I love using the keyboard in Windows. It's an integrated part of the OS, and it feels like it; nearly every mouse action has a keyboard equivalent.

However, as I am starting to use Macs more and more, I'm missing two things primarily from Windows: the ability to maximize (not whatever the green button does (what does it do?))- windows and the ability to maximize windows from the keyboard.

Thus, without further ado: How can I maximize windows with a keyboard shortcut?

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    What version of the OS are you running? If Lion, by maximize, do you mean full screen mode, or just the biggest possible window in regular screen mode?
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 12:07
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    The green button is called the Zoom button. What it does is toggle the window between a user-defined size and an "optimal" size based on the content. For example, if you're in Safari, it'll make the window wide enough to show the full width of the site, but no wider. In practice, I don't like the unpredictability of it and don't use it.
    – daGUY
    Commented Jan 18, 2013 at 14:08

7 Answers 7


One of the easiest ways to do this is to use BetterTouchTool. It will let you bind a keyboard shortcut or a trackpad shortcut to many commands, including maximize window.

Once you are in the BTT settings page, do the following:

  1. Go to the Keyboard tab on top.
  2. On the bottom near Keyboard shortcut, enter in whichever keyboard shortcut you want.
  3. For Predefined action, choose Maximize Window.

There are many other options related to maximizing besides "Maximize Window":

  • Maximize Window Left
  • Maximize Window Right
  • Maximize Window To Bottom Half
  • Maximize Window To Top Half
  • Maximize To Next Monitor
  • Is this F? I don't have access to my MB with the MAS on it ATM. [edit: added more acronyms. dilbert.com/strips/comic/1993-01-12. btw, F = free.] Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 19:46
  • @JavaAndCSharp: Yeah, you download it directly from the website. The developer appreciates donations, though.
    – Senseful
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 19:48
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    Thanks. Wow, the only free solution here doesn't have any votes but a paid solution has 2? Sad. Well, here's a green check for you. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 19:51
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    @JavaAndCSharp You seem to have a strong bias toward free solutions. Good solutions are generally more important than free ones. Some things are worth paying for. If Mac users didn't believe that, they likely wouldn't be Mac users.
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 12:08
  • @DanielL: I definitely agree that some things are worth paying for - like Office, AutoCAD, and the next version of OS X/Windows if you're on one of those OSes. However, I'd much rather put $14 toward something else, like a better keyboard or a USB drive. Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 20:37

I have assigned this script to ⌘M with FastScripts:

    tell application "Finder" to bounds of window of desktop
    tell application (path to frontmost application as text)
        set bounds of window 1 to result
    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 tell
    end try
end try

It doesn't work with multiple displays though.

Applications that haven't been mentioned by other answers:

  • Lri, you're the man! This is a good answer and does not rely on third-party software.
    – gentmatt
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 14:45

You can use an application like Divvy to do this. Divvy lets you select a rectangular area that you want the current window to take up. Selecting the entire screen lets you do a Windows-like "maximize" to have the frontmost window take up all available space on the screen.

It also lets you define keyboard shortcuts for specific rectangular selections that you want to use frequently. These can either be per-app, or a "global shortcut" that will work with all apps. To define them, right-click on the Divvy menu bar icon, select preferences, and select "Shortcuts". Click "new" and you'll be presented with a screen to define the selection and the keys you want to use:

enter image description here


BetterSnapTool (by the same author as BetterTouchTool) will allow you to do this. You can either drag the window to the top of the screen to maxmimise it (á la Windows 7) or define a shortcut key. There are also lots of other options such as maximise left-half or right-half etc. Its also only £1.49/$1.99 on the app store, which is almost free :-)

enter image description here


There's another great app called Moom -- similar to Divvy, but only $5.

It does everything Divvy does, plus keyboard resizing, drag-to-edge-ing, etc.



There is a built-in way to do what you want. I currently have Mountain Lion but I suspect it will work on Lion, Snow Leopard and earlier too*:

Trick we'll use:

Holding the Shift key when pressing the Zoom button (the green button) maximizes the window the way Windows does. We'll add a keyboard shortcut for Zoom that contains the Shift key.


  1. Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts
  2. Select "Application Shortcuts" and press the plus sign (+).
  3. Make a new Zoom keyboard shortcut that contains the Shift key:

    • Application: All Applications
    • Menu Title: Zoom

      (that's the name of the green button's function)

    • Keyboard Shortcut: Anything that suits you. Make sure it contains the Shift key!

      (e.g. Ctrl-Cmd-Shift-Z. Make sure it doesn't clash with existing shortcuts, e.g. Cmd-Shift-Z with Redo).


Turns out it doesn't work on Safari (and others probably) - I was using it with Google Chrome. The app has to be programmed to support it..

* If someone with Leopard/Snow Leopard/Lion can confirm I would be grateful.

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    It doesn't work with Preview, QuickTime Player, Sequential, or Transmission either.
    – Lri
    Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 9:59

To do a full maximize, press ctrl-cmd-f

By "full maximize" I mean the kind where the menubars go into auto-hide mode. (forgive my newbie-ness, I only bought my first mac yesterday)

  • Can it also get back to its default position after pressing ctrl-cmd-f? @matt burns
    – alper
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 17:10

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