This is a Macbook laptop. No external monitors.

I have two "desktops." I have Chrome open in both desktops. And terminal.app open in just Desktop 1.

I'm in Chrome on desktop 1. I cmd-tab to Terminal. I cmd-tab (not holding cmd, just hitting cmd-tab and releasing) and it takes me to chrome in Desktop 2.

My expected result is that it would take me to chrome in desktop 1 because that was the window/app that I was most recently using.

Can this be fixed?

Things I've tried

  • Turning off "Displays have separate spaces" in mission control settings. Logged out and in, no success.

Is there a fix?


  • show us your Mission control settings
    – Ruskes
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 5:19
  • @Buscar웃 Thanks! My settings: i.imgur.com/g2uLTGe.png Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 5:27
  • @Buscar웃 Any suggestions given that? It still happens unfortunately even with those settings. Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 7:03
  • "Chrome open in both desktops" - the OS is not designed to support that, that's why it won't do what you want.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 7:29
  • @Tetsujin; Sorry, but huh? Of course macOS is designed to support that. I do it all the time. You can have different windows of the same app on several spaces, why wouldn't you be able to?
    – Gero
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 8:19

2 Answers 2


As far as I can tell this is an issue that is provoked by something in Chrome.

I'm struggling with the same issue but while having multiple displays attached (behaves the same as spaces in most ways) where if I have Chrome on Display one and two. If I now cmd+tab to an app that's only on display 2 it'll switch focus to that display but when I Cmd+tab back to Chrome it will focus back to display 1 in spite of having a Chrome window also on display 2. If I now switch these two windows of Chrome around the focus priority doesn't change so it doesn't have anything to do with the creation order of the windows but soley with the Desktop which they're on. For my 2-Display setup it prioritizes always the same one no matter where the Dock is located or anything else I could think of to try. I therefore think it's got something to do with the internal differentiation of macOS between the displays.

But now for the kicker: If I try to reproduce the same illogical behaviour with Safari it doesn't happen. Safari behaves exactly as one would expect regarding focusing order.

Thus I think it's a problem created by some interaction of Chrome and macOS because of the arbitrary lock to a Display.

I therefore think the easiest solution for your Problem is to move the Terminal Window(s) to the Desktop where Chrome focuses. Maybe reordering the Desktops might change something about the behaviour but I didn't check that.

  • That's really weird (and obnoxious) then. As stated above, I couldn't reproduce it, but apparently that just means I am lucky then. I've seen MS Office 2011 (or was it 2016?) mess up space order as well, but only during a (fullscreen) PowerPoint presentation. Maybe it has something to do with how the app's internally manage windows/using the cocoa libraries. I know that there have been more than one way to handle things to some extent.
    – Gero
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 12:30

Looks like this workaround might help. This indeed happens with Chrome windows most of the time.

create a new space in Mission control, drag all the Chrome windows in the "focus-hog" space to the new space (in Mission control, click and drag the Chrome icon up onto the new space), and then drag them back. This seems to reset the behavior for all spaces with Chrome windows.

  • Welcome to Ask Different! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 19:35

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