I have an external monitor connected to my laptop, and the external monitor is set as the primary display. My problem is that sometimes after I've connected the monitor, the App Switcher still shows on the laptop screen. How can I set/reset it to show on the primary display (external monitor)?

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12 Answers 12


The App Switcher tends to follow where the Dock is located. Place your dock in the monitor where you want your app switcher to be displayed.

For example: if you have two monitors and the dock is on left side hiding then the app switcher will be on left monitor.

If the Dock is on the bottom, the app switcher will be on the monitor where the dock was most recently activated. You can test this by activating the dock and then the app switcher on each display.

BTW I am on Mavericks.

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    FYI - If you set the dock to autohide, it will follow your cursor. I.e. dock is autohid on the bottom--place your cursor on the bottom of any monitor and the dock will move to that monitor. If you do this right before cmd + tab all is well :)
    – James
    Jun 11, 2014 at 20:38
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    for me, it was whatever monitor had my hidden dock most recently activated. Aug 25, 2014 at 23:56
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    Indeed, on Yosemite, when dock is autohiding, the task switcher will be on the display that last unhid the dock. Which is pretty annoying at times. Feb 27, 2015 at 14:27
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    In my opinion, the most sensible place to show the switcher is on the display that you are looking at. And because Mac does not (yet) track your eyes, the switcher should, by default, be replicated on all displays. If presenting, you'd choose different behavior.
    – jarmod
    Feb 15, 2019 at 22:50

This displays app switcher on both the screens. Works on MacOS Monterey 12.3.1

defaults write com.apple.dock appswitcher-all-displays -bool true
killall Dock

If it isn't working for you even after the killall Dock, try rebooting. This seems to be common for people with M1 chips.

It also works on other versions (Ventura, Big Sur and Catalina)

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    Exactly what I wanted, thanks!
    – ianmayo
    May 24, 2021 at 19:18
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    This is the best answer. Period. Thanks for sharing!!! :D
    – Michael J
    Jul 21, 2021 at 14:28
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    +1 I don't know why this isn't set by default - it's doesn't leave your intuition to guess what's going on. I can't imagine anyone preferring the other way after having seen both.
    – Kelvin
    Jul 23, 2021 at 19:25
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    hmm this sounds like the dream solution but it's not working for me. sudoing it doesnt help either.
    – gosuto
    Aug 30, 2021 at 9:19
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    It worked for me on Monterey, BUT the dock in com.apple.dock MUST be lowercase – I guess that's because my filesystem is case sensitive.
    – MacDada
    Nov 22, 2022 at 21:12

Just move your mouse pointer to the bottom of your primary display to cause the dock to pop-up (if hidden), and the App Switcher will pin to the display. If you activate the Dock on your secondary display, the App Switcher will pin to it. If you do not use the Pop-up Dock feature, just Click your Downloads icon on the dock in your primary display to move the App Switcher focus back to that display.

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    On Mavericks with multiple monitors, I've noticed that the App Switcher shows up on the display that your mouse last hovered over the dock. Weird...
    – Dan
    May 27, 2014 at 15:12
  • Ah, thanks, didn't understand how it suddenly changed to the other monitor. Feb 23, 2021 at 10:24

In OS X Mavericks, the task switcher is now shown on the screen that previously showed the dock (and in Mavericks this is both screens).

I don't really ever use the dock, but the task switcher jumped to my second monitor (Macbook) all the time anyway.

What worked for me was to move the dock from bottom of the monitor(s) to the right of my main monitor. The task switcher has not jumped back since i did that.

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    This worked for me on Yosemite as well. It seems the application switcher is displayed on whatever display also shows the dock, which itself doesn't jump after you set the "primary" display in the system display settings. Feb 9, 2015 at 14:53
  • Thank you! I've been wondering what the trigger was that had the App Switcher what seemed randomly switching monitors. Sep 10, 2021 at 15:01

On my MacBook Pro an external monitor, I did the following to get my task switcher on the MacBook screen:

  • Go to System Preferences ➔ Dock
  • Turn off Dock Hiding by checking the checkbox for "Automatically hide and show the Dock".
  • The dock now displays on my MacBook Pro screen.
  • Now turn Dock Hiding back on by clicking the same checkbox.
  • Now my task switcher returned to the MacBook screen.

It sometimes happens together with the Dock being unresponsive. Restarting Dock helps.

Type in terminal:

killall Dock

If you're not really using your laptop monitor when you've got your external monitor attached, you can turn on display mirroring to make it act like you've only got one monitor attached.

Go to

  • System Preferences
  • Displays
  • Arrangement
  • Check "Display Mirroring".

Latest Mavericks (10.9.5 as of 2014-09-26):

The dock shows up in both monitors for me which is how I like it. When the App Switcher occasionally appears in the wrong screen, my solution is to interact with the dock in the screen where I want App Switcher to appear.

By "interact" I mean do literally anything with it. Turn magnification on and off again, whatever -- even just clicking on it seems to work. This always seems to get its attention and tell OS X to consider that screen the current primary. Nothing in the System Preferences > Displays seemed to help, but this little trick has, for me, consistently.


On MacOS 12 Monterey, I got it to move when I turned hiding off on the dock (right click on the dock, "Turn Hiding Off"). Just moving the mouse or mousing over the dock to show it wasn't enough anymore.


Drag to white bar to the primary screen (where you want the app switcher to appear) solved it for me. If it's already on the the primary screen, switch it back and forth to make it work. Screenshot


I had the same exact problem and it was driving me insane, so I opened the system prefs and went to the monitor tab to see if there's a setting, I found nothing and close the preferences and then magically it got fixed, now the application switcher is on my main monitor!

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    Hello and welcome to superuser.com. Please do not use the answer fields to post comments. Wait until you have enough reputation points to post comments and do it then. Answers are for answers with a description of how to solve something.
    – Mogget
    Nov 7, 2013 at 21:27
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    Hello again. Don't be sorry. This happens all the time. You can if you want delete your answer by pressing delete where is says share|edit|delete|flag. Just know that in general, the "regulars" want the answer fields to contain specific solutions and comments about something to be in the comments. You will have the required reputation points to write comments soon, so don't despair. Cheers.
    – Mogget
    Nov 7, 2013 at 22:31
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    To me this seems like an answer/solution, I don't think you should remove it. Thanks, will check it out! Nov 8, 2013 at 6:19
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    The solution is actually easier than I thought, the fact is that the app switcher is going to appear in the monitor where the dock is, I have my dock hidden, so to make the app switcher appear on the opposite monitor I just have to slide down the mouse to make the dock appear on that monitor. This way is so easy to select which monitor you want as primary on the fly. No need to open system preferences.
    – Nel
    Nov 12, 2013 at 22:09
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    @Nel, If that solution works for you, you should update your answer to reflect it. Nov 13, 2013 at 15:46

I had this same problem with Mavericks, and I am happy to say that it seems to have been dealt with in Yosemite. There is a setting that allows you to control where tab-switcher appears (e.g. monitor with mouse or monitor with active window).

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    Where is this setting in Yosemite?
    – xgdgsc
    Oct 20, 2014 at 7:26
  • I think it was in preferences>dock but I can't say for sure. Either they removed it (unlikely) or it doesn't show up when you don't have an external monitor connected. It could also be in mission control. Oct 21, 2014 at 13:29
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    This sounds nice, but I can't find it in any of the places you have listed even with two external monitors plugged in and running. Any other thoughts?
    – spex
    Jan 5, 2015 at 18:43

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