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I know that with OS X Lion (10.7) and Mountain Lion (10.8) applications can be assigned to specific Spaces/Desktops. With my laptop I daily connect and disconnect from an external monitor. When I disconnect, all my app windows are automatically gathered to the laptop monitor, of course.

When I reconnect to the external monitor, I manually move my app windows back to the second screen. Is there some functionality that is built into OS X that would automatically restore those application windows back to where they were previously?

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So far the answers are directing me to third party applications. Perhaps OS X does not have a setting or option that would natively handle this. – SunSparc Apr 18 '13 at 4:44
Update, this feature seems to be built in with Mavericks. Though that does not address the question for previous versions of the OS. – SunSparc Jan 10 '14 at 2:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted

This has been fixed in Mavericks. To control on which display an application's windows appear, move your cursor to the Dock icon for that application. Right-click (or Ctrl-click) on the icon, then select Options > Desktop on Display 1 (or 2). You also have the option to assign to all desktops or to none.

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I would consider selecting this as an answer if you took more time to provide helpful details. As it is, I can only guess about the exact steps to recreate exactly what you are trying to describe. :) – SunSparc Jul 22 '14 at 14:53
I made some edits and hope it's more useful now. – lukethompson Jul 23 '14 at 17:38
When I unplug the monitor and plug it back in it seems to forget this setting. I'm setting the monitor as a primary device though. – frabcus Dec 16 '14 at 9:14

I never tried it myself but I think this is what you are looking for:

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I had actually seen this will Googling my question before asking here. I will look into it further. Though I was hoping there was some functionality built into OS X that I could bend to my will. :) – SunSparc Apr 12 '13 at 15:51
I use Stay, and it's great, but it doesn't always behave as expected with regard to Spaces. I've chatted with the developer, and evidently it's a limitation of OSX APIs and it very difficult to work around. – wst Oct 16 '13 at 15:29
Stay looked promising but it can't handle X11 applications launched from remote machine =( – rasjani Jun 4 '14 at 7:31

The windowmanager Slate supports doing this kind of thing. You can create profiles (layout's) specific to a given situation, e.g. 1 monitor or 2 monitors, and specify how the windos should be organized (google chrome full screen on main screen, mail full screen on laptop screen, etc).

In addition to this feature, Slate has a truckload of other features. I would recommend skimming the documentation, but first read this blog post by Tristan Hume. A blog post I wrote about slate might also be interesting.

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Perhaps similar to the Stay suggestion. I will take a look. Thanks. – SunSparc Apr 12 '13 at 15:52

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