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.

  • 2
    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. Commented Dec 29, 2017 at 21:10
  • 7
    There are 2 ways to accidentally move the dock to the other desktop. Either because one monitor activates/deactivates and so the dock transports itself to what it perceives as the only remaining screen. Second, the overhang area on your vertically stacked monitors has different width/height; it catches your cursor, thus summoning the dock to that screen. To move it back, put focus on desktop. Find the overhang area from one monitor to the other. Place your cursor on that overhang and scroll down, the cursor should remain in place as you move. The dock should transport itself to that monitor. Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 18:22
  • 4
    @EricLeschinski, thanks for the input. Mr Rabbit has a more thorough explanation: "You can summon the Dock on a different display by moving the cursor to the bottom of the desired display" :-) Please, upvote that. Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 5:13
  • 2
    It is 2023, and this glitch is still happening 😂 It happens when you move cursor to the bottom of the screen on an active monitor. So my solution was to move cursor back to large monitor. And I always try to avoid moving my cursor to the place which summons the dock. But, Sometimes doc does not want to move back 🤷🏻‍♂️, then only solution is to open preferences, and move it manually😡
    – yerassyl
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 14:28

7 Answers 7


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.

  • 7
    This still works on macos Big Sur 11.4 But it's so flakey for me. I click on the screen I want it to appear on and then I literally need to move my cursor up and down in the bottom spot, and move to different areas at the bottom of screen before it suddenly works. Ridiculous! Commented May 28, 2021 at 15:45
  • 1
    This does not work if position on screen is set to Left (also moving mouse to the left as it works when position set to Bottom does not work). My primary screen is on my mac, but Dock is on one of the external screens if position is set to left. I would expect the Position to apply to the primary screen, not to the arrangement of the multiple screens.
    – trainoasis
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 7:45
  • 3
    Awesome. Such an easy fix.
    – stevieb
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 16:58
  • 10
    OMG, this has been a huge annoyance for me. I cannot thank you enough! Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 17:00
  • I was hoping to find a solution to prevent this from happening again. It occurred to me a few times in the past and I always struggled to remember what I had to do to get it back where I want it. I wish there was a setting that let me glue it down.
    – tripleee
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 13:00

If you can't drag the mouse down due to stacked monitors, or due to some other resolution differences between monitors. Go to System Preferences → Dock → Position on screen → click Left, and the dock will move back to the primary monitor.

Then you can go to the Bottom screen and follow the steps to summon the Dock, and it will return there.


Apple didn't account for the over/under monitor configuration, the overhang catches your cursor and summons the dock. In this case, the switching is constant and annoying.

One workaround is to put the dock on the side of the monitor, which will prevent the summon when the overlap catches your cursor.

  • 5
    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. Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 15:08
  • 3
    I actually figured out a way to get this to work with under/over config. For the bottom monitor you can just move the cursor down to the bottom of the screen (and move the cursor up and down) as prescribed above. For the top monitor, if you move your cursor to the right corner you can't go 'down' to the bottom monitor. So you can move the cursor up and down there and run it into the bottom of the screen and the dock will move up to the upper monitor! :)
    – trebek1
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 17:46
  • @trebek1 Good gracious, how ridiculous. That works, thank you. How Apple has managed to deceive so many people about its UI being good when they commit innumerable small atrocities like this is beyond me. The biggest evil is the top-screen menu bar nonsense - maybe it made sense (or at least no significant difference) when screens were > < that big, but now it defies all good design practice. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 12:03

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.

  • "your picture is worth a thousand words" Commented May 30, 2023 at 18:15

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.

  • 5
    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. Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 5:18
  • 1
    @Geradlus_RU My monitors are vertically stacked with primary on the bottom, and the Dock on the bottom. But sometimes the Dock moves to the bottom of the top monitor which is weird. I’m sure it’s not supposed to do that but it happens.
    – Nate
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 17:48
  • Really help. Actually speaking that's moving down the mouse, not dragging down. thks. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 3:04
  • If there's nowhere to block the cursor moving down from the top screen to the bottom - if they're the same size, you can just add a small misalignment precisely to trigger this on. If the top one is smaller than the bottom... looks like you're out of luck. Yay Apple. Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 12:06

To prevent this from happening type the following in Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.Dock position-immutable -bool yes; killall Dock

The Dock will stop moving.

The above domain and key was removed by Apple:

Apple has removed this position-immutable key from the defaults configuration because it was producing high call-volumes at IT helpdesk. Users would disable themselves by locking their Dock onto a phantom unreachable monitor. So now this command has no effect. You can verify this with command: defaults read | grep "Dock" which will report no such such key. Read more with man defaults and defaults -help.

  • 4
    This looks like it should work, but unfortunately it doesn't.
    – Jason Sims
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 21:24
  • 9
    nope, doesn’t work on mojave.
    – georgexsh
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 4:06
  • 3
    Bummer -- that's a very annoying behavior.
    – Camden S.
    Commented Feb 18, 2020 at 18:19
  • 4
    Funny how they could disable the workaround so quickly but couldn't just enable the behavior that people wanted in the first place.
    – Deem
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 17:11
  • 6
    "Users would disable themselves by locking their Dock onto a phantom unreachable monitor" - I can't understand why no one in Apple thought about simple option "Show Dock only on main display". Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 14:02

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.

  • These are helpful ways to change your workflow to suit the macos limitation
    – David Cook
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 1:56

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