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Bring Misplaced Off-Screen Applications Back to Your Desktop

by MelaniePPC / January 26, 2010 9:21 AM PST

I often run into the issue of having an application open but it being completely off your screen all together after disconnecting from an external monitor? The application is running, my doc shows it to be open, however, it is nowhere on my screen. If I hit the F3 button so that it shows me all my open application, sure enough it?s there?but once again it?s not on my screen and therfor I can?t access it. Does anyone know how to fix this?

I'm using a MacBook Pro, Max OS X, Leopard.

I appreciate any help.

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Change the monitor resolution
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / January 26, 2010 8:54 PM PST

by going to the Monitors Preference pane, inside the System Preferences, and choosing a higher resolution , if possible.
This will move all the objects on the screen to a position where, hopefully, you can drag it to where you want it.

Let us know how it works out for you


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Bring off screen document back on screen
by kidogo30 / February 2, 2011 1:50 AM PST

I tried your reply to Melanie. It did not work for me ... perhaps because I already have both displays on high resolution.

I use MacBook OS X 10.4.11

I don't know which animal that is.

I desperately need the document that is off screen. I can open and close it, but cannot see it.

I would surely appreciate help.

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Both displays,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / February 2, 2011 9:17 AM PST

extended desktop?

Does it appear on the other monitor anywhere?

What happens when you remove the other monitor from the equation?


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It is always off screen, with either monitor or both
by kidogo30 / February 2, 2011 3:49 PM PST
In reply to: Both displays,

Sorry. I didn't think to tell you I have tried one monitor at a time, as well as both together.

Also, I thought perhaps I could duplicate the icon, even put it in another folder, and that new icon would open the document copy elsewhere, but it still opens off screen.

My Mac is a MacBook OS X 10.4.11
The large monitor is an Acer

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turn off extended desktop
by ziptie / February 3, 2011 5:19 AM PST

It should work

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Where and How do I do that?
by kidogo30 / February 3, 2011 1:19 PM PST

Thanks! That sounds like a winner. But how and where do I do that?
I don't find any way to do it in System Preferences?

My Mac is a MacBook OS X 10.4.11
The large monitor is an Acer

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That option only appears if you have
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / February 3, 2011 8:58 PM PST

the second monitor connected


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Connect the second monitor
by ziptie / February 4, 2011 12:44 AM PST

then systen preference, displays, arrangement, then check Mirror Displays. This will turn off extended display and both monitors will show the exact same thing. good luck

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How I Solved It
by hburns16 / March 19, 2012 4:25 AM PDT

With the application up and running, I changed the resolution lower on the offending monitor. The un-reachable window popped back to the middle of the screen. Move it slightly to insure the new location, and let the resolution go back to what you want.

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Try deleting "
by ziptie / March 26, 2012 5:20 AM PDT
In reply to: How I Solved It

System Preferences can get corrupted, or if there was a second display it got stuck there. The PLIST file deleteion will reset your settings.

Macintosh HD / Users / YOU / Library / Preferences /

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Problem with that
by Jimmy Greystone / March 26, 2012 6:11 AM PDT

Problem with that, is that in 10.7 ~/Library is a hidden folder.

You could, as one possible work around, right click the finder icon on the left side of the dock, select Go To Folder... then type in (minus quotes) "~/Library" or even "~/Library/Preferences" and hit the Go button. Plus the ~/ is a handy shortcut for the whole Macintosh HD / Users / <Your User Name> business. Mac OS X is based on Unix, so may as well use that to your advantage whenever possible, like using a shortcut to signify your home directory.

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Or you could go to Finder Preference
by ziptie / March 26, 2012 9:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Problem with that

and set your HDD, or any drive to stay on your desktop, at all times. I did this on day one with Lion, right after I fixed the inverted scrolling.

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by dianaazura1 / July 13, 2015 4:37 AM PDT

then systen preference, displays, arrangement, then check Mirror Displays. This will turn off extended display and both monitors will show the exact same thing. good luck

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THANK YOU!!!! This worked for me!
by Patrick4011 / August 15, 2012 7:08 AM PDT
In reply to: How I Solved It


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Changing resolution solved it
by bob32256 / November 22, 2012 1:26 AM PST
In reply to: How I Solved It

I struggled with this for hours before finding hburns16's post. My resolution was already set on 1440x900. I tried several lower resolutions that did not work. Then I tried the next lower resolution - 1344x840. The lost app appeared, I dragged it to the center of the screen, changed the resolution, and the problem was solved.

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Bringing Misplaced Off Screen Applications back MacBook Pro
by Tom_Baster / July 25, 2012 6:43 AM PDT

My system : Macbook pro (10.6.8) + Samsung 52cm monitor (the width across the bottom).

Problem : when using Scribus on the larger monitor and then closing it when it is still on that monitor- when I reopen the programme it is off screen completely.

Solution : unplug the larger monitor (the programme is still open) - the programme reappears on the notebook screen - replug in the larger monitor and move it back across for use. Before closing move it back to the notebook screen.

This predictably works for me

I hope this helps others with this problem

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for anyone else still having this issue
by Smoked1 / November 4, 2012 5:05 AM PST

This is an incredibly simple thing i did but a program opened off screen for me and i was unable to drag it,
i pressed F3 which brings up an open window summary of sorts then clicked on the application i wanted and it had brought the dragable bar into reach.

this is an old thread but i had this problem and my search brought me here so it is a useful post imho.

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Just fixed my issue
by Nishwick / June 15, 2015 2:12 PM PDT

Go to SYSTE PREFERENCES, click DISPLAYS, change RESOLUTION to the SCALED option, and choose a MORE SPACE. Drag your 'hidden' file to the right, and change the scale back to DEFAULT. All good.

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