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Mac OS X: Move the Dock and Menu Bar To External Display

I'm using an external display with a MacBook Pro. I do not want to use the external monitor as a mirrored display. I need to move the dock and the menu bar to external monitor. How do I setup the external monitor as main display?

Tutorial details
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Root privilegesNo
RequirementsNone
Estimated completion time5m
The Dock is located at the bottom of the screen by default and the Apple menu bar is located at the top of the screen. You can connect to the external monitor using "Mini-DisplayPort to DVI Adapter" or "Mini-DisplayPort to VGA Adapter". Connect the monitor cable to the Mini-DisplayPort. You can now use the second display to create an extended desktop or mirror primary desktop.

Apple OS X moving the dock & menu bar to second display

To configure multiple monitor click on Settings i.e. "Apple Menu" > "System Preferences" :

Fig.01: Rearrange the position of the dock and menu bar

Fig.01: Rearrange the position of the dock and menu bar

Choose "Displays" > Select the "Arrangement" tab:

Fig.02: Drag the white rectangle to move the menu bar to the external display

Fig.02: Drag the white rectangle to move the menu bar to the external display

Make sure you drag the white rectangle (menu bar) to the display on right to move the menu bar to the external display (see fig.02). The display will flickers and may goes black while refreshing the arrangement.

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{ 27 comments… add one }

  • Chaos August 31, 2011, 8:50 am

    Hi,

    for the Menu u can use second bar, which brings the whole bar to the second screen.

    CL

  • A September 8, 2011, 2:02 am

    But my menu bar didn’t move, only my dock moves, did anyone else have this problem?

    • Mitra Ardron May 15, 2012, 7:24 pm

      HYes – I have this problem as well, and the answer above doesn’t handle it. I want to edit the docs on the external screen and can’t figure out how to get the Menu bar up ther.

      • Mitra Ardron May 15, 2012, 7:25 pm

        Oops – figured it out now, was reading the text not looking at the pictures.

  • rob September 19, 2011, 3:27 pm

    If the dock is pined to the bottom it will move. If you keep it at the left or your screen it will always be at left of both screens (ie: your desktop is both screens together).

    Where I wanted it was the left of the right monitor – which is actually in the “center” of the display when both monitors are viewed as one large desktop.

    Apparently I cannot do that.

  • Andrew February 26, 2012, 5:51 am

    Mate, thanks so much for this! My 2013″ mbp was running super slow in external LCD screen but ok with the laptop by itself or hooked up to the LCD whilst the laptop screen was also in use. Was annoyed that the dock was on the laptop and not on the LCD, this has now made my LCD easy to use as the main screen again! I still don’t know why my laptop is running slow if I run the LCD as the only primary screen tho.

  • Andrew February 26, 2012, 6:08 am

    Whoops i meant 2010 13″ mbp

  • Jen Greyson October 3, 2012, 3:52 pm

    THANK YOU!

    I have 3 externals with my MPB and a hengedock. Could not figure out how to move the dock once I closed the lid.

    Much thanks!

  • Joel Hirsh October 12, 2012, 11:32 pm

    It worked perfectly for me.

  • Trevor October 29, 2012, 12:49 am

    Is there a way to put the menu bar on both the external monitor and the MBP’s monitor, so I do not have to open it from just one?

    • D December 15, 2012, 11:55 pm

      I have this same question – Trevor did you find out?

      • nixCraft December 16, 2012, 5:27 am

        No. However, you can mirror the display.

  • SG December 15, 2012, 2:21 pm

    I’m a pretty savvy Mac user but couldn’t figure this one out – simple when you know the trick. Thanks very much for sharing this how to!

  • Andre April 8, 2013, 4:09 am

    this might come in handy as well: http://andrebaumeier.github.io/osx-dock-location/

    it reacts on changing displays and offers you to switch the dock position

  • Prabin May 27, 2013, 2:26 am

    Thanks a lot man. I didn’t know it was that simple.

  • Andy June 4, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Brilliantly simple – but as per usual, not that obvious. Thanks a bunch for revealing that one :)

  • Phill July 15, 2013, 2:35 am

    Hi,

    Just Brilliant ! Thanks.

    Phill

  • gabe L September 17, 2013, 12:59 am

    thanks so much i looked every were and no one knew

  • Vincent October 3, 2013, 8:27 am

    too bad this does not work when the dock is positioned left.
    apparently Apple thought it should be totally left, instead of on the screen I want.
    I consider this a bug.

  • Raphael October 19, 2013, 3:45 pm

    Is there a key command to do this move?

    • Rafael March 6, 2015, 10:11 pm

      I’ve been searching for a solution for years. I tried Automator, but it won’t do. Have you find a solution? your message was posted in 2013.

  • Janine P. June 13, 2014, 2:15 pm

    You just made my freakin day. This has been bugging me for so long. Thanks!

  • Mariel October 9, 2014, 4:07 pm

    This is so incredibly frustrating. Native PC user here, and I don’t know how mac users can stand having so little control over their work environment.

    I’m trying to use Photoshop on a Cintiq as a separate screen, but it’s such a pain to have to switch monitors to open a file or do anything else on the menu bar. So I followed the above steps… but instead of just moving the menu bar, it switched both displays! Now my cintiq pen moves the mouse on my original screen instead of on the cintiq. I have scoured the internet and cannot find any way to ONLY move the menu bar to the other screen instead of switching them completely.

    This is such godawful UI design that as a designer, it makes me a little sick. How can anyone stand it? How did an OS so rigid and badly designed become so popular? Why, oh why, won’t our IT guy let me move this beautiful monitor to my PC instead of shackling it to this crippled mess of a mac?

    The mind boggles.

    • Rafael March 6, 2015, 10:10 pm

      Can you do that on Windows? Because if so I may move over to Windows. This has been a problem I have for years with my Wacom Cintiq, I keep moving from one screen to another one depending on the job I am doing. It’s been a pain to go manually in the System preferences.

  • Mariel October 9, 2014, 4:10 pm

    Oh, and lest someone suggest mirroring the screens so they both have the same image, I tried that. It just made it so that the cintiq pen didn’t move the mouse at all because the cintiq monitor was now just copying the original.

    Awful. Just awful.

    • Burton Ernie February 22, 2015, 7:03 pm

      anyone have a tissue here for Mariel ?

  • Arun August 16, 2015, 12:58 am

    Thanks!

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