Is it possible to change the order of the desktop assigned to each monitor? It used to be setup so that they where all in sequence, 1 (laptop), 2, 3 however after working in a remote location for a while and plugging back in the monitors it switched to 1 (laptop), 3, 2 and now things are launching on the wrong screen. What can I do to get this fixed?

2 Answers 2


This occurs when the Mac fails to recognise the displays correctly. At reconnect, it 'forgets' what physical order you had them in.

One of the users on Ask Different made an app to keep a tighter hold on this - which I'm afraid I've been unable to track down. I hope they find this question & leave us a link to their app again.

In the meantime, a workaround would be to re-arrange your display order in System Pref > Displays > Arrangement.
You can drag individual displays into whichever order you would prefer.
If you click & hold any display it will highlight in red - on the control panel & also right round the display that is referenced, so you can easily tell which is which. The primary display is the one with the menu bar [which can also be moved, if needed]

Image showing 3 monitors, centre highlighted, primary assigned to left-most.

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If your Mac is suffering from this 'forgetfulness' you may need to re-do this each time you change your connected monitors [hence the need for the app mentioned above.]

I'm assuming this is not actually the same as How to prevent Mac from changing the order of Desktops/Spaces which is actually a different issue with a simple fix in prefs.

  • 1
    You are correct it is not a duplicate of the linked question and I had run across that one as I was researching the issue. Your suggestion sort of works and if I slightly rearrange them so that they are no longer all lined up the order corrects itself to be 1, 2, 3. I even tried completely redoing the order by moving everything around and redoing it. However the issue is that if I fix the alignment to better match them up it switches back to 1, 3, 2 but if I move it just slightly out of alignment it reverts back to 1, 2, 3. While this isn't ideal it should until I can find a better fix.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 9, 2020 at 14:33

Mission Control shows the order of desktop spaces. It may show the order of your monitors as well. In mission control, you can move windows to a different order by clicking on the window at the top and moving it around to where you want it - which order you want them in. I don't know for sure if it works with different monitors but it's easy to check.

  • I can move them around on that monitor but I am unable to move them around so I can get the desktops in 1, 2, 3 order again.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 9, 2020 at 5:38

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