How to Resize a Window That is Too Big or Off Screen in Mac OS

Jul 5, 2010 - 22 Comments

There are times when you will find a windows sizing controls have been rendered inaccessible, the most likely cause is from changing the Mac’s resolution by hooking it up and then disconnecting it from an external display, however I have also seen poorly written javascripts resize windows to outrageous proportions as well. If you encounter a window on your Mac that is too big to manually drag or resize, try one of these techniques.

Resizing windows that are off screen in Mac OS X

  • The first method you should try is to click the green button in the window titlebar, this will resize the window to fit to the available screen resolution. Of course, this is assuming you have access to the green zoom button.
  • If you can’t access the green resize button because it is off screen, just click on the window you want resized and then navigate to the Window menu and pull down to ‘Zoom’. This will automatically resize the active window to fit on the screen.

resize window off screen mac

The Window menu is available in virtually every Mac OS X application and will always be accessible for resizing and ‘zooming’ windows to fit onto the available resolution.

“Help! There’s a window on my Mac that is too big to resize, it’s hanging off the screen! How do I fix this?” – This is the phone call that spawned this post. I set a relative up with a dual-screen Mac setup recently and they love it, well, until they disconnected their MacBook Pro from the external display to find that a browser window sized at 1650×1080 was hanging way off the smaller resolution internal display running at 1280×800. The green resize buttons were inaccessible as well as the drag-to-resize portion of the window itself. I told them about the Zoom trick and they were quite happy with such an easy fix. Problem solved!

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Posted by: Manish Patel in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

22 Comments

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  1. Julie says:

    Oh, this is a great tip; however, when those pesky Photoshop filters or adjustment windows are completely off-screen after disconnecting from an external display, there’s not even a window to click on. Is there a fix for that? So far, I’ve had to remember to move all the filter windows I’ve used during that session onto the smaller laptop screen before quitting PS, or else I won’t find some of them at all.

  2. Shaf says:

    I believe you can also hold ⌥ and click the green + button.

  3. Jerry says:

    I have an mac Mini with a NEC monitor. The window of whatever application is running (Firefox, Word, etc) is HUGE. I have tried green button, Zoom, apple and the minus sign – nothing reduces the size of the window or gets all the material in on the screen (into) the window

  4. f1 says:

    Cinch is very nice app for it

  5. dilgreen says:

    I have a tip for this. A colleague had changed screens, and was in the habit of having modal ‘windowshade’ dialog boxes (like the ‘attach’ dialog for mail) set at full screen. After switching screens, not only the re-size handle, but the ‘cancel’ and ‘choose file’ buttons were inaccessible too! no amount of green button clicking or window zooming did anything, until I performed the following actions:
    1. Open System Preferences>Displays
    2. change resolution to something small – 848×480
    3. click green button to zoom window – it still doesn’t fit
    4. change screen resolution to largest practical
    5. window is now small!
    (if necessary, try two clicks at stage 3, and green click at stage 5.)

  6. kahli says:

    That helps on my mac but not my macbook. It doesnt let me go bigger than 1280×800 and the window is still cut off.

  7. Jordan says:

    both the green button and zoom button are unavailable for this window, and the resolution won’t let me go any further than 1280×800 on my macbook. What am I supposed to do?

  8. reg says:

    I have the same problem, I really HATE my mac, sorry! The same as Jordan has….. but, in my case I only have one program that does this, Adobe Camera Raw, does anyone have any ideas? Maybe the problem is in the Adobe program, not the mac?

  9. Nina says:

    No matter what I try, nothing will work! (This is the Garage Band screen that’s acting up by the way.) I have tried pushing the green button, and when I go to window and hit Minimize, it just makes the screen go down to the tool bar! I need to see the whole screen, because I can’t hit the record button or go to all of the effects!

  10. Earl Fox says:

    Nothing works for me too – I’m trying to use Zoiper application and “Zoom” button aren’t available

  11. Sherman Bok says:

    Kudos! Thanks so much for the tip! Saved my life literally especially when I have a report deadline!

    Still works even after 3 years!

  12. dave says:

    i just had this happen when i moved photoshop from my external monitor to my mbp and I was going to try the above resize method but when i opened up system preferences > displays i just clicked the box for “mirror displays” thinking that’d work and it did ;)

  13. Heather Allen says:

    Thank you SO much. For days the bottom of my photoshop window was off the screen so I couldn’t drag the bottom right corner up. On google searches the suggestions of how to fix this were infuriating – download this software, change all this gumpf in system preferences etc etc. I knew there had to be a simple solution other than pages of rubbish by ‘experts’.

    Then you just put it plain and simple ‘click the green button in the window title bar.’

    Perfect. Done. Thanks.

  14. Bill Colbert says:

    Not just a window, but my entire display is both too wide and too tall. Changing resolutions does not help. Any suggestions?

  15. Kate O'Hara says:

    Wow. One click on the green button and done! Magic. Thank you.

  16. Darryll says:

    This by the far the easiest and most effective way:

    t1n0m3n says:
    August 6, 2014 at 10:28 am
    I have found that you can move the app window if you position the mouse over the edge to get the horizontal or vertical resize arrows. The trick is to move the mouse horizontally if you have the vertical resize arrows or vertically if you have the horizontal resize arrows. It is a bit tricky, but it works on Mavericks 10.9.x This trick does not work with the diagonal resize arrows. The trick works better if you get the resize arrows the furthest away from the window without turning back into a normal pointer. You can practice this trick on any window, off screen or not.

  17. Thilde says:

    Darryll: you just saved my life. I was watching a movie using an html cable and the popcorn time window was waaaaay too big for my screen! Nothing worked and I didn’t think this would either, but it did! Thank youuuuu!!!

  18. teresa boardman says:

    Zoom trick doesn’t work for me at all just resizes window but controls on the bottom are still off the screen. Problem only exists in the chrome browser and had been a problem since I updated to the latest Mac operating system. I can usually get what I want by pressing enter or using the escape key but can not use all of the functions that are now unreachable below the bottom of my screen

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