Apple Is “Absolutely Aware” Fullscreen Mac Apps On Multiple Monitors Leave Much To Be Desired

Apple Is “Absolutely Aware” Fullscreen Mac Apps On Multiple Monitors Leave Much To Be Desired

We just got tipped an email from a reader who emailed Apple VP of Mac Software Engineering Craig Federighi. Cult of Mac reader Stephen Gilbert emailed Federighi about not being able to use fullscreen Mac apps on multiple displays. When you make an app enter fullscreen mode in Lion or Mountain Lion, it will fill one display and blackout your secondary monitor.

For some reason Apple doesn’t allow you to use an app in fullscreen mode while viewing content on another display, and it’s annoying. For instance, entering fullscreen mode for an iTunes movie will make it impossible to use your second display while the video is playing. Not exactly an optimal experience for those who fancy lots of screen real estate.

Federighi noted in his response that he can’t comment on future plans, but Apple is aware of the issue. Hopefully we’ll see the fullscreen experience in OS X improve soon.

Apple executives are known to occasionally respond to customer emails. Apple VP Phil Schiller responded to an email about the iPod touch’s ambient light sensor earlier today.

  • Thanks  Stephen
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  • Solowalker

    “For some reason”? How about for the reason that it’s an incredibly difficult problem to solve from a user experience and UI design standpoint. Frequently these simple sounding changes are the most complex. Think about these questions, for example:

    Where would your Desktop appear and how would you access it? If you opened another app, what would happen? Since fullscreen apps make another space, how would you switch between spaces? Would they switch together or separately? If separate, how would you get other windows from one space to another if you add a fullscreen app in the mix, go from one space to the fullscreen app then have to drag over to the other screen? Would you keep the same space order between the two? Would spaces alternate between screens? Would you have to have your mouse on one screen to switch spaces then move your mouse back to the other screen to switch spaces there? What would happen if one of your spaces without a fullscreen app had windows open on both screens and you tried to switch to that space on only one screen? What would happen if you exited fullscreen mode?

    Again, these are just a small subset of questions you’d have to answer in order to properly execute this feature. When spec’ing out a feature, all possible situations need to be mapped out and behavior defined before you start programming. Even for something as “simple” as this such a document could easily be pages and pages and pages of explanation.

    Just because you can word your feature request in a couple words doesn’t mean it only takes a few lines of code to make it happen. Honestly, I would have been floored if Apple could have solved this whole thing with Mountain Lion after just a year since first introducing fullscreen in Lion. To have gotten through product testing, feedback, design, coding, and bug fixing (not to mention all the red tape and approvals along the way) for something so huge would have been pretty astounding.

    It’s this type of thing that used to cause OS updates to take multiple years between releases. With Apple changing to an annual release cycle, it’s not going to be surprising at all if there are certain features that still take multiple years to complete, but that doesn’t mean Apple should withhold all other completed features in the meantime so from now on they aren’t.

  • hanhothi

    I don’t have this problem with my multi monitor Windows7 set up. I can save as without any problem too! It is this sort of “it just works” that I can well do without thanks.

    My Windows7 set up, that I built myself so it has exactly the hardware I want, doesn’t crash either. I don’t have to install a second operating system on top so I can run the software I need. It looks great when I watch a 3D movie on my 42 inch 3D screen. Oh yes!

  • Boris

    I’d say that almost ALL aspects of windows operating in MacOS have to be improved. I like my Mac, but lack of single and well-thought approach to windows manipulation makes me sick. Beside a problem mentioned above:

    1. You have Minimize button but you can’t see minimized windows with Cmd+Tabbing (only with idiotic Cmd+Alt+Tab)! WTF? Are those microscopic tiny buttons the primary way I should hide my windows?

    2. You got useful Cmd+H shortcut for hiding, but there’s no such button on program bar! And when I use Hide, it hides all my documents opened with that app!

    3. There’s no way to align windows by 27″ screen without third-part apps.

    4. It goes worst if I have my docs from single app opened on different virtual desktops…

    Usually I work actively with 4-5 apps, some of them have 5-6 docs opened. In MS Windows I would manipulate them easily with their simple “window = document” approach with keyboard only. It’s just no-brainer. In Mac OS it is a pain. It’s feels so archaic.

    Wake up, Apple! It’s 21 century with more than one document may be opened for a single app! You should rethink window-operating user interface COMPLETELY. Mission Control is a good move but problem issues lay much deeper.

  • Rens Verhoeven

    I emailed Tim Cook about xcode and he directed the email to the xcode department. I spoke with the manager there about the (bad) state of xcode 4 and helped him fix a couple of big bugs in xcode 4.4.

    I also asked him this question because someone I know want’s to use xcode alongside coda on 2 monitors. He told me it was something fundamental with the AppKit framework (read the framework used in every app). It had something to do with the menu/status bar. They’re working on it but the want to make sure it works with every app and doesn’t crash the app. I don’t know how long it is going to take them.

  • helenaglory

    @Solowalker, have you ever used “presentation mode” in Google Chrome on Snow Leopard? That is a pretty strong execution of how I’d like to see full screen apps work. Chrome takes up the entirety of the monitor it was in, but any other monitors stay as regular desktops. You can also still open apps in that screen if you want, which is particularly helpful with textedit and calculator. I think the basic issue is the first one you mention–that full screen apps create another space. I really find Desktops in Lion to be lacking as compared to Spaces in Snow Leopard. Personally, my question is why Apple decided to make such a radical change that dropped a significant amount of functionality.

  • rislas

    Do someone has the email of Craig Federighi? I need to escalate an issue with him.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for over two years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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