Unlike Windows, you cannot maximize a window in Mac with a click of the button. The little green (+) button next to the red and yellow buttons at the left of the windows does some strange stuff sometimes when you click it and doesn't do the expected operations.

How would you fully maximize a window on a Mac?

  • 12
    In the Mac OS (all iterations), windows maximize to the logical size of the content being viewed, not the size of the entire screen. Some have argued that Windows' behavior of maximizing to the size of the screen was simply a cheesy and lame copy of Mac OS' behavior. Either way, the technology isn't perfect, but it should help explain the majority of what you are seeing when you press the Maximize button. Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 14:28
  • 6
    The flaw in your logic is that whatever "the logical size" the app is coded for is entirely subjective. Personally, I find very large finder windows to be more efficient, as I can see much of my folder hierarchy without having to take time scrolling. Others may find that having very small windows is preferable.
    – BryanH
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 22:58
  • Gordon, I tried this shortcut approach on a MacPro running Yosemite, but the key combination did nothing in Excel. The problem with Excel and Yosemite is that clicking the green button in Excel makes the window full screen, and in the process the buttons for resizing/minimizing the display disappear at the top of the window! Worse still, you can't drag from the bottom right corner to resize. The only way to make the window small again is to hit the escape key or F11 which shows your desktop. This is not obvious to most users. Yosemite needs to be patched to fix this problem!!!
    – user98574
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 12:11

21 Answers 21


On Yosemite:

  • Double click the window top bar (Like in MS Windows)


  • Option-click the green dot in the top left.

On older OS X versions: Shift-click the green (+)

  • 7
    Apparently shift-clicking the green (+) doesn't have any effect on fully maximising the applications. Are you sure that this works?
    – JFW
    Commented Oct 12, 2010 at 14:53
  • 10
    @JFW it depends if the app has been programmed to do it so. For instance, Google Chrome work with this. Finder, iTunes and Safari doesn't. Before anyone says so, TextEdit and Terminal are default to full screen without <kbd>shift</kbd>. Bottom line, this is not a good answer as it's far from being standardized enough through apps.
    – cregox
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 20:32
  • 2
    Oh, wow. I've been using OSX for six years now. And I never new this...
    – gentmatt
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 15:53
  • You can also try Option-click. I believe it works in iTunes Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 9:17
  • This does not maximize the window to full screen size. The window is sized depending on the content, which is barely want usually want. Indeed most of my applications have dynamic width contents (the browser is the first which comes to my mind) Commented May 19, 2015 at 16:11

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.

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  • can it be uninstalled? will it return to the "normal behaviour?
    – Asaf
    Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 19:36
  • 1
    if don't run it the green + behave in default no need of uninstall.
    – Am1rr3zA
    Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 20:43
  • this would be perfect if it was assigned to shift+click.
    – cregox
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 20:36
  • 2
    Best answer IMO. Since the other, accepted answer only works with some applications, this is the best solution!
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Sep 2, 2012 at 5:08
  • "like Windows" you can say all other OS window managers Commented May 19, 2015 at 16:13

BetterTouchTool, if you have a macbook pro which has a multitouch pad (I'm betting you do), it lets you assign thing like Windows style maximise to the very top middle of your touch pad. But you don't have to use it like that, as it has an AeroSnap type feature, where you can just drag a window to the top of the screen and it will truly maximise, also dragging it to the left/right will make the window take up the left/right side of the screen.

I find the Mac version of maximise unsatisfactory for things like web page and xcode. And betterTouchTool has many good features.

  • 1
    +1 for BetterTouchTool - this is how I maximize windows on Mac too.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 12:29

I use an inexpensive app, Cinch from Irradiated Software. Whenever I need to maximize a window, I just drag it from the titlebar to the top of the screen, and Cinch takes care of resizing it for me. If I need to unmaximize, I just move it a little out of its position and it is restored to its previous state. I wish there were some way to do it (automatically) without extra applications, provided with the default system, but I know not of it.


Mac OS X does not have a button for maximizing windows, instead you should drag the bottom-right of the window to resize it to your prefered size.

And meanwhile the green plus button at the top-left resizes the window so that it fits the content of that window.


I use Spectacle. It's free and open source. The default key shortcut for maximizing windows is +F.

  • This must've changed in the later versions. Spectacle now goes to full screen, not maximized.
    – worc
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 15:35
  • and now it's changed back. the default for "fullscreen" command+option+f actually maximizes the window. this has been the correct answer for me for the last few versions of OSX.
    – worc
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 19:45

I use Moom for that purpose, also for rearranging and moving my windows between monitors. You basically get the same keyboard based window management that windows 7 users get, just a lot more configurable.

I have it setup so that Ctrl+ CMD + Left puts the window to the left side of the current display, Ctrl+ CMD + right to the right side, + Ctrl + CMD + Down to the next of my current monitors and finally Ctrl + CMD + Up to maixmize the window. Makes for some pretty quick and sleek work combinations (Two windows next to each other for comparision? 1 second, there you go :))


I move the window to the top-left edge of the screen, and drag the window-sizing handle on the bottom-right corner of the window to the bottom-right edge of the screen.

I don’t have to do it very often, as windows seem to remember what size they were at.


For many applications (Safari, Mail, Terminal, ...), simply command-clicking the + button will maximize the window.

  • Doesn't really work-Has the same effect of normally clicking the + button.
    – JFW
    Commented Oct 12, 2010 at 14:54

I've assigned this script to ⌥⌘M. It doesn't work with all windows or with multiple displays though.

tell application "Finder" to set {0, 0, dtw, dth} to bounds of window of desktop
    tell application (path to frontmost application as text)
        if name is in {"Terminal"} then
            set bounds of window 1 to {0, 22, dtw, dth}
        end if
    end tell
on error
    tell application "System Events" to tell (process 1 where it is frontmost)
            click (button 1 of window 1 where subrole is "AXZoomButton")
        end try
    end tell
end try

While pressing Alt, drag a corner of the window to that corresponding corner of your screen. It will expand the window in all directions, until the window takes up the full screen.

This is a simple way of doing it without having to download any additional programs, built right in to the OS, though it might be a bit more tedious. It works for all windows that can be resized, unlike some of the other solutions which work for specific apps.

  • 1
    Wow. I had no idea this function existed.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 19:52

DoublePane - $4.99 does that by Ctrl+Option+Up. This is also can be done with Spectacle which is free on MAS


If you are on macOS Sierra, you can do this: hold the Alt button and double click on the bottom left corner (or any other corner) of the screen to make the window take up the maximum amount of space with going into fullscreen mode.


Using Alt-Click on the green (+) maximizes most windows. But if also that don't fit your wishes, you could use the plugin sizewell.


Move the mouse to the corner of the window where it becomes a resizing arrow and option double click to fill the screen, WITHOUT going into full screen mode.

Double clicking on any side when the resize arrow is visible will move that side to the edge of the screen. Adding option affects the opposite side as well.

Both of these controls may be obscure / not in common use, but they are excellent.


For later versions of OS X (10.7+), hit the enter image description here full-screen icon at the top right corner of the app's window.

  • 3
    That's full screen, not maximized.
    – worc
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 15:36
  • @worc what is the difference -Windows maximise makes the app window cover the whole screen
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 21:39
  • 4
    The full screen button takes away the task bar and the dock.
    – worc
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 21:43

By ignoring the meta keys, the green button's use is minimized.

You can define a shortcut for the Zoom function to toggle between Maximize and Normalize.

  1. System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts
  2. If you don't see a shortcut for Zoom, click the + button
  3. Enter Zoom in the Menu Title field and a shortcut key combination (e.g. ⇧⌘M)
  4. Click Add to save the shortcut.

Now the ⇧⌘M combination should toggle the current window between Maximize and Normalize.


In previous version of OS X the Shift+Click option worked.

Currently in Yosemite if you haven't changed the default behavior, the green button is set to fullscreen not maximize so now the shortcut is:

Opt + Shift + Clicking the green plus (+)


You could try using Magnet app. It's a small app that basically gives you the functionality of window snapping on Mac (the same as you have in Windows). You can see how it works here: Window snapping on Mac OS

  • Welcome to Ask Different! If you're sharing content you're affiliated with, you must disclose your affiliation in the post.
    – grg
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 20:56
  1. Move the mouse to a Safari window corner, you will see the resize arrow ⤢ ⤡.
  2. Option (Alt) ⌥ + double click

Window is maximised now :-)


Recently: Option (alt) + Green circle

  • How does this differ or improve on other answers?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 20:42

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