How to Exit Full Screen on Windows

How to Exit Full Screen on Windows

Full screen mode is a great way to help you utilize your screen space without distractions from other apps.

But it can be frustrating if you find yourself forgetting how to exit full screen mode.

If you’re looking for a way to exit full screen on Windows, we’ve got you covered.

F11 Key

If you’re unfamiliar, there’s a row of keys above the number keys on a keyboard that serve as function keys. These are the F1 through F12 keys, and all have various functions based on which program you’re using. In many programs, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other web browsers, F11 activates full screen mode. However, if you’re already in full screen mode, you can hit F11 to exit full screen mode.

F11 Key to Exit Full Screen

Something to note is that sometimes in order to use the F11 key, you may have to hold the function (Fn) key while pressing the F11 key for it to work. This is most common on laptops, where manufacturers use the function key to allow keys to serve as multiple different keys in order to shrink the keyboard without sacrificing keys.

Escape Key

If the F11 key doesn’t work, then another alternative is the Escape (Esc) key. This doesn’t work for all apps, but usually works in certain situations when F11 doesn’t, such as when a YouTube video is in full screen mode.

Escape Key to Exit Full Screen

Other Ways to Exit Full Screen

While using the F11 or Escape key is a very common way to exit full screen mode, sometimes apps just won’t respond to those keys. If you’ve tried the other two keys, and can’t get out of full screen mode, then try these other common alternatives to see if they’ll help you exit full screen mode.

Click the X

This trick pertains to Google Chrome, but it may also work with other applications if they utilize the same feature. When you’re in full screen mode on Google Chrome, if you move your mouse near the top of the screen, an X button will slide down. Clicking that X will exit full screen mode.

Click the 'X' Button


If you’ve got a video open in full screen mode, sometimes using the F key will work to toggle full screen mode. This is the case on YouTube, and also works on apps like VLC.

Alt + Enter

Out of all the alternative ways to toggle full screen mode, perhaps the most common is by using the Alt + Enter keys. This is especially common in emulators, such as Snes9x, Project64, and Cemu.

Windows Key + M

If you don’t need to completely exit full screen mode, but rather, just minimize the window, then you can try the Windows key + M. This will minimize all open windows on your computer, and can be a useful way to get to the desktop quickly.

Windows Key + D

Speaking of the desktop, the Windows key + D is another quick way that you can return to the desktop. Like the Windows key + M shortcut, it will minimize all windows on your PC and return you to the desktop.

Alt + Tab

Like the previous keys, if you don’t necessarily need to exit full screen mode, but would rather switch to another app, then you can try the Alt + Tab shortcut.

If you quickly press both of these keys together, it will switch you to the last active window. But if you hold down the Alt key after you press Tab, it will leave an overlay on the screen which allows you to choose from all open windows. You can then click on any of these windows, or press Tab while keeping Alt held down to cycle through the open windows.

Alt + F4

If you’ve tried everything else, and nothing is working, then the program that you have in full screen mode might not be responding. If that’s the case, then you can close the program with the Alt + F4 keys, which will get you out of full screen mode.

Cody Brown

Cody is a gamer, writer, and computer programmer who's always looking to optimize and automate everyday tasks. When he's not immersed in prose and code, he's busy tinkering with computers, automating his home, and spending time with his wife and kids.

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