Multiple Display window management with Mission Control in Mac OS X

Mission Control is the excellent window management utility in OS X that lets you get a quick overview of everything you have open. While Mission Control has always been able to drag windows and apps between different virtual desktop Spaces, a new ability has been added to OS X Mavericks that allows Mac users with multiple monitor setups to gain the same drag & drop support between external displays too. This greatly improves multi-display window management and organization, and it makes it easier than ever to reassign apps and all their windows to another display, move an entire Desktop space to a different screen, or just send a single app window to another display if you’d prefer to do that too.

This is super easy to do, but it’s really better experienced than explained. Those with an external screen hooked up to their Mac can follow along:

  1. Enter Mission Control in OS X as usual, typically by hitting the F3 key or with a three-finger swipe up on a trackpad
  2. Grab any window, app, Desktop, or full screen app from one display and move it drop it onto another display

Drag windows, apps, and desktops to external displays from Mission Control in OS X

Depending on what you’re grabbing, you’ll get different results on the external display(s):

  • A single window will only take that window to the new display
  • An app icon will take all windows open within that app to the new display
  • A full screen app acts as a new Desktop space on the new display
  • An entire Desktop Space will move everything within that space to the new display

Using this trick when screens are overwhelmed with too many open apps or windows can be a lifesaver, quickly restoring productivity without having to close or quit everything or spend too long reconfiguring windows and desktops.

This works regardless of how many screens you have connected to the Mac, whether it’s two, three, or many. While this specific trick is limited to Macs using more than one display, you can also drag and drop apps, Desktops, Dashboard, and windows between virtual desktops on a single screen setup from the Mission Control window as well.

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