Splitters in MacOS

macOS and Mac Apps


I've been using MacOS on a basic level for a few years now, but have always wondered what the horizontal and vertical splitters are.

Voiceover reads them out to me, but I've never had a need to interact with them or fully get a grasp on what it is they are able to do.

Is there ever a time when someone like myself with no sight at all would need to interact or use them with Voiceover? Or can I continue to ignore them!

Any info helpfully received, Cheers, Stu.



Submitted by Stoo on Thursday, April 8, 2021

So can I assume that nobody else knows what on earth these splitters are!? lol!

Submitted by Cobbler on Thursday, April 8, 2021

Splitters are the UI elements that separate visual elements of an application's window.

For instance, the Mac Messages application has a vertical splitter that visually separates the list of conversations on the left side of the window from the message list for the currently selected conversation that is displayed on the right side of the screen.

The splitter can be used to resize the relative size of each of these two elements. So, when you interact with the splitter, VoiceOver will speak the current relative position of the splitter as a percentage. In the case of my example, the smaller the percentage, the narrower the list of conversation is.

Sighted users may choose to use the splitter to resize the relative sizes of a window's UI elements to suit their preference.

For VoiceOver users, it typically will make no difference.

Am exception is if a splitter is resized to zero or 100 percent, as this has the effect of visually hiding the UI element on one side of the splitter, which will typically mean that it will also be hidden to VoiceOver (note that on some occasions where an application does not follow recommend coding guidelines, VoiceOver may in fact still “see” a UI element which is visually hidden. An example here is Safari, where you will find a vertical splitter to the left of the main browser window. If set to zero, VoiceOver will announce this as “vertical splitter collapsed on left.” If you interact with the splitter and increase it's relative size, you will find that this has the effect of revealing the sidebar (something you might otherwise use a keyboard shortcut to reveal and hide).

Hope this makes sense ☺️