XDA Basics: How to split screen on a Chromebook in clamshell or tablet mode

XDA Basics: How to split screen on a Chromebook in clamshell or tablet mode

If you use your laptop for work, multitasking is pretty important. Split screen functionality is one of the nicest features out there to help get things done. Most people are familiar with multitasking gestures on their phone, but you can also use similar gestures to enable split screen on your Chromebook. In fact, there are many ways to enable split screen in Chrome OS. You can take advantage of split screen functionality in clamshell mode, tablet, mode, or tent mode. In this tutorial we’ll look at all the ways you can enable split screen on your Chromebook or other Chrome OS device.

Use split screen on a Chromebook in clamshell mode

Split screen using the touchpad

Split screen on chrome os

In clamshell mode there are a lot of options for using split screen on your Chromebook. Perhaps the simplest method is to use the touchpad and drag windows to either side of your screen. Using the cursor, drag the window you want to align to either side of the screen and release it. This will place the chosen window at 50% size on your desired side of the screen. Repeat the same for the other window on the opposite side and you’re ready to multitask.


Split screen using touch input

Split screen enabled by touch input

If you prefer touch input, you can also enable split screen this way on touchscreen-enabled Chromebooks. To do this, long-press the maximize/minimize button next to the close window button up on the top-right of your window/app top bar and you’ll see an arrow appear on both sides. Simply slide your finger over the side you want to move the window to. This will create a 50% window on your chosen side. You can then repeat this for the opposite side to add another window.

Split screen using keyboard shortcuts

Those that prefer keyboard input for everything will be happy to know there’s a simple keyboard shortcut for split screen as well. To do this, simply use ALT+[ to snap a window to the left side of the screen, or ALT+] to snap a window to the right side of the screen. Both of these shortcuts will place a 50% window on the chosen side.

This is probably the fastest method for multitasking in clamshell mode. If you love keyboard shortcuts for multitasking, check out our full guide to Chrome OS keyboard shortcuts.

Split screen in overview mode

Split screen enabled in overview mode

For a bit fancier approach, in desktop/clamshell mode, you can enter the overview mode (use the shortcut key on the top of your keyboard or use a 3-finger swipe up on the trackpad) and simply drag and drop your mini windows to either side to expand them into split-view.

Resize icon on split screen mode

No matter which method you choose in clamshell mode, you can easily resize the windows. To resize both windows simultaneously, hover the divider between the split-screen windows and a small box will appear beneath your pointer that will allow you to resize. This method shows you a real-time preview of exactly what the split screen will look like when you finish.

Use split screen on a Chromebook in tablet/tent mode

To effectively navigate split screen in tablet or tent mode, you need to comfortably move between full-screen and overview mode. Simply swipe up and hold from the bottom to trigger overview mode. At this point you can either continue the gesture to snap your most recent app to one side of the screen, or select a new app from the overview screen.

After you have one side covered, the other side of your screen will show you other available windows and you can easily select one of them to take up the other half of your screen. If the app you want to use isn’t already open or on the shelf, then you’ll need to open the app and restart this process.

Split screen in tablet mode

In tablet mode you can also resize your split screen apps, but you don’t have full control over the sizing like in clamshell mode. To resize in tablet mode, touch the divider bar and pause for just a second until you see the bar become slightly wider. After you see this animation, drag the bar to divide the screen into a one-quarter/three-quarter layout or half-and-half. These sizing options are more limited, but they tend to work pretty well for most tablet applications on a Chromebook.

Split screen mode is easy to enable on your Chromebook. There are a number of ways to accomplish split screen view, from keyboard shortcuts to touch input. If you’re still setting up a new Chromebook, don’t miss our full Chrome OS setting guide for more tips.

About author

Jeff Springer
Jeff Springer

Applied mathematician with a love for Android. I am interested in inverse problems for imaging and integration with camera software for mobile phones.

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