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

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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?

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.


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

31 comment

    1. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.


    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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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!

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

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. If you only move the white bar then it will switch the dock and menu but if you move the blue it will switch screensIf you only move the white bar then it will switch the dock and menu but if you move the blue it will switch screens

  9. 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.

  10. I need a piece of software that enebles me to combine extended desktop AND mirroring:
    I want to project the image on my Cintiq to a projector (mirror) but put my tools on my iMac (extended desktop). Can anyone help? Thanks a lot!

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