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

We here at TechJunkie have previously discussed how Mac users can hide the menu bar in OS X El Capitan, but what if you want to 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.

How to Move the Mac Dock to Another Monitor

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 to other setups as well.

For this article, our setup is a Mac with two external displays. The display on the right is configured as the primary display and the display on the left is set as the secondary display.

Set Your Primary 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, but the default location of your dock and the appearance of desktop icons will tell you which monitor is currently configured as your primary display.

To change this up, 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
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 position to arrange your virtual display to match the actual layout of your physical monitors.

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 changes.

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.

Learn More

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?

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

Avatar Matthias says:
This helped me so much – Thank you
Avatar Randy says:
How do I stop the Mac from starting w one of my other displays having the control bar? At times I cannot control the Mac when it Ends up this way. Eventually I can get a cursor to drag the control bar over to the Mac, but this can be quite stressful when struggling w this and church is about to start…
Avatar Martijn says:
Same here, it was driving me nuts. Multiple times a day I had to open Display prefs to move it back to my preferred screen. Thanks for the help. Would love to have a lock for the launchbar.
Avatar Mark K. says:
I also came to this thread because the dock was “moving itself” to the external monitor, used with a MacBook Pro (OS 10.14.6). Probably, my “over/under” arrangement of Cinema display above MacBook display is more susceptible than a side-by-side arrangement. I would like to be able to “lock” the dock to the MacBook. I am able to get it to return to the MacBook, but only by moving pointer to the extreme bottom of the screen. My initial attempts may not have been to a low enough portion of the screen.
Avatar Nicholas says:
doesn’t work in Mojave
Avatar Allie says:
I also want to be able to lock the dock on one screen. With a top/bottom arrangement my dock is CONSTANTLY jumping to my top monitor and I want it locked on the bottom. I’ve read a ton of threads already though and haven’t found any solutions besides manually going to the display settings over and over to change it back. Very frustrating… =/
Avatar Christina Kinzer says:
This process worked perfectly for me! Thank you!
Avatar 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 ?
Avatar 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 :)
Avatar 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?
Avatar 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?
Avatar Komrad says:
thank you for the tip
Avatar 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
Avatar sarah says:
Thank you for this!! I have this same issue! It’s killing me…. Glad I’m not alone!
Avatar Holley says:
I stumbled on a faster way to get it back–right click on a clear part of the dock (like next to a divider bar) and select “dock preferences.” When I changed the “position on screen” to “right” and then back to “bottom,” it automatically switched it back to my main monitor. Hope this helps!

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