Have you ever wanted to see two different web pages at the same time side by side?

Two Firefox browser windows side by side

Two Firefox browser windows side by side

As computer screens have become wider (relative to their height), it has become easier and more useful to see two different windows side by side. This should extend to being able to see two browser windows side by side, probably showing different web pages. You would probably imagine that that is quite easy to achieve (if only you could find the right menu option!)

Well, I can’t find out how to do it in a single step in any of the major browsers (Internet Explorer 11, Chrome or Firefox), but I can manage to do it in two steps and I think it’s worth getting to grips with.

The first step is easy. Open your chosen browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome). This, of course, opens the first window. Then, in any of these three major browsers, hitting Ctrl n (ie depressing the Ctrl key and, while it is down, tapping the letter “n”) will open a new window in that same browser.

The problem is, though, that the new window will be sitting right on top of the first window if the window is maximised (ie, if it is taking up the whole screen) and will be slightly offset from the previous window if the first window was not maximised. However you had the original window, opening a new one won’t put them neatly side by side.

So we now have the job of re-arranging the windows:

If you are using Windows Vista (or even XP) then you are on your own, here. It’s a case of manually dragging windows around and re-sizing them by dragging their edges to the desired positions. If, however, you are using Windows 7 or Windows 8, then you can use the shortcuts that re-size the current window to half the screen size and move the same window to one edge of the screen at the same time.

Windows Key

One version of a “Windows” key

Depress the Windows key and, while it is down, hit the “right” or “cursor right” key (usually marked with “>” or a rightward pointing arrow). The current window will re-size itself so that it takes up the righthand half of the screen. With the Windows key still down, more presses of the “cursor right” key will shift the window to the lefthand half of the screen and then to the original size and position. In other words, repeated presses of the cursor right key cause the window size and position to cycle repeatedly through the three possibilities. In fact, starting with the Windows key and “cursor left” does exactly the same but starts in the left half of the screen – ie it cycles in the opposite direction.

So, clicking the Windows key and right cursor key on the top window will move that window to one side and reveal the window underneath (the first browser window you opened). Just click on this original window to make it the “current” one and then repeat the “windows key and cursor right” action until the window occupies the left half of the screen. You will now have re-sized and re-positioned two independent browser windows side by side.

This all sounds a bit painful and difficult, but it’s much easier to do it than to describe it (once you’ve done it a few times). Also, it is a technique that can be used for positioning many types of windows (not just browser windows) side by side.

Mac Command Key

The Mac Command key

On a Mac, it’s easy enough to open multiple Safari browser windows. Just right-click on the Safari icon in the dock and left click on “New Window”. Alternatively, click on the “file” command on the Safari top menu and click on “New Window”. Even easier, when in Safari, just depress the Command key and tap the”n” key. The “Command” key is the one with the funny symbol as illustrated. As far as I know, there isn’t an easy way to divide a Mac screen into equally-sized windows.

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Computer Support in London
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