Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Using START and SWAP for mutliple split screens

Most ISPF users are familiar with the F2 SPLIT key and the F9 SWAP key. These keys are used to create a second ISPF session and switch between two ISPF sessions.

The F2 SPLIT command will create a second session and split the screen at the current cursor line. To get a full screen split, you would use the arrow keys to position the cursor at the top or bottom line of the display, then press F2.

To reposition the split, you move the cursor to a line on the screen and press F2 again.

The START command will always perform a full screen split, regardless of the cursor position and it automatically allows multiple split sessions (minimum of 8 sessions, some sites support 32).

Another benefit to the START command is the ability to use it with a command or ISPF option.

For example:


Would start a new full screen session with a list of data sets matching your TSO PROFILE PREFIX.

Would start a full screen session with the ISPF WORKPLACE.

Managing split sessions:
Each new session you split to using the START command is numbered.

To see a list of all the sessions use the command: swap list

You can use the "swap list" to choose a session by putting your cursor on the . (period) to the left of the session and pressing "enter".

You'll also see that one session is marked with a - (hyphen) and one is marked with an * (asterisk). The * session is the current focus of your ISPF display. The - session is the alternate screen that is switched to when the F9 Swap key is pressed.

Pressing F9 Swap will only switch between the two marked sessions.

Without using the "swap list", you can:

Move to the next logical session use the command: swap next

Switch to a specific sessions use the command: swap number

Remember that F key commands are combined with the ISPF command line, so:

(on the command line) + F9 = swap number

next (on the command line) + F9 = swap next

list (on the command line) + F9 = swap list

Give it a try and have fun!


  1. How do you change the Session with the hyphen "-"? I want to have the hyphen move from session 3 to session 2. Toying with the idea of having several prefined session - meaning that session 1 is alway 3.4, session 2 is always sdsf, etc. But sometimes I want to PF9 betwwen say session 1 and session 2, and other times I want to PF9 between session 3 and session 4. Changing the current session is easy. How do you change the "-" session? Thanks

  2. I apologize for the long delay in response to your comment, I've been away from these blogs much too long. But here's how it's done.

    If session 1 is 3.4, session 2 is SDSF, and session 3 is an EDIT file. Assuming F9 is using *2 and -1 and you want it to be *2 and -3....

    From *2 (current screen) type the number 3 on the command line and press F9. This makes the current session *3 and the F9 session becomes -2.

    Pressing F9 makes it *2 and -3.

    You actually only change the current screen and the - screen is always where you came from.

    Thanks for the comment and I will try to be more diligent in following up in the future.

  3. Really a good one. I am going to use it now, Thanks.

  4. Nice one ,,More helpful

  5. I've been away MVS for 10+ years and now I'm back. It is good you got this post and its easier to have multiple ISPF sessions which we had from my past life and its still there.
    Thank you very much for sharing this to the world !