How to Resize an Off Screen Window in Mac OS X

OS X, particularly recent versions of the operating system, do a good job of corralling application windows by either not allowing a user to resize a window beyond the boundaries of the screen or by automatically snapping a window to a second display for those with multi-monitor setups. But sometimes — due to errors, bugs, or when disconnecting an external monitor — an application window can get “stuck” partially or completely outside of the visible area of the Mac’s display, and getting it back can seem impossible. Thankfully, there’s a quick and easy step you can take to automatically fix an off screen window in Mac OS X, and it’s called Zoom.
The Zoom function has long been present in OS X, and it’s normally accessed by clicking the green button in the top-left portion of a window (note, however, that in OS X Yosemite the green Zoom button now takes an application into full screen mode, but you can still use the Zoom function by holding the Option key while clicking).

os x window stuck off screen

This Safari window is stuck off screen, with its zoom button inaccessible.


If you can see the green zoom button, it’s the best way to bring the missing portions of your OS X application window back into view. But what if it’s the top of the window that’s off screen, and you can’t see the zoom button at all? In that case, you can achieve the same result via an option in the menu bar.
Simply select your desired application to make it active by click on its icon in the Dock (you should see the application’s name in the top-left corner of your OS X Menu Bar, next to the Apple logo). Then, also in the Menu Bar, click the word Window and then Zoom. If you have multiple windows open in the same application, you can also select Zoom All to bring them all to the correct position at once.
os x menu bar window zoom
As you can likely guess from its name, this has the exact same effect as the green zoom button, and your partially missing window or windows will now be automatically repositioned and resized to fit your current monitor. So the next time you unplug your external monitor and end up with a full or partial off screen window, don’t panic. Just remember Window > Zoom to bring your missing application windows back.

12 thoughts on “How to Resize an Off Screen Window in Mac OS X”

Avatar Mon says:
Quick & to the point – thank YOU!
Avatar Derek Brooks says:
When the Window/zoom menu is not available in a given app, you can solve this by temporarily changing the resolution
From the Apple Menu select System Preferences
Choose Display preferences and check the Scaled box next to Resolution to show other available resolutions
Select a smaller size resolution and notice the windows all move around and become scaled
Now go back and select the normal resolution, exit the preference window and your lost window should be back in view.
If you have multiple monitors you may have to do this for both displays in system preferences.
Avatar Doug Simpson says:
The app with which I have a problem is Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 Editor. The left-hand border of the page is missing and there is no way I’ve been able to drag it back. There is no zoom button in the window menu. I have a Mac and a Thunderbolt second monitor. I tried reducing the resolution as above on the Thunderbolt but this just made the app. page bigger and didn’t resolve the problem when I reverted to the original resolution. I’m stumped!
Avatar Andrew Eagle says:
Ok, my pet peeve with this and other so-called answers. What if your program doesn’t have a Zoom option? The bottom gets cut off still. What’s the fix for that? Why is that never addressed?
This is despite changes in display, the bottom of the window gets cut off AND the window will not resize.
Avatar sdipietr says:
Thanks – perfect. Was driving me nuts.
Avatar Anderson Lavor says:
didnt work for me, filezilla does not have a menu option :(
what I did was enter the application in full screen, close it (cmd q) then reopen it, it came back in screen.
Avatar erikpmp says:
I had the same problem with Filezilla. There is no Window menu item in Filezilla. But your solution worked. Thanks.
Avatar Rob Herold says:
Great Tip for Mac users!
Avatar BaseballFan1984 says:
Thanks! Always have this problem opening excel files. Saved me so much grief!
Avatar neilmsmith says:
Thanks! This worked for me! Although it seems when there is a program with multiple windows off screen it will work for the first but not the second. I fixed the second one by just starting to resize it on the bottom and it just sort of pops into place.
Avatar Drigo says:
This is useless when you dont have the Windows – Zoom option in different applicaitons :/ I reinstalled the software and still having the same issue.
Avatar Jeff McMahon says:
I was searching everywhere to find out how to find the zoom function post Yosemite. Hold down the option key. Thank you!
Avatar rekkid says:
thanks for the tip! I’ve been having this problem since upgrading to Yosemite. It’s like any 2nd window that gets spawned goes off screen. I have that probably a lot in Adobe’s open file dialogs/windows. And just now when opening an 2nd project in Audacity. Often I cant access critical elements. Your zoom trick is very helpful. I’ll remember this
Avatar Alfa84 says:
I am new to Mac. I have a 13″ Mac 2011 (OS X Yosemite) using Photoshop CS6 with an external monitor (Dell 2407). When using Photoshop when I need to retrieve a file – it is that window that will partially open outside of the Dell monitor. Roughly 40% of the upper half of the window will be off the screen – How does one reposition that issue ?!
Avatar Kouri says:
I’ve been having a similar problem, and finally found the solution. Use Mission Control (or Exposé…whatever it’s called now) via the F3 button to show all open windows. While it’s small, drag it to your other monitor and then select it to make it your active window. When it enlarges, it will resize for the new monitor size. Now you can grab the top bar and drag it back to the monitor you want to work on. Frustrating that you have to go through the process, but at least it works.
Avatar Georgiy Slobodenyuk says:
Thanks!

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