How to exit full screen on Windows

We show you six ways to exit full screen on Windows PCs.

Full screen mode is an effective way to view an app like a web browser, word processor, or video game without distractions and in more detail. It typically allows you to use your computer screen’s entire real estate by displaying the content at full resolution and hiding toolbars. While leaving the mode is usually straightforward, it helps to know the various ways you can exit, in case the app is stuck, or you entered full screen mode by accident. So, let’s learn how to exit full screen on Windows operating systems.

How do I get out of full screen on Windows?

Here are six different ways to exit full screen:

Press F11

Your keyboard’s function keys, also known as F keys, serve as shortcuts for taking screenshots, printing, refreshing, and more. They are usually in a straight line across the top of your keyboard, typically between the Esc (Escape) key on the left and the Pause/Break key on the right. The most common way to get out of full screen mode on Windows 10 is to use the 11th function key.

To leave full screen mode on Windows 10, press F11 located near the top-right of your keyboard. You can press F11 again to return. If you hit F11 rapidly, you will see the screen bounce between the two modes.

Remember, some fancier keyboards on laptops or keyboards designed for gamers can have multiple functions for a single F key. If F11 doesn’t work, try using the Fn key to switch its mode. Alternatively, you may need to hold Fn before pressing F11 to exit full screen.

Click the X in the circle

If F11 doesn’t help, don’t panic. Try moving your mouse cursor to the top of the screen. You should now see a circle with an X. Click the circle to exit full screen mode in Windows.

Press Esc

The Esc key, also known as the Escape key, helps you exit a mode or stop a sequence. You can find the Esc key on the top-left-corner of your keyboard. In some apps like media players or computer games, the Esc key also allows you to exit full screen mode. However, it won’t work this way in web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Use the square button

Although the full screen modes on most apps hide toolbars, some don’t. If you see the square button before the X on the top-right on a toolbar, click it to return to regular mode. You can also press X to close the window.

Use the application menu

The application menu may help you leave full screen mode. Press the Alt key and the spacebar to see a list of commands. Use the restore option to exit full screen mode. Alternatively, press close to exit the app.

Try the Task Manager

If nothing else works, you can use the Task Manager. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del on your keyboard and click Task Manager. Now, find the app that’s stuck in full screen mode under Processes. Highlight the app and press End task at the bottom right.

Here are a few more shortcuts to help you exit a program:

  • The Alt+F4 keyboard shortcut will completely close a program.
  • Windows+Tab will open the Task View Interface.
  • Alt+Tab will help you flip between tasks.
  • Windows+M can minimize all your Windows.

How do I exit full screen mode on YouTube in Windows?

Press the F key to exit full screen mode on YouTube. You can press it again to return to the full screen setting quickly. Alternatively, press the F11 or Esc key to switch YouTube from full screen.

Full screen bugs

Sometimes, malware and other Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) can freeze or crash your computer, making it look like your system is stuck in full screen mode. Run a Windows antivirus solution to remove malicious software from your system that may cause such problems. To aggressively target PUPs that can cause your browser to malfunction, you can use a PUP cleaning tool. It is helpful to also learn how to check for Windows updates to optimize your operating system. 

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