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How To Split Screen On Windows 8 Laptop, Desktop Without Tools

Some years ago, I wrote a short article about splitting the screen on Windows 7 using AeroSnap. That article is outdated and Windows 8 comes with some great features that allow you to multi-task more effectively.

Split-Screen: Native App And Desktop

First we will take a look at the built-in solution for native Windows 8 apps and then we’ll take a closer look at virtualization and virtual desktops.

1. Step Click the Windows 8 Start button

2. Step Open a native app. For this example, I picked the “News” and “Maps” app:

Open Native Windows 8 Apps.png

3. Step Once opened, move the mouse to the top border, click on it and hold it. It should minimfy the app preview

Dragging Top Border

4. Step Now move the mouse to the very right of your screen and a middle bar will pop up:

Move Tile To Right

5. Step Drag it to the very right and release it (stop holding)

6. Step If you would like to split the native app and the real desktop, press the Windows key + D at the same time and you will get something like this now:

Split Screen Metro And Desktop

Split-Screen Native vs Native

Of course you can not only create a split-screen for a native app and the desktop but for two native apps.

Simply open a new native app from the Start screen and it will open the app in a “middle tile” which you can then drag and drop to replace the app on the left or right.

Split Screen Middle Tile

Wait, How Do I Levave The Split-Screen Mode?

The split-screen mode is great, but if you want to expand one half again, simply drag the 3-dotted border to the very right or very left, depending on which app you want to expand. If you want to expand the right half, drag to the right and if you want to expand the screen on the left, drag the border to the left. Simple as that.

Virtualization And Virtual Desktops

There are other ways to manage your desktops and quickly switch between apps. There are a multitude of programs available that allow you to mount an entire operating system and jump right into it. Examples includes VirtualPC, VirtualBox, WMware workstation, QEMU, Paralells Desktop, VMWare Fusion and others.

Open-Source: A popular tool for virtual desktops is VirtualWin, which is free and can be downloaded at http://virtuawin.sourceforge.net/

When Should I Use The Improved Split-Screen Feature?

Split-screens are a great way to work on multiple things, but in a real life scenario multi-monitor setups are far more effective and most companies these days will have workspaces with two or even three screens. In short, if you can afford it, go for a real split-screen solution rather than trying to mess with snapping tools.

If you are on a budget, don’t feel the need for a 2nd monitor or simply want to do this for education purposes follow this guide.

Conclusion

The improved Windows 8 split screen features are a great addition, but cannot compete with virtualization or a 2nd monitor. However, if you are travelling and dont have the virtual real estate needed this may come in handy at times.

In what situations would you consider using it? Let us know in the comments.

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Published: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 Last Modified: June 3, 2015

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