I use my MacBook with an external monitor at work and home. Unfortunately, they are both the same model and this seems to confuse OS X.

At work, I have the monitor on the left and at home the right. But each time I move from one to the other, I have to manually change the arrangement.

Does OS X not remember arrangement for multiple monitors, or is using the same model the source of confusion here?


3 Answers 3


Even in 2019 macOS fails to preserve my monitor layout. I wrote a tool called displayplacer that lets describe your monitor layout as a terminal command. I then use BetterTouchTool to execute these profiles via hotkeys. It solved the same problem for me of using the same model monitor at work (in portrait mode) as at home (in landscape mode).

For example, on my 4 monitor setup at home I have this profile: displayplacer "id:A46D2F5E-487B-CC69-C588-ECFD519016E5 res:3840x2160 hz:60 color_depth:8 scaling:off origin:(0,0) degree:0" "id:F466F621-B5FA-04A0-0800-CFA6C258DECD res:1440x900 color_depth:4 scaling:on origin:(-1440,1437) degree:0" "id:4C405A05-8798-553B-3550-F93E7A7722BB res:1440x2560 color_depth:8 scaling:off origin:(3840,-363) degree:270" "id:18173D22-3EC6-E735-EEB4-B003BF681F30 res:1920x1200 color_depth:8 scaling:off origin:(960,-1200) degree:0"

Also available via Homebrew brew tap jakehilborn/jakehilborn && brew install displayplacer

  • I ended up binding the profile to an alias in my shell config. Makes things so much easier especially since I am using rotated displays. alias arrange="displayplacer \"id:F0BCF... etc. Thanks for writing this @Jake Hilborn. Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 11:27
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    This is amazing - I also added it to BTT. Make sure to specify the full path of displayplacer in the BTT terminal command.
    – Adam Johns
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 13:43

OS X tries to remember arrangements, but it relies on monitors identifying themselves appropriately. Cheap brands may not bother to put distinct serial numbers in the EDID information they report, even though this is required by the EDID standard, so OS X will end up recognizing them all as the same monitor.

  • Is there any way to get the EDID manually? I would like to verify that is the problem. Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 1:09
  • If it's not in /var/log/system from when Core Display starts, you may be able to get it from a program like DisplayConfigX or SwitchResX.
    – geekosaur
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 1:18
  • I should mention that I have not had a problem with OS X forgetting display layouts, but all the external monitors I have available are different manufacturers; I have no way to verify that OS X is actually using the serial number or perhaps using a hash computed on the EDID or something. (The latter would still amount to the same thing, though, since changing the serial number should change the hash; it would still imply the monitor manufacturer is doing something strange.)
    – geekosaur
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 1:21
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    I don't consider HP or Samsung to be cheap monitors, nor does anyone. I have 2 HPs plugged into my Mac, both powered from the same power strip that controls all the monitors for my other computers. Every night I power off the power strip, turning off all my monitors, but leaving the computers on. Every morning I turn on the power strip, all my windows and monitors on all my other systems are all still in the same order & position EXCEPT the Mac. Every day i must rearrangement the Mac monitors and open app window positions. I switched over to 2 Samsung monitors, SAME PROBLEM. Its garbage!
    – rolinger
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 18:43

I have not verified the EDID, but I have a related problem that might shed some light...

I use the old Apple Cinema 30" HD display at both work and home. Unfortunately due to the desk configuration at the office, I'm forced to set-up my 30" monitor to the left of my 15" MBP w/ Retina, but have he opposite configuration at home (with the 30" to the right of the MBP).

I can attest that my MBP does not distinguish between the two Cinema displays and expect the desktop to span both ways for either of the configuration.

If OS X was indeed using EDID and distinguish the monitors by their serial numbers, I expect I would not see this behavior.

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