Did You know
- To designate one of your monitors as the main screen, open the Apple menu by clicking the Apple logo at the top left of your screen > Click on System Preferences > Then Displays > Then click on the Arrangement Tab.
- Now place the white bar above the screen you want to use as the main screen.
In this article, you will not only learn how to connect your MacBook (or iMac) to an external screen but also how to connect two screens too, for example, your desktop or the Mac Mini.
Choosing the right Monitor to connect it to your MacBook
Before we start looking to the steps you need to take to connect an external monitor to your Mac, I thought about emphasizing the importance of choosing the right monitor for your MacBook.
And to be honest, It can be quite tricky to choose the right monitor for your Mac and for your workspace. Especially if it’s the first time that you purchase a second screen for your Mac. Not only because you need to consider some external factors, such as the size of the monitor, the flexibility, etc.), but also because you want to have the right resolution, accurate colors, and a flexible screen. That last one is especially important if you work from home.
Plus, it plays also a role when you buy the monitor for whether your iMac or for your MacBook. Because an iMac has already a built-in screen. In that case you want to purchase a monitor that bears similarities to your iMac. Think of the size, color accuracy, and more.
If you’re buying a monitor for your MacBook, you want to have a large 4K screen to see the color rendering of your MacBook on your monitor. Many monitors promise bright colors, but in reality, they do not match the brightness and density of those of a MacBook.
It is also important to know whether the monitor you are going to purchase accepts the right inputs and comes with the right cables. Most monitor providers insert VGA or DVI cables into the box. In that case, I would really advise against using a VGA cable as it does not guarantee the correct pixel display.
Good To Know
It is important to know whether the monitor you are going to purchase accepts the right inputs and comes with the right cables. Avoid VGA as it won’t offer you the right pixel view.
While having the right ports isn’t the biggest problem, of course, it’s useful not to buy adapters again to eventually pair your MacBook with your screen.
On the other hand, if you have a monitor that only has an HDMI input and your MacBook has a USB-C connection, then it’s not the end of the world either. You can easily solve this problem by purchasing a USB-C hub that incorporates an HDMI port. This way you can easily connect your Monitor to your MacBook using.b an HDMI cable.
In any case, you’ll find an image that shows multiple ports that Apple implemented in their MacBook creation in the past years. So if all those port names confuse you, see here an image that illustrates most ports Apple used in the previous MacBook models.
That being said, nowadays all new MacBooks have just an USB-C port that can be used to connect an external Monitor through it.
How to know if your Mac supports the type of monitor
If you’re still in your buying phase and you want to purchase a monitor for your MacBook (or iMac), it’s good to check if your potential monitor can handle the resolution of a Mac. While most Macs can display 1080p on multiple screens, that doesn’t apply to all Macs. For example, an outdated MacBook would not be able to handle an additional 4K monitor.
Do the following to see if Mac supports the type of monitor you want to purchase
- First, go to Apple’s website.
- Then click on support in the menu section.
- Then enter the model or year of your Mac in the search field.
- Then you look for the technical specifications of this Mac. This is usually at the top.
- And finally, find and click on the technical specifications of your Mac.
- Here you will find the graphics support and display features of your Mac. In this example, this Mac can support an external display of a maximum of 2560 x 1600 pixels.
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How To Arrange The Displays Once You’ve Connected The External Monitor To Your MacBook?
As soon as you have purchased your desired monitor or ordered the necessary parts, the setting up of your monitor starts. Now, you must turn on the monitor and connect it using Thunderbolt or Displayport from your Mac.
At this step, it is important to be logged into your MacBook (or iMac) and both screens need to be turned on.
Now your Mac’s display will be mirrored on your (new) monitor. You may not want this as you will have two screens displaying the same thing. Most don’t go for such a setup.
So what to do to fix this?
Very simple. Open the Apple menu by clicking the Apple logo at the top left of your screen > Click then on System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement Tab. Now place the white bar above the screen that you want to use as the main screen.
Both screens will go black for a moment. After a moment, both screens will come back only now you will have two desktops: both will have the menu bar, but only one has the dock. The screen that has the dock will be your main screen.
When arranging your screens, you can decide which monitor will be your main screen. You can move the blue screens to mimic the way the screens are set up on your desk.
You can move the white bar at the top of one of your blue screens accordingly to determine your main screen. This white bar represents the menu at the top of your screen.
Use your iMac as a second Monitor
Did you know that you can use an iMac as a second screen? So if you still have one at home, you can use it as a second screen for your MacBook.
It would be best to have a MacBook with a DisplayPort or a Thunderbolt built-in, the iMac you want to use as a second screen, and the right cables. See here how to use your iMac as a second screen by pairing it with your MacBook. Here you will also find which type of iMac and MacBook are suitable for this setup.
Once you have connected your iMac to your MacBook, all you have to do is click Command and F2 to enable the so-called Target Display Mode. It ensures that your MacBook only considers your iMac as a display. Nothing more and nothing less.