Mac OS X Lion gave us the ability to take apps full-screen, moving clutter and distractions out of the way and making organizing your desktop easier. Native apps like iPhoto, Safari, Mail and iCal supported this new full-screen mode out of the box, and third-party apps followed suit, including some of my favourites like Evernote, Chrome and Reeder.

But for anyone using more than one screen, this new full-screen mode renders that second or third screen a little pointless. For example, here’s a dual-screen setup with iTunes on the primary monitor and a peek at the second monitor, which displays Apple’s now-signature cross-hatch wallpaper:

OS X Lion Full Screen Mode with Dual Monitors

OS X Lion Full Screen Mode with Dual Monitors


That cross-hatch wallpaper area on the second monitor does not allow for a window or another full-screen app to be placed on it. It doesn’t even allow for widgets from the dashboard area. In other words, it’s useless.

I have heard the arguments from the other side on this one, stating that a solution is to simply close your laptop and use only the external monitor, or that placing two full-screen applications next to each other isn’t really in line with Apple’s intent when they rolled out this feature. The intent was to allow you to focus on one application, one task, one project at a time. Dual-monitor setups don’t fit into this philosophy because they’re made to multitask. I am of the opinion this dialogue could swiftly be snuffed out if Apple would provide an option to either allow or disallow applications to concurrently run in full-screen mode when more than one display is hooked up.

As it stands, it seems like a deliberately lazy part of an otherwise great operating system.