Its a trivial question but I'm wondering which term is technically correct and which makes more sense to an end user.

I think of full screen is being more intuitive and maximised being technical jargon. However we also have:

Given that is it more correct to name a command line option?

--fullScreen, --maximised or --startMaximised

For just making an application start with maximised / full screen sized window.

Do these terms have specific / technically correct usages in the UX community?

It also begs the collolary of whether you should also have:

--minimised / --windowed

and perhaps --kiosk for completeness

  • 2
    Users' don't really care what is a technically correct term. They just care about what's intuitive. I would hypothesise that for average users if you use the term 'Full Screen' they'll take their cues from things like YouTube where 'Full Screen' refers to expanding the whole content to use all the screen, removing all frames and window controls. If that's the behaviour you're after then that's the term I'd go with.
    – JonW
    Oct 26, 2023 at 13:08
  • The key is whether the controls are removed or not. That makes the difference versus maximised. Is full screen generally undertood as meaning the controls (minimiase etc) should be hidden? I did not prior to this understand it that way. Oct 26, 2023 at 16:06
  • I'm with @JonW . yes, you could go all semiotics and say "full screen is a state with defined boundaries while maximize is an action that enlarges to random boundaries ranging from the minimum chrome window to infinite ". But how would it help users? either way, if you want to start with full Screen, like JonW said, it's full screen , because maximize implies an action that creates a change of state (eg: window cannot be maximized and/or you don't know it before hand)
    – Devin
    Oct 26, 2023 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


I use "maximized" to refer to a windowed display mode and "full screen" to refer to a display mode that excludes all normal desktop functionality. Thus when watching YouTube I always have the browser window maximized but I still have a separate button to make the video full screen.

I've seen this mirrored in at least one other place: the settings for Age of Empires II DE...

Not long ago my company switched our devices to Macbooks instead of Windows laptops. Now the distinction matters to me a lot more than it used to.

  • I'm inclined to agree and I'm going with this unless subsquent votes and answerrs suggest something different. Oct 30, 2023 at 15:53

I think before the concept of multi-screen configurations in our workstations and foldable devices, this term would have the same meaning since we are just working with one screen. And even before that, there was the concept of tiling multiple screens in a large display device (something we see in trading platforms).

There are even software to support the display of a window across multiple screens tiled together, so the concept of a window that is displayed on a 'screen' can be both an abstract or concretely defined concept.

Like many have already commented, users don't care what the feature is called. If you have only one single behaviour that is toggled on and off (in one or more ways) then the user will understand it. If you have multiple behaviours that are toggled on and off then you will need a consistent language and interaction pattern to ensure that there is no confusion to the user.

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