I just setup dual monitors for my Mac and keep accidentally typing into an app in monitor 1 after I've moved my mouse to an app in monitor 2. I can't be the only one who runs into this with dual monitors so any advice for how to handle this?


Just make sure you remember to activate the text area you want to type in by clicking on it first, condition yourself to be aware of what is active.

  1. Pay attention to which application is active

    [insert image of Mac OS x application bar]

  2. Pay attention to which window in an application is active, notice the differences in title bar color and transparency.

    [insert image of window active differences in an os x app]

  3. Pay attention to what and if any text input areas are selected and ready for text input.

    [insert image of blinking input cursor -->| in text area ]

  4. Be redundant and just click if you don't want to do the above observations.

This seems to crop up since scrolling works with out having to click on the window / content, and I think this leads us into a confused state that we have activated the app / window by placing the cursor over it and scrolling.

However that is not the case since scrolling a window by just mouse-ing over does not change which program was originally active. And to enter text or do other command actions that still requires that you tell Mac OS where your intending your input to go other wise it remembers the last active place selected.

And actually for other OS's this is a feature, called focus follow pointer or mouse but unfortunatly is not really implemented at a system wide level on OS X according to comments and feedback noted here Focus-follows-mouse (plus auto-raise) on Mac OS X. So it is not something you can easily enable in system preferences, and as far as I can tell no 3rd party App exist to add this functionality to OS X.

There are some defaults work arounds for certain apps to allow windows in those certain apps to be activated on mouse over, but unfortunately there does not seem to be a system wide option for OS X.

  • That's exactly what happens to me. I click on a link in Outlook (monitor1) which opens a tab in chrome (monitor2). I read through the page and scroll, and then forgetting that I'm still in outlook press cmd+w which obviously closes the wrong thing. Jun 1 '12 at 19:35

Have you tried using Isolator? It essentially darkens all windows except the one on focus. You have different options on the filter, so you can make sure that you can still read what's on other windows (otherwise it kind of defeats the point of having two monitors!). And of course you can set a keyboard shortcut for that.

The only drawback of Isolator is that it works by application, rather than by window. What often happens to me is that I start typing in the Matlab editor when I want to run something from the command line... and Isolator doesn't help in that case. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a solution to that.


The way I handle this is that I treat the second monitor as more or less read-only. I move windows over there that I want to read but only interact with windows on the main screen. If I want to work with a window that's on the second screen I just move it to the first screen first.

Alternately, I use exposé and swap between entire spaces.


To highlight a single window that has keyboard focus try Hazeover. It can either highlight one window on each display or dim all screens that you're not using.


Some potentially useful advice for part "focus on hover" with dual screens. It doesn't fix "typing" when some input box is active on another monitor but it might help people who come here for all aspects of "focus on hover".

Without this fix I always had to "focus click" in a monitor before I can contextually click on anything at all.

You can get some aspects of "focus on hover" with this:

  1. Go into 'System Preferences'
  2. Select option 'Mission Control'
  3. In there you should see 'Displays have separate Spaces', untick it

Then at least with Monitor1 selected, now you can instantly click on something in Monitor2, like an email or Tab, without needing the first "focus click".

As always can be the case, this may not work for everyone depending on OS version and probably other things.

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