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How do you maximize windows?

The green maximise window button in Safari.app is doing a "smart" maximise instead of using the full area available. So in most cases, it only grows to the maximum vertical size but tries to work out what it thinks is the ideal width of the web page and grows only to that size horizontally (about 1024 pixels for Stack Exchange for example).

This doesn't work so well when using tabbed browsing extensively, as it only uses the frontmost tab to determine width and there might be another tab (open or soon to be opened in the same window) that would benefit from using the whole screen width instead. So I end up manually resizing the Safari window to it's full width a lot.

How do I get Safari to always maximise to full size, like TextEdit.app does? Preferably this would be the default, while option-clicking the green button gives me the "smart" behaviour, or the other way around.

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I'm a bit surprised nobody has asked this question yet, but a search for maximising Safari showed nothing. Please do point me to it if I missed it!

  • Other related questions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    – Lri
    Sep 1, 2012 at 8:49
  • 1
    Move the mouse to the corner of the window where it becomes a resizing arrow and option double click to fill the screen. Aug 9, 2020 at 6:02

2 Answers 2


A lot of the solutions (such as Right Zoom) for this are intrusive: they REPLACE the current "zoom" functionality, with the "maximize" functionality your looking for. Although that "solves" your problem, I would advise against it, as the regular zoom is invaluable in many situations, and isn't as wasteful of screen space as maximize.

The solution I would recommend is Cinch ($7), which adds Window's AeroSnap functionality to the Mac OS. Holding a window up to the top of the screen with "snap" it to full screen, or dragging it to one of the side will make it fill that respective half of the screen. This will allow you to maximize what you wish, but it still retains the zoom buttons ability to optimally increase the size of a window.

  • 1
    Also, the excellent BetterTouchTool provides much the same functionality (dragging the window up to the top of the screen to snap to maximize, or to the left/right to snap to that half of the screen - as well as loads of other cool hotkey stuff!) and is free/donationware
    – binarybob
    Aug 31, 2012 at 14:49
  • Right Zoom does what I want with the Option key enabled - thanks. And thanks for the BetterTouchTool link, that's what I ended up using due to having a whole bunch of other useful functionality. Sep 7, 2012 at 23:40

The green button is in fact the Zoom button, and does not serve the same purpose as a Maximize button in for example Windows would. You can read more about the differences between Mac OS X window controls and Windows window controls here: http://www.davidalison.com/2010/11/window-controls-mac-os-vs-windows.html

In short, whereas a Maximize button's purpose is enlarging the window to take up the entire screen estate, the purpose of a Zoom button is to enlarge the Window based on the resolution and the user interface inside the window.

Some applications might implement an Option-click for a maximizing behavior, instead of zooming, but this is application specific and Safari does not have such a functionality. Instead, Safari will "zoom" the window based on the content of the window, which usually just means enlarging it vertically. If there are horizontal scrollbars, Safari might also enlarge the window horizontally to try and eliminate the scrolling.

As an alternative, you can use fullscreen mode in Safari which will always take up all available desktop space.

If that doesn't suffice, there are some additional window management tools you can install which facilitate window placement and scaling. I can recommend Moom, which is available in the App Store.

  • Yes, I know how it works (I described it in the question, hoping to avoid this kind of answer). The way it works just doesn't suit me, so I want to know how to make it work in a way that suits me. Thanks for the link though. Aug 31, 2012 at 14:06
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    Well, I did offer two solution in addition to explaining the Zoom functionality :)
    – Gerry
    Aug 31, 2012 at 14:08

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