I have a larger, external monitor connected to my MacBook Pro and have arranged it such that the dock is in the external monitor (via System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement, by dragging the white bar to the larger screen). This works fine, except for the fact that every now and then, the dock will suddenly shift back to my MacBook screen, but when I open up Displays to change this back, the white bar is still on the external monitor. So I have to drag it to the smaller screen, and then drag it back to the external monitor.

It's a minor issue, obviously, but I've noticed that it has been happening more and more frequently and it's getting quite annoying. Perhaps there's something I've been doing unintentionally for this to happen?

I'm using Mavericks, 10.9.5.

  • This is a glitch in MacOS that has existed for quite a while. I would contact Apple and see if they can add a "lock dock" command in the Dock Preferences. – Melvin Jefferson Dec 29 '17 at 21:10

You can summon the Dock on a different display by moving the cursor to the bottom of the desired display, and then continuing moving down. It may be possible that this is occurring when you inadvertently perform that action.

I answered a similar question: cmd-tab behavior on Mavericks with multiple displays.

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    Cool. I didn't know, every time it moved I will change it with System Preferences -> Display -> Arrangement. – Fernando Gonzalez Sanchez Mar 22 at 15:59
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    WOW I am so glad I finally found this lol. I could never figure out the trick. I would move to the bottom, click, move up and down, and sometimes it would appear lol – quemeful Apr 10 at 15:10

if you have problems dragging the mouse due to resolution differences between monitors. Go to System Preferences > Dock > "Position on screen:" click "Left" and the doc will move back to the main monitor. You can then click "Bottom" and the doc will move to the bottom.


(I wanted to add this comment to @Mr Rabbit's answer, but I can't as I don't have the requisite 50 points, so adding it here:)

The action that summons the dock to the opposite monitor is not very intuitive for me. This is what worked for me.

  1. Don't hold the mouse button down. (When people say "drag" the mouse, that usually implies with the mouse button held down.)

  2. The target area of the cursor needs to be at the bottom area of the monitor which doesn't currently have the dock at a place where the cursor can't move further down, i.e. this doesn't work on vertically stacked monitors along the area where the cursor can cross between screens.

  3. Once the cursor is "blocked", pause a sec, then continue the motion downward. The dock will be "summoned" to this monitor from the other monitor. This works for vertically stacked monitors as long as there is some place where the cursor is "blocked". If not, the cursor will just move to the other monitor since it is not "blocked". If you have identical resolution monitors, this will probably not work per @Geraldus_US's comment below. In that case you probably need to either left dock or right dock per @Geraldus_US. Alternatively, unplug the auxiliary monitor and the dock will switch to the main monitor.

I don't see how anyone would find these motions to be intuitive. How about a simple right-click option to "move Dock to this monitor"?

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    I want to mention, that if you have vertical alignment where active monitor is above secondary the case than you have to move dock to left or right side to make it appear on primary monitor, otherwise it will always appear on bottom monitor. However, if your primary display is located below secondary dock appears at bottom automatically. Looks like misfeature, or requires additional tweaks. – Geradlus_RU Jan 10 '16 at 5:18

Obviously, Apple didn't account for over/under monitor configurations. In this case, the switching is constant and annoying.

I suppose that they assume you will put the dock on the side of the monitor, but I can't stand that config.

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    I can't stand it either, but this issue has annoyed me to the point of accepting one annoyance to escape the other. It's even more annoying because it seems the solution of having the dock always present on the screen the mouse pointer is on is a simple and logical design. – prototypical Apr 17 '16 at 15:08

In Mac OS, the Dock shifts to that monitor where you made a downward gesture at the bottom (or where the dock is usually positioned). That is, if you moved your mouse pointer further in that direction (as if going out of screen), it's an indication that you are looking for the dock. So Mac brings the dock there!

Look at the diagram below (yellow block is your monitor):

Mouse movement at bottom of screen

When cursor is blocked at bottom, moving the pointer further down brings the dock on that monitor. Can't use the words scrolling or dragging as you don't need to click/hold or use 2 fingers. It's just a normal mouse move.

So the cause: Probably you are someone like me who likes to leave the cursor at the bottom of the screen on one monitor while watching movie or keyboard-only coding/development, and then accidentally swipes/moves down the mouse/trackpad. Happens with me all the time.

Update: I just noticed that on the trackpad, it's not just a quick swipe.
You have to swipe-down and hold on the track pad. It does nothing when you lift your finger quickly like a normal swipe gesture.


I also found this 'feature' annoying as you expect the Dock to be on one screen then you accidentally move the mouse to the bottom of the second screen and the Dock moves across. The easiest way to get it back is to move the mouse to the bottom of the screen you want the dock on. Sometimes you have to move it up then back down to get it to move.

Personally I found two options that helped me with this:

  1. At work I have my external monitor on a stand that sits behind my MacBook and arrange the screens so that the external monitor is just higher than my Macbook Screen then in the settings move the screen layout so they sit on top of each other. In this layout only one screen has a bottom as the external monitor is an extension to the Macbook Screen, thus stopping the Dock from moving. This layout also saves on desk space if you have a narrow desk.

  2. At home I use a monitor side by side but set the dock to auto hide, then when I need to get to the Dock I just scroll down to the bottom of whatever screen my mouse is on to get the Dock. Because the Dock is always hidden and comes on when I want it I don't seem to find it annoying like I do when it is fixed at the bottom of one screen.

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protected by Community Jul 4 '16 at 3:32

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