How to Move an Off Screen Window Back Onto the Active Mac Screen in Mac OS X

Aug 14, 2013 - 55 Comments

Ever had a window get lost partially off screen in Mac OS X, where the window titlebars and close/minimize/maximize buttons are no longer accessible? Typically this looks something like the following screen shot:

Window stuck off screen in Mac OS X

There a variety of potential causes and even random situations for windows to move offscreen like that, but it often happens with multi-display situations where one display is disconnected, leaving a large window behind where it’s titlebar is inaccessible off screen. The next time you find yourself in such a situation, try these two tricks to move any window back onto the Mac screen and regain access to the title bar and buttons again.

Try Window Zoom

The Window Zoom trick has been around for a long time and it often works, but it isn’t perfect. Nonetheless, it’s so easy it’s always worth a shot before anything else:

  • From the application where the window is stuck off screen, pull down the “Window” menu and choose “Zoom”

Zoom window to bring it back on screen

Not all apps have the Window Zoom ability though, and in some rare occurrences the zoom feature is still not effective at bringing a windows titlebar back into the usable on screen region. In that case, use the next trick to forcibly resize all windows.

Force Resize Windows to Fit On Screen in Mac OS X

When zoom fails, you can forcibly resize windows so that all of them are realigned and resized to accommodate the screen, pulling the titlebars and buttons back into the usable display region. This happens as a result of changing the screen resolution, here’s what to do:

  • Quit out of any active apps whose windows you do not want to resize
  • Head to System Preferences from the  Apple menu and choose “Displays”
  • Choose the “Display” tab and check the “Scaled” box next to “Resolution” to reveal all screen resolutions available for the Mac display(s)
  • Select a smaller size resolution and confirm you want to switch to the scaled resolution
  • Force windows to resize in Mac OS X

  • The screen resolution changes and all active windows are resized to fit onto the smaller resolution, and also pulled back onto the display to reveal the window titlebars again
  • Now go back to Display > Resolution > Scaled > and choose the normal resolution for the screen (or optionally just choose the “Best for built-in display” option
  • Exit out of System Preferences and enjoy access to your windows again

Resizing a window and bringing it back on the Mac screen

The resolution trick always works, but because it resizes all active app windows it can be a little frustrating if you have a carefully crafted window arrangement.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Peter says:

    Go to resize the window by moving the mouse to one of the bottom corners and click drag while holding option. This should resize the whole window.

  2. Lee Jr says:

    Following on from Grahams post at the top of the page I found that if you select whatever portion of the window is remaining on the screen, then select “Window” in the title bar and hold down the “Option” key, you will notice that all instructions for “Tile Window…” now change to “Move Window…”.
    Now just choose “Move Window to Right Side of Screen” (or left) and the window will reposition correctly within the screen but against the side.
    You can then drag and reposition as normal.

    Apologies if someone else already posted this but I skimmed through all of the posts and was just excited that I finally found an easy solution that I wanted to share with everyone.

    Happy window recovery

  3. Graham says:

    The above did not work for me so I went ham on it, trying all sorts of key combinations in conjunction with the resize feature. I was working with Filezilla. Doesn’t have a “Window” option in menu.

    So here’s the trick:

    Click one of the corners while holding down “option” + “Shift”

    Resize it and the bottom (or top) should move.

    Hope that helped!

  4. Jim Hays says:

    Perfect. Worked like a charm. Thanks

  5. Derek says:

    Awesome! Thank you!

    The Mac sucks so bad at losing windows off screen, especially if you have multiple monitors, or use a laptop with an external monitor. I really wish Apple would address this problem better.

  6. Josiah says:

    The best way I’ve found is to go to system preferences > Displays and click the Gather Windows button.

  7. Adrian says:

    I have a similar problem but with a slight wrinkle. Instead of the title bar being hidden (so that some of the resize solutions work), the entire window is hidden.

    So for example, I have a stock program running on my active window, and when I choose “save template” the save pop-up box shows up but it’s completely outside the viewing boundary of the active window. I know its there cause when I launch mission control it shows the save pop-up, but I can’t seem to access it. Clicking on it just moves the window back off-screen. I’ve tried using option solution and dragged the window to another space or display, but it will just show up off-screen on the new space/display. Pls help I can’t seem to find a solution anywhere!!

  8. Rich says:

    Best way to cure any issue like this:

  9. If you selected “Displays have separate Spaces” in System Preferences -> Mission Control, you can use the “Show Desktop” to show all Windows, and then drag the offending Window up to a different Space.

    Then switch to the different Space (Ctrl -> Left, by default) and drag the damn thing back to primary.

  10. bawey says:

    to drag the window around as much as you want you only need to hold down the alt key… as long as you use some normal OS, meh

  11. Kim says:

    I was having a problem with this in InDesign as the window was completely off the page. Nothing worked. The only thing that did work that I stumbled upon was in Window, switching from Application Frame to Application Bar and the window came back into view.

  12. Nrmrvrk says:

    window-> zoom: BAM! Solved. THANK YOU!

  13. Coy says:

    I seriously cannot resize this thing, it’s unbelievable.
    I tried Command, Shift, Option buttons in all different combinations – to no avail.

    Help me.

  14. Ella says:

    For a $2000 computer that claims superiority, why would this ever even be an issue?

  15. Chris Rakoczy says:

    Unfortunately the display scale, Option-resize, and several other tricks DID NOT work for my install of Adobe Lightroom. For some reason, the app will only open maximized, hiding the title bar behind the menu bar, which sucks because I want to be able to resize it, minimize it, move it around at times. I could drag the vertical resize arrow horizontally to get it back, but when I re-open the app, it maximizes again hiding the title bar. I don’t know how it happens as I cannot even manually move the title bar back up there once I “tear” it off the screen using the above trick.

    This app seems to be stuck opening maximized. Any ideas?

    • Thomas D says:

      If you have 2 screens: Goto preferences > Monitors: Move the window with the hidden title bar to the lower screen. The title bar then appears on the upper screen. Voila.

      • sam says:

        thank you! worked down list and this was the first thing that worked for me. I had the issue with Photoshop. Phew. thanks.

  16. Mike says:

    t1n0m3n’s handy trick worked for many apps, but not the latest version of Photoshop CS. It’s easy to get Photoshop stuck under the menu bar after moving it to a different display (it looks like a bug to me). My only solution has been to use Mission Control to drag the app to the other display. Once there it recognizes the menu bar and lets me drag the title bar around again.

  17. Jose Pablo says:

    Your solution worked, did the trick. Thanks

  18. viola says:

    nothing has worked for me. It still not showing :(((

    • Richard Bryan says:

      The resize/change resolution option didn’t work for me either. Safari is totally off the the right side of the window and only going to launchpad and clicking safari again will bring the application to the front. Not the worst thing in the world but frustrating nonetheless.

  19. Chris says:

    I was able to use the ‘expand’ button F3 which showed all the windows open. I then grabbed the top bar of the window that was out of bounds and dragged it into view.

  20. Kriti says:

    Option PLUS resize is probably the best solution…

    This worked too:
    “… just erase /Users/youruser/.config/filezilla/filezilla.xml ”


    Not sure it it messed anything up, but I see my bookmarks are still there.

  21. Chris says:

    Thanks for this post, and thanks Mic! On my 13″ mac book pro (retina) none of these options worked (I couldn’t choose a specific screen resolution in the display preferences) but the option key worked like a charm! Thank you.

  22. Mic says:

    Nothing worked for me until I’ve discovered something by accident, hold Option key and resize window from bottom it resizes it equally eventually brining the top of the screen within viewport.

  23. Marjon says:

    Both tricks in the article didn’t work for me but thanks to the suggestion from t1n0m3n I was able to get my screen back!

    Thank you very much t1n0m3n!

  24. Vincent says:

    Both these tricks do not work for the Android Emulator launched from Ecipse.

  25. magichabits says:

    t1n0m3n, thank you. I moved my mouse to the left edge of the window. While the cursor was left-right, I clicked and dragged the edge down and was able to drag the whole window.

  26. pekapa says:

    Or you can use BetterTouchTool and set a modifier key to move your window around (i.e. hold the modifier, click and drag with the mouse/trackpad)

  27. Dominik Schreier says:

    Thanks for your effort. This helped me.

  28. t1n0m3n says:

    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.

  29. Sean says:

    I have run into at least one app that even zoom or changing the screen resolution will fix.

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