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OS X Mavericks: Multiple Display Support

Last updated 2013-10-26 - Send Feedback
Related: Apple macOS, computer display

For reference, the MPG Pro Workstation Mac Pro uses dual 30-inch displays as shown here: one 30" display in portrait orientation at left, and one 30" main screen in landscape orientation. This arrangement offers a highly efficient arrangement for many hours of computer work.

OS X Mavericks makes changes to the multiple-display support. But as with previous OS X releases, the changes still have not been thought through, and they also come with new bugs.

Dual 30-inch displays as arranged for MPG daily workhorse machine: secondary display is vertical at left


Menu bar appears on both displays

By default the menu bar is now drawn on all displays*. It looks normal on the “current” display, and dims gray on the others; this is related to mouse position in a way, but is more than that: mouse position plus which window it is over; the net result is quite confusing at first. Especially since the behavior does not work properly (frequently dim when it ought not to be, e.g., a bug).

Grayed-out menu bar with active window status is confusing

A solid reason for a 2nd display has to do with an uncluttered work environment, so the second menu bar becomes an intrusive nuisance (and in my setup shown above, it’s simply too far at top to mouse-up to, so it’s not even useful in the slightest).

The additional menu bar(s) can be disabled by unchecking the Displays have separate Spaces option in Mission Control**.

But it’s not that simple; there are two menu bar behaviors, both with issues:

  • One traditional menu bar: entering full screen mode hides the contents of all other displays.
  • Menu bar on every display: entering full screen mode does os

This is nitwit design (“simplicity of choice” making for all bad combinations). It makes full screen mode almost as useless as in previous OS X releases. Still, if one can tolerate multiple menu bars, that is a small improvement.

* Lack of attention to detail: the second iconized display above does not show a menu bar also. It ought to show a slightly dimmed menu bar on the display at left, which is the actual situation.

** Why is menu bar hide/show in Mission Control to begin with, since one drags the menu bar in Displays control panel? And how would one possibly guess from the wording that the menu bar is affected, since there is no mention of the menu bar at all? Again, it shows weak design thinking.

Mission Control: uncheck “Displays have separate spaces” to eliminate additional menu bars


Various issues related to full screen mode and window position.

  • When I start Safari, it always puts the window on the main screen. But I always use Safari on a 2nd and vertical 30-inch display. Safari always forgets the browser window on the second vertical 30-inch display and shoves itself back onto the main display (horizontal 30" display). Dual display support goes from broken to more broken. Now I have to drag the Safari window to my 2nd display EVERY ***S_$#$&#$*$&*$ time. Yet Google Chrome works properly in this scenario, but Safari does not. Except that invoking it from the command line fixed the problem. And then the problem comes back—some loose screws are present.
  • Activity Monitor also forgets its window location for the CPU history, and insists on moving it to the main screen every time. So maybe this is a system bug. Looks like I will be spending time every day dragging windows back to the location I desire, many times. Except that after 10-15 minutes, the window position bugs seem to fix themselves (I tried 5-10 times prior!).
  • Option-clicking from one app to another does not work if the current app is in full screen mode (should hide window, does not).
  • Full screen mode is still broken for practical uses; it does not allow full-screen on one display without entirely hiding the contents of the other (my premise (debatable perhaps) is that full screen ought to apply to the display on which the window is located, only—wiping out the other screens is anti-useful).
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