reminders over to this desktop for instance. I can also get rid of desktops by hitting the X here and then it would throw everything onto the desktop that makes the most sense.

I can also use this for full screen apps. So, for instance, let's go into Desktop 1 here and let's say I want to go to let's just stick with Calendar and take that full screen. So I use the green button here to go full screen and now if I go into Mission Control I'll see that Calendar appears as its own desktop. In fact it is in the proper order here. If I were to go into Calendar, Control, left arrow it goes to that desktop. Control right arrow goes to this desktop. So it kind of makes sense within the scheme of things.

So a full screen app will simply be another desktop here. If I close it you can see this destroys this desktop but this will simply take that out of full screen and it will go back to the desktop where it was before. So it makes it very easy to take something full screen temporarily and then go back out.

Now the new feature for El Capitan is the split screen mode. Split screen mode is very similar to full screen mode but allows you to have two apps instead of one. Let's start out with Calendars. This is how you activate split screen mode.

Go to the green button that would normally change to full screen but instead of just a simple click I'm going to press and hold down on the track pad and you can see that then that app pops to the front and I get this blue area to the left or this blue area to the right depending upon where I roll over. So I'm going to drop it in one of these places and as I do that I get this Mission Control view on the other side. I can select what I want here.

So I'm going to select Safari. Now I've got split screen mode. If I go to Mission Control I see that I've got Desktop 1 and Desktop 2 as before but I've got, instead of full screen, I've got Calendar and Safari right here. I can even drag this line here a little bit to the right to give more room to the app on the left and less on the right. So I don't have to be perfectly split 50 50. You can adjust it a little bit.

Now I can get out of split screen mode by just moving my cursor to the top. Now I can use one of these green buttons to pop one of these apps back to a regular window leaving the other one to take over this entire desktop. Or if I want to just go into Mission Control I can actually close both of these at once by using this button right here. Now it puts those apps back on the desktops where they belong.

So here are some other tips when dealing with Mission Control. You can do some more dragging. If I wanted to take something full screen, like iBooks here, I can actually drag it to the top and create a desktop space for it and it would just be full screen in that space.

In addition you can roll over your cursor here and hit the spacebar to enlarge any of these windows. That really helps if you are trying to figure out what it is you are looking at. Also you can rearrange the desktops up here or the full screen apps for that matter just by dragging and dropping them around. So that is very handy when you are using Control left and right arrows to move between things when doing projects. You have that ability to kind of control where things are and which desktops and apps are next to each other.

Comments: 15 Responses to “Mission Control and Split View”

    Tripp Frohlichstein
    4 years ago

    Is there a way to have the same app open in multiple desktops-such as notes?
    So one desktop might have Calendar and notes and the other might have Word and Notes?

      4 years ago

      Definitely. The Notes app lets you open multiple windows — just double-click on the note in the left sidebar to pop it out as a window. Then use Mission Control to put one window on one desktop and one window on the other.
      Or, if you mean you want a single Notes window (the main one, for instance) shown on more than one desktop at the same time, then Control+click Notes on the Dock and select Options, Assign To: All Desktops.

    Bob Riley
    4 years ago

    Very timely, Gary. I just upgraded to El Capitan and was about to look around and play with Mission Control and Split Screen. Thank you for the always helpful heads-up.

    Brian Neely
    4 years ago

    Excellent and long overdue

    John Stires
    4 years ago

    I’ve use this and find it ruins whatever order my windows were in in the 1st place. For example, I keep Mail in my 1st window, Firefox in Window 2, Photoshop in 3, Bridge in 4, and so on. Once I select split screen all bets are off, the sort order is in chaos. The fourth window could be labeled Window 2. I’ve tried to make repeatable moves without success, it just seems chaotic… which makes it not worth fooling with. I typically keep 6 windows open and it’s easy to swipe to get to them. MBP

      4 years ago

      It is useful to think of Split View as the same as Full Screen, but with two apps instead of one. Definitely go with multiple desktops if you want the most control over where everything is exactly.

    4 years ago

    When I open Mission Control, I have Dashboard on the top bar in addition to Desktop. Is this normal? You don’t have Dashboard in your video.

      4 years ago

      Dashboard is now off by default. You can turn it on in System Preferences, Mission Control. Sounds like you just have it on, while I have it set to the default.

    Bill Toney
    4 years ago

    Another great instruction video – Thank you.
    Are there some apps the split screen won’t work with? For example: Quicken and Excel. For some reason I can’t seem to make them work in split screen.

      4 years ago

      Yes, probably. I’m sure they need to be built with all the latest developer libraries. There will always be some third-party apps that don’t play the same rules. Many games, for instance, don’t even run in a traditional “window” at all.

    4 years ago

    Gary, thanks ever so much for this. Took days to download ElCap, an hour to install and your 5 min video actually made it worthwhile and VERY easy to use.
    2015OC07 16:30 Sydney Australia

    4 years ago

    Hi Gary,
    On my 13″ MBP, I cannot figure out how to get Keynote and Pages – my most often used combination of two apps running simultaneously – to come up with the screen spilt down the center. Once I choose either one to go to split view, all I get is “Not available in full screen” on the other.
    Thanks, Jörg

      4 years ago

      Keynote doesn’t work in Split View. Makes sense since it is a presentation tool that is meant to take over the full screen. They could have made it where you could edit your presentation in Split View, but then it would get confusing and complicated when you try to play your presentation. The real bug here is that it shouldn’t even let you try to go into Split View starting with Keynote.
      Pages, on the other hand works find in Split View with other apps.

        4 years ago

        As a teacher, I write daily lesson plans. I take those plans and then use Keynote as the visual instruction aid in class. While I agree that Keynote looks best in full screen mode, for my workflow in developing presentations and plans, I need at least those two apps open at the same time and normally, Safari needs to be running as well. Seems to me, Apple should really give us a choice which apps we need to work in split view. As is, I won’t have much use for it.

          4 years ago

          Hurray! The latest update for Keynote and Pages now makes it possible to use the two apps for editing in split view.
          Naturally, I am taking full credit…

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