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How to enter and exit full screen on a Mac

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6 min read

No matter what size screen your Mac has, knowing how to get into and out of full screen mode for your apps is essential. Even with the largest external monitors, we often find ourselves putting apps in full screen on Mac to stay more focused on a task at hand. 

Here, we’ll show you how to enter full screen mode, how to exit full screen, and showcase some apps that can help you make the most out of full screen mode. 

When to use a full screen shortcut? 

Anytime! Definitely every time you watch Netflix. Also, when you’re working, sometimes. Here are a few examples of when full screen might be useful: 

  • Focused attention. Having a bunch of apps open on one desktop can be confusing. Placing the ones you need most in full screen mode allows you to focus, and swiping between desktops is better than pinching to get to your control center, then finding the app you need.
  • Side-by-side productivity. You can use two apps in full screen mode on one display, allowing you to compare data points or do things like drag and drop images from one app to another with ease.
  • Editing photos. If you’re getting granular with photo editing, you should consider full screen mode on your Mac. You get far more screen real estate in full screen, allowing you to hone in on small details, and see your edits on a larger screen.
  • Multitasking on multiple screens. Those with multiple monitor setups also love full screen mode for Mac! It allows you to have a dedicated space for each app, or apps, and have multiple full-screen or half screen apps in view. If you use an app like Mosaic or Swish, you can get even more control over your desktop setup and full screen apps.

Tip: If you don’t want to enter full screen every time you need to focus, install HazeOver. It dims background distractions, directing all your attention to one window.

haze over

How to go full screen on a Mac

There are a few ways to go full screen for Mac apps:

  • In an app’s window, click the green button on the top left
  • While using an app, press Command + Control + F (on Big Sur and earlier) or Fn + F if your Mac is running macOS Monterey or later  
  • In the app’s menu, select “View,” then choose “Enter Full Screen” from the drop-down menu. 

full screen mac

In macOS Monterey, there’s also a great feature that lets you tile windows, so you can view two apps in full screen fat the same time: 

  1. Hover over the green icon on the top left of your window
  2. Choose Tile Window to Left/Right
  3. Once that window is tiled, click the window you’d like to put on the other side of the screen. 

enter full screen mac

If you want to split your screen into more than two workspaces and customize your window layouts as you wish, grab Mosaic

The Mosaic app for Mac allows you full customization on how you put apps in full screen mode, and how to arrange your screen if you want apps to share full screen mode on your Mac. You can even define the precise area you want an app to occupy on your screen!

All you have to do is drag an app window and Mosaic will trigger the layout options. Drop your window on a layout — and that’s it! The app also has user-defined keyboard shortcuts for all settings, including grids you set up. Mosaic works with multiple monitors, and even an iPad you have connected to your desktop. 

How to switch apps in full screen mode 

If you’re viewing a window in full screen but then want to move to a different window, simply swipe right or left on your Trackpad with three or four fingers. You can always customize your Trackpad gestures (and not just Trackpad, any input device!) using BetterTouchTool

If BetterTouchTool feels a bit too confusing, try Trackpad automation with Swish. 

Swish is fully focused on gestures. The app has 28 built-in gestures you can take advantage of for managing full screen mode on Mac. There are some super clever features like pinching an app to quit, swiping down to minimize, and pinching away from the center of your trackpad to go full screen. The app also works with multiple monitors.

swish mac

If you’re more prone to swipe around your screen than use keyboard shortcuts or a full screen hotkey, Swish is for you. 

How to exit full screen on a Mac

The method to exit full screen Mac is also simple. If you’re asking yourself “how do i get out of fullscreen mode?” here’s are your options — and they’re mostly the same as entering full screen:

  • In an app’s window, click the green button on the top left
  • While using an app, press Command + Control + F (on Big Sur and earlier) or Fn + F if your Mac is running macOS Monterey or later  
  • In the app’s menu, select “View,” then choose “Exit Full Screen” from the drop-down menu. 

Now you know how to get out of full screen Mac mode! Keep in mind if you need to know how to minimize screen on Mac computers, you can’t do it from full screen. The option to minimize disappears, as your Mac considers a full screen app as its own desktop. 

Enhance Mac window management with Setapp

Full screen mode for Mac is amazing, and we suggest everyone give it a shot. It will make you more productive, and most apps are just better in full screen mode.

Swish, BetterTouchTool, and Mosaic can help you take more control of your Mac’s display options, including full screen, and using them will leave you wondering why they aren’t built into macOS! Best of all, these apps are available for free during a seven day trial of Setapp, the world’s largest and most complete suite of Mac and iPhone apps. 

When your trial ends, continued unlimited access to Setapp is only $9.99 per month. It’s a sensational offer, so why wait? Give Setapp a shot today!

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