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I have my Retina Macbook Pro connected to a ASUS 2560x1440 display via the HDMI port. I keep the laptop lid closed so the monitor is the only display in use.

When I sleep my computer (via hot corners if it matters) and wake it back up, all the windows are resized and in the upper left hand corner. My assumption is that it is resizing and repositioning them for the built in display. Is there a way to prevent this from happening so I don't have to resize and move all my windows when I use the computer again?

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    I've noticed this happen when the display sleeps, or turns itself off due to loss of signal. Which happens when the Mac sleeps. If you could somehow keep the display 'ON' I bet the Mac wouldn't see it as being removed and leave the windows there.
    – zevlag
    Apr 7, 2015 at 19:14
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    I have this problem, too. It's caused by the ASUS monitor shutting off after the display goes to sleep, and incorrectly signaling on the connection (to the Mac) that it is no longer there. The Mac then (incorrectly, IMHO; it should wait for wake to do this) reconfigures the desktop and moves the windows. I know of no way to fix this.
    – Rick
    Mar 5, 2017 at 0:02

5 Answers 5

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Go into the menu on your external monitor. If there's an option that allows one device to toggle the power on the other via HDMI, make sure this is deselected (honestly, I don't think this will have an effect as your laptop is doing the driving, but for the sake of troubleshooting...).

I too use an MBP Retina with external monitor (via HDMI). If I shut off the external monitor while it has application windows in its desktop, the screen on my laptop refreshes and said windows are moved to my laptop's display. However, if I power the external monitor back on, these application windows "automagically" move back to where they were (same location and size) on the external' Desktop (as long as I haven't shut down the computer in the meantime). So, it seems one solution (if you're hard set against also using your laptop' display) is to leave the laptop open, but decrease the brightness of the screen to 0. I do this all the time when watching a movie on the big screen, and, truly, the laptop' profile is no less "bulky" than it would be if it was closed. An additional benefit to this method is that the laptop stays cooler (than it otherwise would by closing it). You can verify this with any free temperature-monitoring app.

If the above does not work or is otherwise intolerable, I would guess that a solution could be programmed, though I'm not sure where one would start with this.

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I don't know if you can prevent it, but I use an app called Stay by Cordless Dog ($15, free trial), which keeps windows in place between display configuration changes.

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The brightness issue was a bug which was fixed in 10.15.4; the resizing and placement issue of windows is an HDMI problem and how the Mac sees it.

If you have a DisplayPort, use that connection. It solved all the problems!

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  • I try to avoid HDMI as much as possible. It's a consumer standard and very flaky - I've had issues with HDMI on all sorts of other devices (Roku, Chromecast, etc.). DisplayPort is the way to go. +1 and welcome to Ask Different!
    – Allan
    Mar 27, 2020 at 17:24
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On recent versions of macOS set a user password to wake from sleep. The machine will then wake to a login screen and by the time you have entered the password, the external display will have been recognised and should then restore all the original window positions correctly.

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  • This works for me, I think it's the best solution 👍
    – Geekarist
    Dec 7, 2022 at 10:26
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I had this problem for a while and tried lots of apps to fix it. Finally found a solution which was to use a HDMI to USB-C cable instead of HDMI-HDMI.

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