How to Move the Dock to Another Monitor in OS X El Capitan

Mac users can hide the menu bar in OS X El Capitan, but what if you want to move the dock to a second monitor?

How to Move the Dock to Another Monitor in OS X El Capitan

Moving the dock to a second display has been possible on Mac OS X for many years, but the dock and menu bar changes in recent versions make it worthy of another look.

So, if you’re new to macOS or just brushing up on your Mac skills, here’s how to move your dock and configure your primary display in OS X El Capitan or newer. Note that Mac OS X is now called macOS, but the terms Mac OS X and macOS are still used interchangeably.

How to Move the Mac Dock to Another Monitor

There are many different multi-monitor configurations supported by Mac OS X. While the steps discussed here will focus on a dual-display structure, they can be applied to other setups as well.

For this article, our setup is a Mac with two external displays. The display on the right is currently configured as the primary display, while the screen on the left is the secondary display.

Set Your Primary Display

mac os x second monitor

Starting with OS X 10.9 Mavericks, the OS will show the menu bar by default on all displays. Still, the default location of your dock and the appearance of desktop icons will tell you which monitor is currently your primary display.

To change this up, follow these instructions:

1. Go to System Preferences

2. Click on Displays.

3. Next, click on the Arrangement tab.

The “Arrangements” tab will show you the layout and relative resolution of all monitors currently connected to your Mac, including the built-in display on a MacBook (i.e., the laptop monitor itself), with each monitor represented by a blue rectangle icon.

One of the display icons will have a white bar at the top, representing the menu bar. This depiction is a holdover from older versions of OS X, which did not display the menu bar on all monitors. Still, it helps us identify which monitor is currently the primary display.

If you’re connecting many displays to your Mac for the first time and you aren’t sure which icon in System Preferences corresponds to which physical monitor on your desk, click and hold to select one of the icons. A red border will appear around the monitor the icon represents.

mac os x identify display

Once you’ve identified all of your Mac’s displays, you can click in the blue area of any display icon and drag and drop it to the appropriate position. This process arranges your virtual monitor images to match the actual layout of your physical monitors.

To make the monitor on the left your primary display, click and hold on the white bar at the top of the right icon, and then drag and drop it on the left icon.

mac os x move menu bar

When you release the white bar on the left display icon, all of your screens briefly dim to black. When the desktop reappears, your new monitor—in our example, the one on the left—will now contain the dock, active application windows, and any desktop icons.

new primary display second monitor mac

Suppose you don’t like the new display arrangement. In that case, you can revert to having the right monitor configured as your primary display again by heading into System Preferences and dragging the white bar back to the desired monitor icon.

Other than the brief period in which the displays dim, your changes will take effect immediately, so there’s no need to reboot or log out to see your changes.

Move Only the Dock to Another Monitor

Starting with OS X 10.10 Yosemite, there’s a new method for moving just the dock to another display without making changes to your primary screen in System Preferences.

To try it, move your mouse or trackpad cursor to the very bottom of the display where you want your dock to appear and hold it there.

After a brief moment, the dock slides down and out of sight on your primary display. It then slides up into view on the other screen.

move dock second display os x

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Mac system displays the dock on the left monitor. Simultaneously, the desktop icons and active windows associated with your primary display configuration remain on the right one.

Once your desired monitor displays the dock, you can easily reposition it to the left, right, or default bottom of the screen to suit your liking.

12 thoughts on “How to Move the Dock to Another Monitor in OS X El Capitan”

Jack says:
Aaron – thank you for posting this, sir! Frustratingly, moving the dang menu bar had eluded me.
dWiGhT says:
I have a monitor and hook my MacBookPro to it to use multiple screens. I set the laptop to the right of the monitor and set the arrangments as such in System Prefs and making the monitor the primary by moving the white menu bar.
Holding the mouse on the bottom of the primary display works but when I reposition the dock to be on the right it appears on the right side of the laptop vs the right of the primary display (the monitor). If I select left it correctly shows up on the left on the monitor.

Is this the expected behavior or can’t I position my dock on the right in this setup?

T says:
Scratch that, I got it to work if I arranged the displays side by side rather than one over the other. Interestingly, having vertically arranged displays prevents the dock from showing on any “non-primary” displays even if I move the dock from the bottom to the right or left.

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