How do I get OS X to “forget” where I've accidently moved a window?
August 16, 2006 4:44 AM   Subscribe

How do I get OS X to “forget” where I've accidently moved a window?

I had an application running dead-center on my screen, until I accidently moved the window. I've tried reseting preferences, clear caches, deleting folders critical to the application, et cetera. I've done just about everything short of calling Apple, reinstalling the program, reinstalling OS X, and throwing my computer out the window.

I just want the window manager, Finder or whatever daemon is doing this to forget my transgressions and move the window back to the original position—center of the screen. But apparently, somewhere in the bowels of OS X, my iniquities are chiseled in stone.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions, thanks! Much appreciated.
posted by Colloquial Collision to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Window positions are controlled by the application, and behaviours vary between applications, so this is unanswerable without knowing the application, and even then you're probably better off contacting the app developer than us.
posted by cillit bang at 4:50 AM on August 16, 2006

Are you saying that when you move the app window to your preferred position (center of screen), it returns to some unacceptable place on next launch?

What is the offending app?
posted by Steve3 at 5:30 AM on August 16, 2006

First, try trashing the app's preferences file. If that doesn't work, reinstall the app. In any case, the OS has nothing to do with it.
posted by jjg at 5:40 AM on August 16, 2006

Heh. I've had this happen.
The easiest way to rectify this is by going into the Window menu and hitting Zoom. That'll bounce it back down to the default position, and you can resize it from there.
But yeah, Firefox does that to me sometimes when I'm just clicking on a tab. It's an unholy pain in the ass. Or when I'm trying to axe popups. Ugh.
posted by klangklangston at 5:49 AM on August 16, 2006

The way applications are written, window positions are stored in the preferences file. Either you didn't delete the preferences file while the application is closed — check again — or the developer is using an ill-advised, non-standard practice for maintaining state.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:57 AM on August 16, 2006

Best answer: The application's preferences will be stored in your user folder, then Library, then Preferences. If the company that makes the application is at, look for a file called "com.somecompany.applicationname.plist". Make sure the program isn't running.

Sometimes you can open a plist with a text editor like BBEdit, but most newer ones are in a binary format that requires a special editor. I use PlistEdit Pro, which isn't free, but has a trial period that should get things working for you at this point.

If you dig around in the plist file, you may be able to find a line or section that has window boundaries and the like. You can either edit the numbers or delete the section (backing up a copy first, of course).

Another option, as other people have mentioned, is just to trash that plist file entirely. But that will mean you'll lose all your other settings and preferences and possibly your registration if you paid for the program. So make sure you jot down your settings and your reg number if necessary.
posted by bcwinters at 7:04 AM on August 16, 2006

If being "center-screen" is so important in this application, it should have a menu option or button that will snap it back to center.

I am wondering why any application needs to be pixel-perfect center to work? This smells like the worst kind of UI design. I always move my windows around just for fun (it's so smooth on osx). Any application which tried to interfere would invoke a torrent of angry emails from me to the developer.
posted by clord at 8:22 AM on August 16, 2006

Does the Arrange in Front option appear in the Window menu when you press the Option (some people call it alt) key? If that's a Cocoa application you're using, that menu option should put the window back in the middle of the screen. Make sure the Dock is hidden while you do so, because it affects the position that is considered to be the middle.
posted by lstryder at 1:49 PM on August 16, 2006

Response by poster:
I'm sorry everyone, I apologize. I didn't know enough about OS X to really understand what went wrong.

Everyone is correct, the preferences for the window location were contained in the Plist file. The problem wasn't OS X, or the application (well, it is the application, but the application didn't move itself). And, for whatever reason, I've always assumed the Plist file was contained in the .app folder of a program, being essentially un-editable without going into the Terminal or reinstalling the program.

Simple deleting the Plist file did it. Everything is back to normal and okay.

clord writes "I am wondering why any application needs to be pixel-perfect center to work? This smells like the worst kind of UI design."

It's not the application, it my anal-retentive personal preference. With my workspace I like this application to be front and center.

So, thank you everyone. I come to Ask MeFi with a question, the question gets answered, I learn more, and come away with a better understanding of the issue and my OS.
posted by Colloquial Collision at 5:31 PM on August 16, 2006

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