There is a question that deals with the different behaviour of the fullscreen button in the window bar. There, it is shown that by doing:

+ + Click on green or outer right icon (plus icon)

I can maximize a window in both width and height to the current screen.

Now I am wondering if I can make this behaviour standard just by clicking the icon. For an extra bonus, I wonder if there is a keyboard shortcut to achieve the same thing.

  • 2
    I wonder this as well... as of yet I've not found a way to do this.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 17:37
  • 10
    Just a heads up, Alt + Click does the equivalent of your Alt + Shift + Click so think the Shift key doesn't need to be pressed? Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 15:53
  • 7
    @JaiGovindani It's true that not all application behave the same. For most, it seems Alt + Click is enough; yet there are some exception like Google Chrome. There, Alt Click only expands in height but not in width.
    – k0pernikus
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 13:19
  • 2
    Apple made a bad choice (a long time ago) that really needs to be rectified. Maybe they figure everyone wants to use the kybd and work within conceptual "spaces" (on full screen apps?) but then, why not add a shortcut for full screen/ minimize and moreover, why not just bring back spaces? Now we pretty much have to CMD+TAB to switch between apps. and there's no accessible option for maximizing the window or even going to full screen unless we download some questionable third party app. smh.
    – Shanimal
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 17:19
  • 4
    In Mac OS Sierra you can also double click on the window corner(s) to automatically expand them to maximum size, I hope this helps. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 14:40

10 Answers 10


Spectacle has been discontinued. They recommend using Rectangle.

Use spectacle, a free open source app that has a bunch of handy window management shortcuts.

While it doesn't change the default behavior of the green button, it makes it superfluous for me to do so as I can do everything using keyboard shortcuts without using the mouse.

For full screen, press:

cmd + option + F

It also has a bunch of options for 1/2 screen, 1/3 screen, top half, bottom half, etc.

List of all the available options for spectacle to modify the windows

  • 2
    Nice find. Spectacle makes me especially happy for also providing the split or snap window feature known from Windows 7.
    – k0pernikus
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 13:30
  • 1
    Nice find indeed, but sadly "Full Screen" maximizes the window like Microsoft Windows would: using almost all screen estate, not using an optimized width and height. (It's indeed what the question asker wanted, and still better than OS X full screen. But I don't want my browsers to use the full screen width; I like the Option-click behavior of the zoom-icon much better, which makes sane applications choose a width that is optimal for its current content. But @k0pernikus is right: the split and snap features are nice.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 11:06
  • 3
    But it doesn't change the green button behaviour (like RightZoom did before Yosemite), right?
    – chesterbr
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 15:31
  • 1
    And the Mac does a lot of things out of the box that Windows needs 3rd parts apps for. They are different.
    – Gray
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 20:57
  • 1
    I've managed to speed up Spectacle use by making full screen Ctrl-Opt-Cmd-Up (otherwise unused). This means not you don't have to do any awkward reaching when using the otherwise excellent keyboard shortcuts (left-half, right-half, second-monitor, top-half, bottom-half). Commented May 31, 2016 at 2:15

I found that BetterTouchTool solves this problem nicely (Note: BetterTouchTool is no longer free, the trial expires after 45 days). The Preferences aren't quite intuitive:

  • Select "Other" category at the top of the window.
  • Make sure that "Global" is selected at the left side.
  • Click "Configure New Trigger" button in the bottom part of the window.
  • Select "Leftclick Green Window Button" as trigger.
  • Select "Zoom Window Below Cursor" as predefined action.
  • Enjoy!


BetterTouchTool also allows defining a keyboard shortcut for this action (under "Keyboard"). However, the action will still be "Zoom Window Below Cursor" then - it will zoom whichever window your mouse cursor happens to be on, not the currently active window. So this isn't as helpful as it could be unfortunately.

  • 3
    I'm sure I would not have found this setting without your help. And indeed this perfectly restores the pre-Yosemite behavior. (So: for sane applications not boldly maximizing both height and width, but zooming to the best fit. Like for Chrome, often: maximum height and some optimal width that does not use my full screen). Nice find. Annoying full screen be gone! :-)
    – Arjan
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 11:18
  • 4
    Thanks very much. This helped me a lot. However if you want to maximize the screen, the action "Maximize Window" instead of "Zoom Window Below Cursor" might be a better choice. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 7:26
  • It's better to tie it to "Option+Click" instead.
    – Grocery
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 18:10
  • @Grocery: Sure, if you use both functions - that's not what was asked in this question however ;) Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 18:35
  • 1
    Ah! That's better. Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 5:44

You can go to System Preferences -> Dock uncheck "Double-click a window's title bar to minimize" and then, when you double click on the title bar in a window, it will maximize the window without going into full screen mode.

I find it easier than having to hold down the option key and clicking on the green button.

  • 7
    Doesn't actually maximize in the windows sense. It just resizes to a different annoying size. Damn apple.
    – benvolioT
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 17:29
  • It depends on the app. For most apps, it works just fine. For Chrome and Safari it doesn't maximize, unless you hold down shift!
    – nevster
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 3:08
  • @benvolioT use alt/option + shift and click on green button. quite annoying but does what your expect. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 4:21
  • 1
    It's not a question of which app, but of scrollbars. If the window has an horizontal scrollbar, it will stretch horizontally on double click as well. Quite useless in the age of responsive sites.
    – Domino
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 14:46
  • 1
    It works on most of the apps I've tested it with. I have macOS Big Sur.
    – MrAn3
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 0:43

I tried searching for hidden preference keys from the output of mdfind kMDItemContentType=public.unix-executable -onlyin /System|xargs strings 2>/dev/null|grep -E '^[a-zA-Z0-9.-]{10,80}$'|awk '!a[$0]++', but I couldn't find anything.

You can assign a shortcut for the Zoom menu item from System Preferences:

  • 1
    Not a bad approach, but it doesn't work for all applications - some don't have a Zoom menu item (Colloquy for example). Also, if the application uses this shortcut for something else you are out of luck, so you better use one that is really unique. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 19:35
  • This is a clean way to do it. Commented May 28, 2015 at 13:15
  • Sadly it is not (@Wkadunur Oakant explais why) and I am starting to think there is no clean way of doing that. Actually there is no way of doing it, not only the clean one
    – Srneczek
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 9:35

The question "How do you maximize windows?" was asked here, and user Am1rr3za offered the following, which will allow to you to override the default behavior of the maximize button to automatically maximize the window in both width and height:

Download and use RightZoom. It overrides your green plus (zoom) button and works like Windows maximize. You can add it to your login items in your user account to run every time you start OS X.

This software is free and it allows for custom key-bindings!

As for having to use Option + Shift + Left-Click to use the maximize feature:

I have noticed that in order to have a screen maximized within the viewport without actually entering "full screen/no distractions" mode in Yosemite, I only need to hold the Option key and left-click the maximize button, and that's worked for everything I use on a daily basis: Finder, Chrome, Transmit, SublimeText 3, WebStorm, Outlook, iTerm 2, and even Photoshop CS5(which seems to give me some issues with sizing on my Mac). I don't think you need to hold the Shift key to achieve the screen maximization you're looking for!

  • 3
    I have tried this app and it does not work as stated in the grey box. Commented Oct 25, 2014 at 17:30
  • 4
    Fair warning about RightZoom, it's developer also makes key loggers, personally I wouldn't run software from a source like that..
    – Chris
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 13:09
  • 1
    As for the app itself, it doesn't work for me either.
    – Etheryte
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 17:23
  • 1
    It was a nifty little app, but doesn't work with Yosemite...
    – PatrickT
    Commented Mar 20, 2015 at 16:07
  • 2
    I must warn against RightZoom as it created massive issues in an admittedly old installer and waste a lot of time finding the cause. The only reason for this is is most likely RightZoom hacks the system enough to cause issues. This was the last time I installed any haxies. Better to edit the system yourself and that is easier to remember.
    – MiB
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 13:38

In System Preferences --> Dock: uncheck the option "Double-click a window's title bar to minimize". When you double-click the title bar, it maximizes the window without entering full screen mode.

  • Works for some programs, not others. But this is the best answer I've seen as it doesn't require additional programs.
    – SMBiggs
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 17:31

The behaviour of this green button can be changed using a tiny accessibility add-on. Follow the instructions at http://osxdaily.com/2015/03/11/change-the-green-button-maximize-behavior-in-os-x-yosemite-with-bettertouchtool/

Basically, this application (once installed and authorized) with let you enhance the UI of OS X by allowing you to define new behaviours and modify existing ones. This adds for instance the window snapping capability to the Finder and also lets you define new gestures for the Magic Mouse and the Trackpad.

There is one little thing to know though, once you will modify the behaviour of the green button of the OS X window, this will not change the appearance of that button to make it look like a plus (+) instead of a fullscreen icon.

It allows also specifying modifier keys for mouse related action (ex. cmd + left click, ...)

  • As an additional information, the recent version of OSX does give the possibility to press Option + Full-Screen to maximize the size of the window without going Full Screen. Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 6:53

ShiftIt is a free app that does a similar job to some of the others mentioned here: Cmd+Alt+Ctrl+F gives you full-screen. It also does quarter screen, center, and move to next screen if you have multiple monitors. It requires XQuartz which does rather dwarf its <1Mb download. Hadn't come across Spectacle before; it may offer a more complete feature set.

To address another issue mentioned: the accessibility options are under Preferences/Security and Privacy/Accessibility, not the top-level accessibility.


To keep the menu bar in Full Screen:

  • In Desktop & Dock settings, set Automatically hide and show the menu bar to "Never"

To change the Full Screen button to Zoom:

  • Hold Option when you click.
  • This does not keep the window header visible like zoom does, but if all you really want is the menu/status bar, this is the right answer. Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 12:30

Better Touch Tool appears to be the easiest way to fix this. The newest version of it allows rebinding of the green button.

Glazblog has a nice article on setting this up.

I also got it to work with RightZoom

Some more details are at Packetmonger Blog

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