I have a MacBook Pro (OS X 10.11) with one HDMI monitor and one USB monitor. The MBP is on the left, HDMI in the middle, and the USB is on the right. Each monitor has ~3 workspaces (meaning I usually have a total of 9 workspaces).

My overall setup seems chaos with regard to on which monitor, and in which workspace, apps launch into. I launch apps via the Dock and Finder.

Example: On the USB monitor in workspace #8, I double clicked a .docx file in Finder. At the time, I had workspace #1 displayed on the MBP. The MBP monitor all the sudden flipped to workspace #2 and opened the document.

Likewise, launching apps from the Dock gives inconsistent results.

Note: The behavior that is most logical does happen when you start Launch Pad and System Preferences from the Dock.

  1. put mouse focus in the monitor and workspace you want.
  2. click on the Dock for Launch Pad or System Preferences.
  3. they launch in the monitor and workspace that has the current focus.

For apps like Chrome, Excel, NetBeans, iTunes, etc. that does not happen. I can't figure-out how OS X decides which workspace to put it in.

  • 2
    Have you tried assigning specific applications to only open on specific monitors? You can right-click on the application icon and select Options -> Assign To and then select a monitor. That might help until a more permanent solution comes around.
    – fsb
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 18:46
  • @fbara That is very useful. I have been messing around with that setting for a while. A few times, I was given the option of selecting monitor AND workspace. But, I'm not sure what I did to have been offered that option. Right now, none of my apps are giving me that option anymore... I wish I knew what I did. Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 2:30

1 Answer 1


Problem solved! Let's say that I was not that familiar with apps that were running but had no open windows. Along with that I'd never paid much mind to my Dock (I always hid it with the Genie Effect). And the fbara comment sealed my understanding.

note: When I was messing around with the options settings for apps on the Dock, a few times I was given the choice of selecting both a default monitor and workspace. I am not sure what I did though. I can't get that choice anymore.

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