Dual Displays

How to Move the Dock from One Monitor to Another on a Mac

Multiple Mac Monitors

I’ve recently started using multiple monitors. Again.
And I’ve completely forgotten how to move the dock from one monitor to another. Again.
So now I am aggravated with myself and highly embarrassed. Again.
Not to mention that I’m going to have to look it up again. Again.

Why does this always seem to happen to me? Can’t it just be like riding a bike? What kind of trauma did I experience as a young multi-monitored programmer/developer/musician/gamer-wannabe that would cause me to block out a simple Mac Dock moving procedure? The answer to this question is better suited for a therapy blog, so I’ll spare the details here. But what I will share is the answer to the question that likely landed you upon this blog post in the first place:

“How do I move the dock from one monitor to another on a Mac?”

It’s frustratingly simple, to be honest…

Here’s the simple…

  • With multiple display monitors fired up, move your mouse pointer to a non-active screen. You can tell which of your displays are inactive because the menu bar at the top of the screen will be greyed out.
  • Now slide your cursor to the bottom of said screen and voila! The dock should appear on the new screen while it simultaneously disappears from the old.

Here’s the frustratingly…

  • Go back to the original screen and try moving your cursor to the bottom. What happens? Nothing?! The dock doesn’t move back?! Here’s what I think might be happening… Though the dock magically appears on the new screen, the display itself isn’t actually made active until an event occurs (such as clicking on a window or the desktop).
  • Go ahead and click somewhere on the inactive display and notice the menu bar losing its lonely-inactive-greyness and springing to life in all its bright-active-shininess. Now you may go back to the original monitor (which will be inactive) and execute the mouse-at-the-bottom trick to move the dock back over once again.

At least that’s how it works for me. Always has. But what I find interesting is that apparently not everyone experiences this “inactive” phenomenon. They can dock hop with the greatest of ease — no senseless clicking or eyes darting about looking for the active window. (Perhaps this contributes to my selective memory on the subject.) Is it a Preferences issue? Maybe left/right vs. bottom dock placement? Possibly the virtual arrangement position of the displays? Or that I have 17 monitors encircling me like a Neil Peart drum kit?

Either way, I’m very interested in hearing about your own dock moving experiences. Have you ever run into quirks or am I the only one? Perhaps you have some deeper insight or a few tricks up your sleeve? If so, let me know!


Note:
I don’t really have 17 monitors, that’d be just plain silly! Unless that’s your thing – no judgment here. But if you feel like testing your dock hopping mettle with all the unused displays stuffed in your closets and crawl spaces, you might need several of these and a few of these. Certainly plenty of ☕️. And if you do embark upon a daisy chain adventure, let us know how it works out!

No seriously, please do…

Related: How to Move Notifications from One Monitor to Another on a Mac

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OWC Mark C
the authorOWC Mark C
Content Marketing Manager
A creative by nature, Mark is a writer, programmer, web developer, musician, culinary craftsman, and interpersonal artisan. He loves the outdoors because greenspace is to the soul as whitespace is to the written word. He does not like Diophantine geometry or mosquitos. Most everything else is okay. Oh yeah, he is also the managing editor of the Rocket Yard blog.

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42 Comments

  • Okay I finally found a solution that works reliably. The move the mouse to the bottom edge/hover/swipe never or rarely worked for me. Very frustrating and for so long!

    Thank you for writing this blog. I felt I was the only one with this issue, so never put the time in to find a solution.

    Here is the what worked for me:
    Settings > Display > drag the menu bar to your external display. The system refreshed the display and now moving the pointer to the bottom edge works 100% of the time, perfectly activating the dock on either screen as expected.

    My system configuration:
    macOS Catalina
    Misson Control: (checked) Displays have separate Spaces
    MacBook Pro 2018 (15″)
    DELL U27187Q external monitor
    display arrangement is DELL is above and centered on top of MacBook display

  • I have the exact same experience, only a single MacBook Pro and a single external monitor. But I am never quite sure how or why or when I can get the dock to move to the monitor I want.

    The best solution at this point I am thinking would be have the dock on all screens all the time.

  • After messing with it a bit, I seems this explanation provides the most consistent results. “The rule is that by moving the cursor 1″ below the bottom of the given display, the dock will then move.” and “When you move the cursor to bottom of the display, it doesn’t actually “move” below the bottom of the display. However, Mac OSX continues tracking the cursor movement, and if that movement goes 1″ below the bottom of the screen, then the Dock will switch to that display….” From the comments in this post: https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/193589/move-dock-between-displays-keyboard-shortcut-or-keep-on-both-displays

  • Thank you!! And thank you for reflecting EXACTLY how I feel every time this happens to me and I have to look it up – AGAIN!!

  • Thank you. Everyone. I couldn’t focus because my dock was in the wrong place. Also ~Mark – this was a well written and fun tutorial. Appreciate it!

  • It does work if you have the Dock in the bottom position on the active monitor. This will add an extra slice of real estate for me in the larger monitor when I am formatting newsletters. Nifty! Thanks, Mark!

  • Super helpful, thanks! For months, my dock has been moving back and forth without me being able to figure out how I did it or how to move it back. Now I can!

  • This had frustrated me for years, until I found the answer elsewhere. Sometimes moving the mouse to the bottom of a screen would cause the taskbar to appear on that screen, sometimes not.

    The answer is simple – move the mouse to the bottom of the screen…but continue to drag it downwards even though the mouse pointer has stopped at the bottom. The taskbar follows every time.

    (Obviously this won’t work for screens on top of others, where continuing to drag downwards just moves the pointer into the lower screen.)

  • What worked for me is to right click on the dock itself (the line between the docked icons and the quick launch section) and select “Dock Preferences” and go to “Position on Screen” and select one of the options (either Bottom, left or right) and then it moved the Dock back to my main screen as I wanted again.

    • If you disable Mission Control-> Dispkays have separate spaces, you will only have a Dock on your Main display with Menubar; unless you’re a side Dock user, in which case it will land On the screen at the furthest edge of the totality of the Desktop area.

      • Wow thats so stupid….That means I cannot have seperate spaces (so for example; i cant have a fullscreen video playing on mys econd screen AND keep the dock where its SUPPOSED to be) and also have the dock stay i place….why hasnt apple understood that I want control over this :(?

        I want to be able to have a video playing fullscreen without my other screens going black (as its seen as 1 space)

        ALSO i want the dock to just stY WHERE ITS AT…MEH

        • Depending on the app you’re using, you can zoom (Option-click the green control button) the Video display window to the “old” full screen mode; this will leave other screens visible and can host the Dock; if the menubar is on your video display, you can choose to hide it (keystroke possible) along with hiding the Dock, if desired. Other great utilities like CleanSlate will strip your Desktop images with a toggle, so you can Black your active displays, but still see windows/apps/Desktop. Another great app is LightsOut, for aiding ambient video environments without losing your other displays. One more is ScreenFocus, which will automatically dim displays not in focus to a user-selectable level. But, yes, Apple has lost the story on what Fullscreen should be.

  • Your suggestions in the “Here’s the frustratingly…” section worked like a charm. Thanks. And getting to the answer was actually enjoyable and funny. A def bonus.

  • I don’t have any problem with this; the Dock is always available on whatever display my cursor is located (the Dock isn’t always visible, because I have “Automatically hide and show the Dock” checked in System Preferences, but it’s present on any display when I move the cursor to it).

    My method is: in System Preferences -> Mission Control I check “Displays have separate Spaces.” With this setting, the Menu Bar and the Dock are always there, on any display. I don’t have to jump through any hoops to try to “move” them around.

    I’m currently using HIgh Sierra v10.13.6, I haven’t moved to Mojave, in case this makes a difference. I guess when I finally go to Mojave I’ll find out (right now I have software and hardware compatibility issues preventing the move).

    Hope this helps.

  • I have two monitors, dock at the bottom, and hidden, automatically hide and show, and when I go to the bottom of any screen, the dock pops up. I’ve never had to move it.

    • Ditto. But the Dock rarely makes an appearance on one of my screens, because the bottom of that screen is the top of the other screen. I can make it appear if I’m really delicate, but it just doesn’t happen on its own, and frankly, I don’t miss it there anyway.

  • Rocket Yard is better than therapy! This was driving me nuts; I tried this and it works. I was always clicking when I dragged the cursor before ad no joy.. . Happy camper!

  • I have 2 23″ Apple Cinema monitors attached to my iMac. I am looking for stands to add two more monitors to sit on top of the 23″ monitors. Any suggestions?

    • You need to investigate VESA mounts, either articulated or single-pole or wall-mount. I have six displays, 3 over 3, on three vertical VESA poles.

  • I suggest System Preferences – Mission Control. Uncheck the option for Displays have separate Spaces which requires a restart to take effect. Now you have only one menu bar and one dock and your applications can now use more than one monitor for its windows. They can even span more than one monitor. You can move the menu bar/dock to different displays using the Arrangement tab of the Displays System Preferences panel. This is in fact the way it used to be before there was Mission Control. I know because I’ve had two monitors since my Macintosh II days. (long before Mac OS X/OS X/macOS X and even Mac OS 8 or 9)

    • I have a 27″ iMac and a 27″ Thunderbolt display – and your suggestion works for me: the dock is where I want it, at the base of the iMac display.

      Thank you sir.

  • I have three screens side-by-side and am running the latest version of Mohave on a 2009 (firmware upgraded to 2010) Mac Pro. With the center screen as the active screen, I can move my cursor to the bottom of the screen and the dock appears. Without clicking on anything, I can move my cursor to either side monitor, move it down to the bottom of the screen and the dock appears.No, activation, it just appears.

    What I would like is a way to have either side monitor to NOT show the dock at all, so that when I’m working near the bottom of the screen the dock won’t pop up and get in my way.

    If anyone knows how to set that up, I’ld love to hear it! :-)

    • As posted above, if you toggle Spaces each have Menubars off, the dock will only appear on the Main display with the Menubar, or the furthest left or right display if a side Dock is selected.

  • I just tried this method and it does not work for me. The dock seems to move on its own accord for me. Sometimes on my MBP, sometimes on the external monitor, and it makes no difference which menu bar is active. I swear it was once on both monitors!

  • I find that the dock will one its own migrate to the second monitor. I have not tried your method. I move it back by right clicking on the vertical bar that separates the active programs, and selecting move to bottom. The dock them moves to the bottom of the primary screen .

  • Happens to me all the time, I don’t know why it relocates on its own??? I go to Display, click All, and then carefully mouse move the red bar from one monitor to another. I feel better knowing I’m not alone !

  • As a regular user of multiple monitors I have found the same problem. Sometimes the pointer is just ignored.

    What works every time – drag any icon on the desktop to the desired Dock position.