Note: External Display is in its own immovable desktop/space

Some posts regarding desktops/spaces and external displays remind me that I should announce a discovery I made. I think it’s a bug, and told Apple so, but I’ve learned to use it as a feature.

External displays contain their own, unchangeable space/desktop.

To wit:

  • I have one external display
  • I have N desktop/spaces
  • Invoking Mission Control shows N + 1 desktops
  • The external display shows desktop N + 1
  • When focus is on an internal display window, using the appropriate keystroke to move left or right one space — whatever mechanism and keystroke you have set up for this — appropriately changes the desktop on the internal display.
  • However, the external display continues to show desktop N + 1.
  • Furthermore, when focus is on a window on the external display, moving to the next/previous space actually does change the space of the internal display, but the contents of the external display don’t change.

So, even though you can move around spaces/desktops on the internal display, the external desktop is in its own immovable extra space/desktop. After being frustrated by this for a while I have discovered that it can be very useful to “anchor” some windows in the external display while moving spaces in the internal display.

References to Other Relevant Posts

1 Like