I have an external monitor attached to my laptop via HDMI. The monitor is mounted above my laptop so they are positioned in a vertical format. If my laptop is the primary screen, then I can't drag any windows to the above monitor - they stop when they hit the task bar. And if I make my external monitor the primary, then when I detach my laptop, it doesn't adjust to being the only monitor (all the wing panel and task bar etc... stay on the external monitor) leaving me unable to do anything.

1 Answer 1


(This might be a bug, but on my system, Loki's Displays settings do not naturally let users stack screens atop each other, either with the secondary directly above the primary or vice versa, though I can futz around with it to make it work.)

Push to the left/right

Not being able to drag the window through the menu bar is likely by design—that would be a confusing scenario when the menu bar goes solid. So let's fix your second scenario, where you set the external monitor (the one on top) as the primary. Firstly, that your laptop's monitor does not regain control as the primary when the external is disconnected, so I reported it as a bug you can follow here.

Until it's patched, you'll have to either change the setting manually in your Displays settings or run a command as needed to reset your connected monitor as the primary:

  1. If you're ever out of options (nothing to click on) and need a terminal, press Ctrl+Alt+F1, which should bring up a TTY screen. (Press Ctrl+Alt+F7 to return.)
  2. Run xrandr -q to see all connected monitors and pick the one you want to target (not sure what it would be called for an internal screen [report back?] but mine is "HDMI-0", for instance)
  3. Run xrandr --output HDMI-0 --primary to set a specific screen (HDMI-0) as the primary

I'll report back when the bug is addressed.

  • 1
    thanks for the info. I also noticed about not being able to stack the monitors - at least not in 1 try. I had to first get them vertical - but off center and Apply, then center them vertically and hit Apply again. Definitely some kind of Bug happening because this worked perfectly with .3 Freya
    – John S
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 21:41
  • 1
    oh - and the whole preferred scenario of having the laptop screen as primary, but still being able to drag stuff up on to the external monitor above - worked perfectly in Freya, and still works perfectly in other Distros (like Mint 18)
    – John S
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 21:46
  • @JohnS over a system menu bar?
    – wolf
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 21:48
  • yes. I have always run my laptop display as the primary, and the external monitor as secondary. The "start" button, task bar, indicators etc have always been at the top of my laptop screen, but I still had no trouble dragging windows up on to the other screen.
    – John S
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 22:00
  • the best work around for me was to configure the external monitor to lie at the bottom of primary and use the build-in as primary. So it does not match the physical reality. But I just need to mentally reverse top/bottom relation. I wish I could treat the external display as 'workspace' so I can use also useful keyboard shortcuts (send a window to my external monitor).
    – otterb
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 7:34

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