I use my macbook with an external monitor. When I disconnect the external monitor, some of the windows are displayed outside of the screen bounds.

Is there any way to retrieve these windows? The only solution I found was to reconnect the external display and drag every window onto the laptop's screen.

  • What OS are you using? might be a bug with Tiger, but doubt it with Leopard.
    – l0c0b0x
    May 12, 2009 at 8:38

3 Answers 3


When a monitor is unplugged (including the adapter as well if applicable - leaving the adapter leaves OS X thinking the monitor is still plugged in) all the Windows should move onto your main screen. Occasionally some windows (eg. Firefox) will keep their position on the very far right of the screen leaving you just enough room to grab the title bar and move it where you'd like to.

One method of arranging the Windows so you can see them (if for some reason they're staying off screen) is to change to the application that owns the window in question, hold the Option key down and choose "Arrange in Front" from the Window menu. It will then arrange all the windows of that application in a cascade from the top left of the screen.

There are several AppleScripts available (eg. this one at Snipplr) that will also grab every window off screen and move it on screen for you.

  • There doesn't seem to be a "gather windows" button in the display preferences on Leopard.
    – lajos
    May 22, 2009 at 15:45
  • The button only appears if you have a second monitor plugged in and they are not mirrored.
    – Chealion
    May 22, 2009 at 16:22
  • OK, thanks for the info. I guess the best solution is the GatherWindows apple script you posted. It works awesome. Thanks!
    – lajos
    May 23, 2009 at 4:45

System Preferences -> Displays -> Gather Windows

Moves all open windows to the display showing this button. This button appears only if more than one display is connected to your computer.

  • Looks like this only gathers all open System Preferences windows. Mar 9, 2011 at 18:20

I take it "Arrange in Front" doesn't exist in Tiger? At least I can't find it. Changing the resolution (and then changing it back) seems to work.

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