So I want to use two different desktops on my two different monitors in Mac OS X Lion. The only options I can find are extended desktop and mirror desktop.

Is there any way to use two desktops simultaneously and pin one to each monitor? Either a native OS X functionality or (cheap) third-party solution?

The reasons for desiring this are essentially so I can have the two monitors functioning completely independently of each other. I would like two menu bars (the program SecondBar achieves this to a limited extent) and two docks (I haven't found a good program to do this). I would also like the ability to, for instance, play a game on one monitor while have the other free for browsing and typesetting.

(I have considered using a VM program like Parallels or VMware to create a second instance of OS X and pin the VM to my second monitor, but I would like something a little less memory intensive if at all possible.)

  • What are you trying to do that you can't do with extended desktop mode? Do you want to not be able to move windows between desktops? Do you want two Docks or menu bars?
    – Cajunluke
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 21:44
  • It does sound like the "assign to all" option is what @Dennis is after...but, it's hard to get an idea of what your ultimate goal is and what problem you are currently facing. Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 21:46
  • @CajunLuke yes two Docks and Menu Bars would accomplish part of what I want.
    – Dennis
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 2:59

3 Answers 3


You wouldn't need two VMs running, merely one running while you use the host OS X would accomplish what you want. It would be easier to give a suggestion based on a more detailed explanation of what you wish to do or accomplish.

If you want something to not disappear when changing spaces try using the "assign to all" option.

From comments below, option for multiple docks

dockit dockshelf

  • I didn't mean two VM's, just two instances of OS X. One as the host OS X and one in the VM. Question edited to clarify. Essentially I'd like to have two spaces running side by side without having to switch between them.
    – Dennis
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 2:57
  • Others have expressed wanting spaces separate on monitors or certain applications to stick around in OS X and I've seen no work around or option. For now your options are VM, setting certain applications to all spaces, or using Synergy to control multiple computers seamlessly. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 18:08
  • Thanks for the info, that's what I've been led to believe. Was hoping for a work-around or third-party solution. Would vote-up if I had the rep, will accept in another day if no other answers come with such a solution.
    – Dennis
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 18:39
  • If you could give more details on just what you're trying to do I might be able to think of something. Two docks could be emulated by having aliases along the bottom of one screen on the desktop, and as for playing games, a lot of games on Steam and other games allow for full windowed mode which is full screen on one monitor but you can move the mouse completely out without cmd-tabbing. I believe all Blizzard games have this option as well. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 18:52
  • The two docks trick would be useful. Frankly I think this is just me being nit-picky and really wanting two separate desktops/spaces on two different monitors. I don't have many ideas of what else I would use it for. I want to be able to keep my monitors easily organized and so to have all Acrobat windows, for instance, open on my second monitor (when it is plugged in). And I want to be able to have full use of my second monitor for tasks specific to it (launch apps, etc.) without having to switch back to my first monitor as an intermediate step.
    – Dennis
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 22:10

In the same vein as FaultyJuggler's VM idea, have one Mac hooked up to two monitors and use VNC or similar to view the screen of a second Mac on your network full-screen on one of your monitors.


You could use two physical Macs, each hooked up to a single monitor, with something like Synergy allowing you to move your mouse and keyboard between the monitors so you only need one mouse and one keyboard.

  • Unfortunately I do not have have two physical Macs available to use.
    – Dennis
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 15:06

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