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How to Move the Dock to a Another Monitor in OS X El Capitan

Posted by Jim Tanous on June 23, 2019

We here at TechJunkie have previously discussed how Mac users can hide the menu bar in OS X El Capitan, but a commenter on that article was also curious about how users can move the dock to a second monitor. Moving the dock to a second display has been possible on Mac OS X for many years, but the changes to the dock and menu bar in recent versions of the Mac OS X make it worthy of another look.

So, if you’re new to macOS or just brushing up on your Mac skills, here’s how to move your dock and configure your primary display in OS X El Capitan. Note that Mac OS X is now just called macOS, but the terms Mac OS X and macOS can be used interchangeably.

There are many different multi-monitor configurations supported by Mac OS X, and while the steps discussed here will focus on a dual-display configuration, they can be applied equally to other setups. That said, our example setup for this tip is a Mac with two external displays, with the display on the right configured as the primary display and the display on the left is set as the secondary display.

mac os x second monitor
Starting with OS X 10.9 Mavericks, OS X will show the menu bar by default on all displays (prior to Mavericks the menu bar only appeared on the primary display), but the default location of your dock and the appearance of desktop icons (if enabled) will tell you which monitor is currently configured as your primary display.

To change this up — for example, if you wanted the monitor on the left to be your primary display, follow these instructions:

1. Go to System Preferences

2. Then click on Displays

3. Next, click on the Arrangement tab.

The “Arrangements” tab will show you the layout and relative resolution of all monitors currently connected to your Mac, including the built-in display on a MacBook (i.e., the laptop monitor itself) with each monitor represented by a blue rectangle icon.

os x display arrangement
One of the display icons will have a white bar at the top, representing the menu bar. This depiction is a holdover from older versions of OS X which did not display the menu bar on all monitors, but it helps us identify which monitor is currently set as the primary display.

If you’re connecting many displays to your Mac for the first time and you aren’t sure which icon in System Preferences corresponds to which physical monitor on your desk, simply click and hold on one of the icons and a red border will appear around the monitor it represents.

mac os x identify display
While not directly related to this tip, once you’ve identified all of your Mac’s displays, you can click in the blue area of any display icon and drag and drop it in the appropriate relative position to rearrange your virtual display configuration to match the actual layout of your physical monitors.

Continuing our example, to set the monitor on the left as the primary display, click and hold on the white bar at the top of the right icon and drag and drop it on the left icon.

mac os x move menu bar
When you release the white bar on the left display icon, all of your displays will briefly dim to black. When the desktop reappears, your new monitor — in our example, the one on the left — will now contain the dock, active application windows, and any desktop icons.

new primary display second monitor mac
If you don’t like this new arrangement, you can always revert to having the right monitor configured as your primary display by heading back to System Preferences and dragging the white bar back to the desired monitor icon. Other than the brief period in which the displays dim, your changes each time will take effect immediately so there’s no need to reboot or log out in order to see your multi-monitor Mac setup configured with a new primary display.

Move Only the Dock to Another Monitor

Starting with OS X 10.10 Yosemite, there’s a new method for moving just the dock to another display without making changes to your primary display in System Preferences. To try it, simply move your mouse or trackpad cursor to the very bottom of the display where you want your dock to appear and hold it there.

After a brief moment, the dock will slide down and out of sight on your primary display and then slide up into view on your other display.

move dock second display os x
As you can see in the screenshot above, our example Mac now has only the dock on the left monitor, while the desktop icons and active windows associated with your primary display configuration remain on the right monitor.

Once the dock is located on your desired monitor, you can easily reposition the dock to the left, right, or default bottom of the screen as desired.

If you’re a Mac user and found this article useful, you might want to check out How to Copy and Save Images from Safari on the Mac.

Do you have two or more monitors on your Mac running OS X El Capitan? If so, have you changed the dock from one display to another? Please tell us about your experiences with this process in the comments below?

7 thoughts on “How to Move the Dock to a Another Monitor in OS X El Capitan”

Christina Kinzer says:
This process worked perfectly for me! Thank you!
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Morten V. Berg says:
Is there anyway to have the dock on left side of main screen even when secondary monitor is on the left ?
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Zigy says:
Well what the mouse method dock repositioning did not mentioned is that you need to arrange display next to (left or right) main display(white top bar in the display settings) so if you have 3 display one on top of your MBP and one left to it. Only to left and right side display you can move the dock. Hope it helps, and they update this article, which is helpful 🙂
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Jen Davies says:
I’m having the same problem. Also, is there any way for chrome to automatically resize to the smaller window if you move a tab?
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Komrad says:
This doesn’t work on macOS where I have 2 external displays and a macbook display. I want the dock to be on one of the external displays. Is this possible?
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Komrad says:
thank you for the tip
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George Saprito says:
My only problem with the dock is the feature where it moves to the other monitor inadvertently. The only time I intentionally move the dock to another monitor is when my mouse accidentally ends up on the other monitor’s area that causes it to go to the other monitor. And then the hate begins. Trying to intentionally get the dock back to where I want it is the most frustrating ten minutes of my life. And by the time I’m done messing with it, I’ve forgotten what I really wanted to do when the whole debacle began.
I would love Apple to give us an option to select for keeping the dock on the primary monitor. That would solve my issue.
#thestruggleisreal #firstworldproblems
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sarah says:
Thank you for this!! I have this same issue! It’s killing me…. Glad I’m not alone!
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