Last year I came across a very Mac-like app which splits the Mac’s screen in half. No, not the physical screen. The apps on the screen take up half the screen. The app, cleverly named Split Screen, resizes app windows to fit exactly half of the Mac’s screen.
The value of screen splitting in half is obvious. Two app windows sit together, side-by-side, so it’s easy to read from one browser page while writing in another app. Or, simply to copy and paste from one window to the next. What could be better?
Split Screen could not be much easier to use. It lives in the Mac’s Menubar so it’s always a click away. Open a browser window, click on the Full Screen icon, and select left or right, and the app window slaps into place. Split Screen is missing a few useful features, such as splitting a screen into thirds, or quarters, or other sizes, but it is fast and simple and affordable.
What’s not to like? Click the Menubar, split the screen.
Well, about 90-minutes after I bought Split Screen it gave birth to a big brother, cleverly entitled, Split Screen Pro. More features, much larger price tag.
This new version provides additional app screen management options. App windows can still be shrunk left or right, but also up and down, and moved to quadrants– top left and right, bottom left and right. Nice, right? What’s the upgrade price? Uh, there isn’t one. That’s the nature of the Mac App Store.
Oh well, I love the idea of managing app windows in quadrants and Split Screen Pro does that for merely double the price of the original. So, as I was browsing around I noticed a nifty comparison of Split Screen vs. OS X El Capitan’s split screen and how it compares with Split Screen Ultimate.
Yes, there’s a third option to split the Mac’s screen, and it’s one notch above the Pro version. Even compared to the base level Split Screen, which I have and used, El Capitan’s Split Screen isn’t as useful, but the Ultimate version has almost everything you could think of to split a screen– even into thirds, if you want– including dual screen support, drag and snap, and a bunch of useful keyboard shortcuts.
All that professionalism comes at a price, of course, and Ultimate is about three times what I paid for basic screen splitting. Then I remember my colleague, Jack Miller, at Mac360 and his review of Magnet which also splits the Mac’s screens with all kinds of features.
For less money than I spent on the original Split Screen I could split the screen all over the place. By half, by quarters, and even easier because the perfectly named Magnet acts like a magnet stuck to the edge of the Mac’s screen. Drag an app window to the edge and it sticks. I didn’t even have to go Pro or Ultimate to get a better way to manage app windows and split screens. It handles multiple displays, works on El Capitan, and knows the difference between a regular display and a Retina display. The only negative I’ve run into is a propensity for Magnet to take an app window I’m dragging and launch it into fullscreen mode (my bad, I’m a clumsy dragger with big man hands).
Sometimes good things come in small packages with smaller prices.