How to Exit Full-Screen Mode in Windows

full screen

How to Exit Full-Screen Mode in Windows

The full-screen feature is a blessing to computer users who want to watch content without distractions. In the full-screen mode, everything is bigger and clearer. That’s because you can view your screen without the taskbar, the minimize, maximize, and close buttons, and various distractions from other programs. Moreover, when in full-screen mode, it’s likely your program will run without glitches. However, learning how to exit full screen can be easier said than done, especially if you are used to using the control options in the top-right corner of your screen to exit programs. Now that you don’t have the X button on the screen that helps you exit the program, you may get confused. Nevertheless, exiting full screen in Windows isn’t that hard. Let’s discover how to do it.

Step 1: Exit Using the F11 Key

full-screen mode
Trying the fn+f11 combination.

The 11th function key (f11) is used to toggle between full-screen and windowed modes. Therefore, when you want to exit full screen, simply hit the f11 key. This works on many applications, especially browsers. 

If pressing f11 does not exit full screen, try pressing fn+f11. It is ideal when you’re using a keyboard without a dedicated function key row. Alternatively, long press the fn key, then press f11. 

Step 2: Click on the X

full-screen mode
Clicking on the X at the top of the screen.

Some applications, such as Chrome, go to full screen and hide their control options. In this case, hover your cursor over the top of the screen until a small circle with an X appears. Click on the X to exit the full screen. 

Check out the video below which will show you how to exit full screen using the first two methods.

Step 3: Press the Escape (Esc) Key

full-screen mode
Locating the Esc button on the keyboard.

The escape key (ESC) found in the right corner of your keyboard can help you escape full-screen mode. However, this function doesn’t work in all applications. It is mainly on YouTube, media players, or computer games.

You can also try using it in your specific application and see if it works. Suppose it doesn’t try other methods of exiting full-screen mode mentioned here. 

Step 4: Use the Square Button

full-screen mode
Finding the square button.

Some applications don’t hide the control options when in fullscreen mode. If you can still see the three control options in the screen’s top right corner, use the square button, found in the middle, to exit full-screen mode. 

The squares you use to minimize in full-screen mode are stacked on top of each other. 

Step 5: Use the Application Menu

full-screen mode
Holding down the alt+space bar keys on the keyboard.

You can use the application menu to perform the same functions. To activate the application menu, press the alt+space bar keys. 

Alternatively, you can open the application menu using the taskbar if you can access it in full-screen mode. Hover over to the icon of the application icon of the app you want to exit full screen at the taskbar, then right-click to open the application menu. 

full-screen mode
Clicking on Restore.

After opening the application menu, move using the cursor or keyboard navigation keys to Restore and click on the option. This will exit the full-screen mode. If Restore is inactive after opening the application menu, continue to the other methods discussed below. 

Step 6: Use the F Key

full-screen mode
Pressing the F key on the keyboard.

In some programs, such as VLC or YouTube, the key letter F works like F11. Press this key to exit full-screen or to return to full-screen if necessary. You can try and see whether it works on your specific application and opt for other methods if it does not work.

Step 7: Force-Closing the Application

If the app in full-screen mode is locked and you need to exit it, you can do so by force-closing it. Closing the app using these methods is also an option if you want to get back to windowed mode to help you close the app. 

Some of the methods you can use to close the application without using the control options include:

i) Using the Task Manager

1. Click on ctrl+alt+delete to open a list of options 

full-screen mode
Pressing ctrl+alt+delete


2. Scroll down to Task Manager 

full-screen mode
Locating the Task Manager.

On the options that open, scroll down to the Task Manager. You can also open the task manager by pressing ctrl+shift+ESC.

full-screen mode
Using ctrl+shift+ESC to open Task Manager.

3. Right-click on your chosen app

full-screen mode
Right-clicking on Microsoft Word.

Right-click on the app that you wish to exit and select the end task at the bottom right of the window. This will automatically close the application. 

ii) Using Alt+F4

full-screen mode
Closing an app with alt+f4.

Pressing the keys alt+f4 is a shortcut to closing an app. Therefore, press them while on the app that you want to exit full screen, and this will automatically close it. 

iii) Using Command Prompt

1. Press Windows key+R

full-screen mode
Opening the Run window.

This will open the Run window. Type cmd.

2. Type in tasklist

full-screen mode
Running tasklist in the command prompt.

In the command prompt, type tasklist to get a list of all running apps. 

3. Type Another Command to Kill the Program in Full-Screen

full-screen mode
Using the command taskkill.

The command is taskkill/im (name _of_program).exe. If the program you want to close is Google Chrome, you will type taskkill/im Google Chrome.exe. 

4. Press Enter

You will have successfully closed the unresponsive program.

Step 8: Leave the Full-Screen Window Without Closing the Program

If you no longer want to use the program in full-screen mode but are not ready to close it yet, there are other ways to exit it. These include the following:

i) Using Alt+Tab

full-screen mode
Pressing down alt+tab.

Pressing alt+tab helps you move to the next active program. For instance, if Chrome is in full-screen mode and you want to go to Microsoft Word, you can click on alt+tab to move to the next tab. 

full-screen mode
Navigating various tabs.

You can use the same keys to get back to the program in full-screen mode. 

ii) Using Windows+D

full-screen mode
Pressing Windows+D to return to the desktop.

Pressing the Windows key and the letter D simultaneously will take you back to the desktop. You can then open other programs you want to work on. This process does not close other running applications but leaves them running in the background. 

iii) Using Windows+M

full-screen mode
Pressing down Windows+M to minify all windows.

Holding down Windows+M instantly minimizes all running Windows. You can use this to leave the app that is in full screen and get back to the desktop. 

Step 9: Use the Chrome Context Menu

full-screen mode
Finding Exit full screen in the Chrome context menu.

If the program you want to exit is Chrome, you can use the Chrome context menu. You access this by right-clicking on an empty area on the page in full-screen mode. From the options that appear, select Exit full screen

To use the exit full-screen option, ensure that you click on an empty space on the page. Otherwise, you might get other options. 

Step 10: Use the Exit Full-Screen Icon

full-screen mode
Locating the Exit full-screen icon on a YouTube video.

The Exit full-screen icon is available on some apps, such as YouTube. When in full screen, you can click on the icon to get you back to windowed mode. 

Step 11: Restart the Computer

full-screen mode
Pressing alt+f4 to restart the computer.

You can use this as a last resort if all other attempts have failed. To restart the computer, click alt+f4, then select the restart option. 

full-screen mode
Selecting the Restart option.

How to Exit Full Screen: Conclusion 

Exiting full-screen mode is easy when using any of the methods above. If none of them are working, try restarting your computer. Otherwise, you might have to update your display drivers if your computer keeps getting stuck in full-screen mode. None the less, exiting full screen doesn’t need to be a headache and in most cases it can easily be achieved using just a few simple steps.

Up Next 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I exit a program that is stuck in full-screen mode?

You can exit a program stuck in full-screen mode by forcing it to close. Use the Task Manager or click on alt+F4 to force close the program. You can also run the command prompt and execute the task kill command to exit the program stuck in full-screen mode.

Why does my screen flicker when in full-screen mode?

If your screen flickers in full-screen mode, you are probably running an incompatible app, or there are issues with your display drivers. Otherwise, your computer could have a virus or malware attack.

How do I fix YouTube full-screen problems?

If YouTube full-screen isn’t working and you are stuck in mini-player mode, press the F5 button to reload the web page. If this doesn’t work, disable and remove extensions or try clearing the browser’s themes.

If the Chrome tab where you are viewing YouTube is in full-screen, get it back to windowed mode as it may be causing the YouTube full-screen glitches.

Why does Chrome keep going to full screen when it’s not supposed to?

If your Chrome browser automatically goes to full-screen when it’s not supposed to, it is using JavaScript that automatically forces it to go to full-screen.

To stop this, go to Chrome settings. Under the Privacy section, select Content settings. Next, click on the button next to ‘Do not allow any site to run JavaScript’ and select OK.

Which is the best mode for playing games in Windows?

The best mode for playing games in Windows is the full-screen mode, especially if you do not have other apps running on the same PC. However, if other apps are running on it, or if you don’t want the game to be in fullscreen, use windowed mode instead.

What is the difference between full-screen and borderless mode?

Full-screen and borderless modes differ in terms of the functions you can perform. In full-screen mode, the application takes up the entire screen, and the mouse is locked to that program. Additionally, the computer system dedicates most of its resources to the app in full-screen mode.

On the other hand, borderless mode looks like fullscreen but is, in fact, windowed mode without borders. You can use the whole screen without freezing the mouse to that specific program.

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