I am using OS X 10.9. I am unable to drag Desktops from one screen to another, I am only able to switch arrangements on the screen that its on.

Here are my Mission Control settings

EDIT: Very strange, after a reboot the functionality seems to be working now without me making any changes.

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  • @Deesbek Sorry I should have included it in the post rather than just the tags, Im using Mavericks (10.9.1)
    – Imran
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 23:59

3 Answers 3


You can only move non-active desktops between screens.

If the desktop you want to move is the only desktop on the screen, then create another desktop, make that the active desktop, and then drag the non-active desktop.

  • I have two screens side by side in landscape orientation, both same size and resolution.
    – Imran
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 23:19
  • 3
    Hmm. Trying again now, it appears my answer is either inaccurate or out of date: you CAN 'tear' a desktop off the upper rail, but only if it's not the currently active desktop. I'll edit it. Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 20:27
  • 1
    Great, finally I can move the desktops to other displays. Indeed I only need to make another desktop active on a screen, to be able to drag it to another scree. My issue was when I unplug my mac from my other 2 displays, then sometimes when I plug it back I'd get the 2 displays swapped, while I have specific apps open on each of them.
    – Bogdan
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 9:08
  • @Bogdan The displays remember which port they were pugged in to on your Mac. If you swap the cables, it will swap the displays.
    – spex
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 13:46
  • 1
    Also note that fullscreen apps are not considered as an active desktop. I was initially confused by that.
    – varogen
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 17:52

Too late for the OP, but for future reference, my issue with this was resolved as suggested by Wes Campaigne above. Sometimes my Mac (laptop + two external monitors) wakes up with the desktops on the wrong monitors. I could not understand why I was unable to move them back to the right monitor - they would just hit the edge of the monitor and I could not drag them any further. The solution turned out to be to create a fresh desktop on the monitor in question, then make the fresh one the active one. Upon starting Mission Control again, I was able to drag my desired desktop to any monitor, and then make it active again.

  • 5
    "make the fresh one the active one" - Thanks! That was the key for me... didn't realize that you can't drag the active screen/desktop to another monitor.
    – JDB
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 2:48

There is a maximum number of spaces you can have per display. I don't know if this number is determined by the resolution of your display, by memory, or if it is arbitrarily assigned. For me, I have two HDMI displays, and I can have 16 spaces per display.

Is it possible that you have reached the maximum number of spaces for the destination display (the display you are dragging the new desktop to?

Are you able to add new spaces to the destination display by clicking on the + icon when you hover at the top right edge of the display?

  • I wasn't aware the was a maximum, but I highly doubt I exceeded it, in total I had about 5 screens.
    – Imran
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 23:18
  • 1
    Are you sure it is 17? I just tested it and can only have 16 in OS X 10.7.5
    – Deesbek
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 23:22
  • 1
    Yes... you are right.. 16. I was unable to create the 17th. 16 seems like an un-arbitrary number, so I retract that statement. Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 23:43

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