Work smarter: connect your Mac to an additional display (2023)

Apparently, the more screen real estate you have, the more efficient you work. So why not add a second (or even third) screen to your Mac? In this article, we'll help you figure out which adapter you need to connect your Mac to an additional external monitor (or even more than one) and how to set it all up.

While it's usually easy to set up an additional monitor, there are some issues that can cause your Mac not to recognize your monitor. Therefore, below we will also provide solutions to these problems.

It's also possible to use an iPad as a second screen, an option Apple added in macOS Catalina and later improved in macOS Monterey. This might be for you if you don't already have an external display, but keep in mind that you'll need a compatible Mac and a compatible iPad. we look uphow to use your iPad as a monitor for your macin a separate article, along with the iPads and Macs that support this feature. In Monterey, Apple has added the ability to use a keyboard and mouse with two Macs or a Mac and an iPad, which can accommodate your new way of working. For more information, see:How to Use the Same Mouse and Keyboard with Two Macs.

Another thing to keep in mind if you want to add two external displays to your Mac is that while some Macs can support up to five additional displays, Mac M1s, including the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, can only support one display. .additional: Although there is a solution, please read:How to connect two or more external displays to Apple M1 Mac.You might also be interested inhow to use an old iMac as a second screen.

How to Connect an External Monitor to a Mac

This is one of those things that should be easy, but as Apple has changed ports on Macs over the years, it can be difficult to know which ports you really need to connect a monitor to your Mac, with ports on the back or on the display to determine which connector is needed there.

Fortunately, once you know which cable you need to connect your MacBook to your monitor, it should be a breeze.

The steps are relatively easy, but as you'll see, the first step is the hardest!

  1. Identify which Apple adapter and cable you need to connect your Mac and display by following the instructions in the Which port section below.
  2. plug it in
  3. Open System Preferences > Display.
  4. Click on the Matrix tab.
  5. Do not check the Mirror displays box (unless you want the second screen to show the same content as the original screen).
  6. Drag the displayed screens to the desired layout.
  7. A white menu bar will appear at the top of one of the screens. Drag this white bar to the screen you want to dominate.
  8. If you want to mirror the screen on both (or more), go to System Preferences > Display > Layout and select Mirrored Screens.
  9. You can also select "Show mirroring options in menu bar when available" and you'll see a status menu in the menu bar, making it easy to turn it on and off.

The options are a little different when connecting a desktop Mac like a Mac mini to a monitor, as it doesn't have its own display. When adding a second monitor to a Mac mini, you'll see something like this:

As with the options for connecting a monitor to a MacBook, if you connect more than one monitor to a Mac mini, you'll notice the white block at the top of one of the screens. You can click and drag it to the screen you want to use as the main screen.

You can also adjust the position of each screen to reflect its placement on the desktop. So when you drag your mouse from one screen to another, you know where it's shown.

If you have an Apple TV or similarAirPlay compatible TV, you can also use AirPlay to send the output of the second screen to your TV screen. This is how to do it:How to Display Your Mac's Screen on a TV.

If you're using your Mac with an external display and want to close the lid on your MacBook, see:How to use a MacBook with the lid closed to put a closed Mac to sleep.

What is my Mac port?

As we've said before, the hardest part of connecting a display to your Mac is figuring out which cable to connect between your Mac and display.

The cable you need depends on your Mac model and display type. Apple has implemented a few different types of connectors over the years, and your desktop Mac or MacBook may have one of the following: HDMI, USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, 4, 2, or Mini Display. We will help you below to identify the port you have.


There are some Macs that come with an HDMI port, including the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro released in 2021 and the 2020 Mac mini with an M1 chip. HDMI ports are commonly found on TVs, making these Macs a popular choice for anyone setting up a media center PC.

Macs with an HDMI port include:

  • MiniMac
  • MacBook Pro 14 inch (2021)
  • MacBook Pro 16 inch (2021)
  • Mac Studio (2022)

You'll also find an HDMI port on older Mac mini models and the mid-2012 to 2015 MacBook Pro.

Thunderbolt 3 (e USB-C)

Thunderbolt 3 is a supercharged version of USB-C with a bandwidth of 40Gbps compared to USB-C's 5Gbps to 10Gbps.

The Thunderbolt 3 connection has the same look and feel as USB-C and is backwards compatible with USB-C, so you can use any USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 equipped display with your Mac. You can also use any USB-C cable. C to connect your Mac to your monitor.

Macs with a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port include:

  • MacBook Pro 13 inch (2020)
  • MacBook Air (2020)
  • 24-inch iMac (2021)
  • Mac mini M1 (2020)

As of late 2016, you'll also find Thunderbolt 3 on Macs.

Thunderbolt 4 (e USB-C)

In some modern Macs, Apple includes Thunderbolt 4, which, like Thunderbolt 3, uses the same connector as USB-C (and USB 4, which we'll discuss below). The connector looks identical to the Thunderbolt 3 connector (above) and is fully backward compatible.

In fact, Thunderbolt 4 is not that different from Thunderbolt 3. The main reason why Thunderbolt 4 exists is that some laptops were not able to support the full 40Gbps bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3.


However, there are some benefits of Thunderbolt 4 that Mac users can take advantage of: Each Thunderbolt 4 port can support two 4K displays or one 8K display.

Macs with a Thunderbolt 4 port include:

  • MacBook Pro 14 inch (2021)
  • MacBook Pro 16 inch (2021)
  • Mac Studio (2022)


There is not much difference between USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4, and Thunderbolt 4 devices support USB 4. Thunderbolt 4 always has a total bandwidth of 40 Gbps, while USB 4 starts at 20 Gbps but also goes up to 40 Gbps/ s can reach Thunderbolt 4. One USB 4 port can only support one monitor, while Thunderbolt 4 can support two 4K monitors.Learn about Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4.

  • Mac mini M1 (2020)
  • MacBook Air (2020)
  • MacBook Pro 13 inch (2020)
  • MacBook Pro 14 inch (2021)
  • MacBook Pro 16 inch (2021)
  • 24-inch iMac (2021)
  • Mac Studio (2022)

Beam 1 or 2

Thunderbolt first appeared on Macs around 2011, then Apple introduced Thunderbolt 2 in 2013. The Thunderbolt connector looks the same as the Mini DisplayPort (below) and is backward compatible with that connector. If you see a Thunderbolt icon in addition to what looks like a Mini DisplayPort, your Mac has a Thunderbolt port.

If your Mac is from 2011 to about 2016, it probably offers Thunderbolt 1 or 2 instead of Mini DisplayPort, although the two are compatible.


The Mini DisplayPort was announced by Apple in late 2008. With an adapter, the Mini DisplayPort can control monitors with VGA, DVI or HDMI interfaces.

For more information on ports, here is a summary of some of them.The different types of Apple connectors.

What connection does my monitor have?

Now that you've determined which port your Mac has, you need to check the port on your monitor. We'll go through all the options below. You also need to confirm one more thing:

Is the port male or female?

You need to check whether the connection on the back of the screen has female or male terminals. For example, the NEC MyltiSync E243WMI we used had a female connector, so we had to make sure the adapter we bought had male connectors.


HDMI supports up to eight channels of audio. HDMI 2.1 supports resolutions up to 8k and higher. HDMI is the most common connector you'll find on the back of a TV.

As mentioned, there are some Macs that come with an HDMI port, in which case you only need an HDMI to HDMI cable to connect your monitor to your Mac. If your Mac doesn't have an HDMI port, you just need an adapter.

Thunderbolt 4 ou USB 4

There are monitors like the Lenovo ThinkVision P27u-20 that have Thunderbolt 4 docking capabilities. This port is not unlike the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port.

Thunderbolt 3, USB-C ou USB 3

There are probably more monitors with USB-C ports than Thunderbolt 3 ports, although Thunderbolt is faster and can use more power. USB-equipped displays are also likely to be less expensive than Thunderbolt options. Sometimes you'll find a USB 3 or USB 3.1 port, which is the same port but the ancestor of USB-C.

Since the Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports are the same, if your Mac has one, you can use a USB-C cable to connect the monitor to your Mac.

Beam 1 or 2

If you purchased the Apple Thunderbolt Display, which was discontinued in 2016, your display has a Thunderbolt 2 connector as shown above.


A VGA connector requires a 3-row, 15-pin DE-15 connector. VGA connectors carry analog signals.

Older CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors were VGA, but there are flat panel monitors that use VGA; You simply convert the analog signal from the VGA connection to digital. This conversion from digital to analog and vice versa can degrade the video quality. VGA transmits HD video, but only analog audio.


DVI offers higher signal quality than VGA because it is a digital signal. You will see a clear difference when watching HD video compared to VGA.

A DVI connection has the potential for 24 pins, depending on whether it is DVI-A, DVI-D or DVI-I, different connections with different numbers of pins are used. There is also a long pin that can be surrounded by four other pins (needed for audio on older models).


If you have one of Apple's LED Cinema Displays, introduced in 1999 and replaced by the Thunderbolt Display in 2011, your display will have a Mini DisplayPort connector as shown above.

The Best Cable, Adapter, or Dongle for Connecting a Mac to a Display

Now that you've determined which port your Mac and monitor have, you need to find a cable to connect your Mac to the monitor. This cable doesn't have to be from Apple, but it does need to have the correct connections. Another thing that might matter to you is cable length. It's no use connecting your Mac to a monitor if the cable or adapter is too short. Keep in mind that you need enough cables to run from the back of the screen to the port on your Mac.

Below are our recommendations for the best cables and adapters for connecting a display to your Mac.

If the number of ports on your Mac is limited and you want to connect two additional 4K displays to your Mac, you might benefit from a dock. A dock also offers more ports like USB, Ethernet and card readers. We have several recommendations inAs melhores docking station para MacBooks, like themMiniDock CalDigit Thunderbolt 3sob.

Of course, a cable doesn't have to cost that much. If you don't want to buy a dock, you'll have to work with the available ports. Depending on the port you have on your Mac and your monitor, we recommend the following:


As we mentioned earlier, some Macs come with an HDMI port. In that case, you can use an HDMI cable to connect an HDMI display to your Mac, like this Belkin High Speed ​​4K UltraHD HDMI Cable priced at£29.95 from Apple EE. UU.Ö$29.95 from Apple EE. UU..

Pantalla USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 e USB-C

We recommend Apple'sKabel USB-C/Thunderbolt 3if you have a Thunderbolt 3 compatible display.£39 at the UK Apple Storej$39 at the US Apple Store..

Apple sells a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C cable here for£39 at the UK Apple Storej$39 at the US Apple Store..

Pantalla USB-C/Thunderbolt e HDMI

Among others AppleUSB-C-Digital-AV-Multiport-Adapter(£75/$69) lets you connect a Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac to an HDMI display. You will still need a separate HDMI to HDMI cable (exIt's from Belkin) to do it. Apple also sells several HDMI adapters.Apple Store in the UKE noUS-Apple-Store.

If you have a monitor that supports standard HDMI, we recommend that youSix USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 cables for HDMI cablefrom the University ($17 / £16.99)

Avoid USB-C and VGA

The Apple VGA USB-C Multiport Adapter lets you connect to a VGA monitor or projector. As this is an analog connection, HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) content is not supported. This includes HD movies from the iTunes Store.

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter is available for£75 at the UK Apple StoreÖ$69 at the US Apple Store..

Apple sells several VGA adapters(Apple UKÖApple E. UNS.),including a USB-C to VGA multiport adapter(£ 75j$ 69) and a Belkin USB-C to VGA adapter (£ 27,95j29,95 $).

Tela USB-C e DVI

Apple doesn't sell one, but you can find a USB-C to DVI adapter on Amazon, like this Benfei USB-C to DVI cable (£12.99 on Amazon UKÖ$11.85 at Amazon EE. UU.). We can't confirm if it works, but it says it's for MacBook, so we assume it works.

USB-C and Mini DisplayPort pantalla

Apple doesn't make a USB-C to Mini DisplayPort adapter, so you can't connect a 2016 or later MacBook Pro to the old Apple Cinema Display or any other display that uses a Mini DisplayPort. However, you can find a cable or adapter on Amazon.

Pantalla Mini DisplayPort and HDMI

Apple does not manufacture a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter, but does sell the Belkin 4K Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter for a£29.95 at the UK Apple Storej$34.95 at the US Apple Store..

Adaptador Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) e Thunderbolt 2

The Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter can be used to connect a Thunderbolt display to a new Mac.£49 at the UK Apple Storej$49 at the US Apple Store.

How to Connect a Third Monitor to a Mac

In theory, you shouldn't be able to connect a monitor to a USB port, but some companies have treated this as a technical challenge. the matroxDualHead2Go e TripleHead2Goallows connection of up to two or three external monitors. They do this by extending the standard DVI/HDMI video output of a Mac or PC with data provided over a USB 2.0/3.0 connection.

To find out if your Mac is compatible, seeMatrox Mac compatibility list, where you can also find out the maximum possible output resolutions; You're unlikely to be able to run all three displays at 1080p, for example.

Diamant-MultimediaGama-UVBallows you to power a separate external monitor using just one USB 2.0 port. For example, by connecting one to a MacBook Pro, you can have up to three displays: one built-in, one via existing DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort, and one via USB.

There are also some off-brand devices on eBay and Amazon that offer the same features as the Diamond product and are cheaper to boot, but be sure to check Mac compatibility.USB e DVI HDMI.

All of the above solutions are a bit hacky. We haven't tested it either, but we're pretty sure the performance won't be as good as with a directly connected monitor. 3D games are definitely out of the question, and video playback in anything other than standard definition is likely to be choppy. However, putting your email or Twitter app, for example, on a separate screen should do the trick.

Troubleshooting a Second Screen

There are a number of issues that can arise with display settings. Here we address some of them. Let us know if you have other solutions or problems.

Mac does not recognize the monitor

When you connect your monitor and Mac, the monitor should be automatically recognized. But what should you do if this is not the case?

If your Mac isn't working with the display, try the following:

  1. Check the cable, make sure it is connected correctly.
  2. Make sure the monitor is connected.
  3. Make sure your software is up to date.

If the above doesn't work, try these steps:

  1. Connect your monitor and Mac and open System Preferences > Display.
  2. Press the Alt/Option key: this should bring up the Detect Screens button.
  3. Click Detect Monitors - this should make your Mac see the external monitor.

Still no luck? There's another reason your Mac might not work with an external display: Apple made changes to macOS in the past that prevented some third-party adapters from working with additional displays. For example, when Apple released macOS Sierra in September 2016, many had trouble getting a second screen to work with certain adapters. If your display isn't working with your Mac, the first thing to do is check your adapter.

External monitor will not work with a Mini DisplayPort adapter

If your adapter is not made by Apple, this could be the problem. Prior to macOS Sierra, it was possible to use a third-party Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter with a Mac, but when Sierra was released in 2016, Mac users who relied on this setup found that their displays stopped working with their Mac.

The only solution in this case is to buy an Apple adapter like one of those listed above.

If you have an Apple adapter and your external display isn't working, try the following:

  1. Unplug the adapter for a few seconds.
  2. Plug it back in and see if the problem persists.
  3. Unplug the adapter again and turn off the monitor.
  4. If it still doesn't work, reconnect the cable and turn off the screen.
  5. If the screen still doesn't work when you turn it back on, click the Apple logo and choose Hibernate.
  6. Wait a few minutes and move your mouse or tap your keyboard to wake up your Mac.
  7. If that doesn't work, restart your computer.
  8. Try adjusting the screen's brightness or contrast if it's off.
  9. Go to System Preferences > Display and try selecting a different resolution.
  10. If that still doesn't work, try restarting your Mac in Safe Mode and resetting your screen resolution to default.
  11. Another option isReset NVRAM and SMC on Mac.

DVI adapter does not match port

There are a few possible reasons why the Apple Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter may not be compatible with your display.

There are more than one type of DVI adapter and the one you have is likely different from the adapter you are using. For example, you might need space for four analog ports on the flat panel.

If your problem is that you have two female or two male ports, then the solution is to buy a male to female adapter.

Cable between the two devices too small? You should be able to connect your adapter to your monitor using a third-party cable. Just make sure you have the correct port type.

iPad not working as a second screen

Thought about using an iPad as a second display with your Mac with macOS Catalina installed and found it didn't work? It's probably because your iPad or Mac doesn't support the sidecar feature.

iPads that work with Sidecar include:

12.9 inch iPad Pro
iPad Pro 11 inch
10.5 inch iPad Pro
9.7 inch iPad Pro
iPad (6th Generation)
iPad (5th Generation)
iPad Mini (5th Generation)
Mini iPad 4
iPad Air (3rd Generation)
iPad area 2

Macs that work with Sidecar include:

MacBook Pro (2016 or later)
MacBook (2016 or later)
MacBook Air (2018 ou posterior)
iMac (2016 or newer and Late 2015 27-inch iMac 5K)
iMac Pro
Mac mini (2018 or later)
Mac Pro (2019)

We have more information aboutUse an iPad as a second screen for your Mac here. Furthermore, we go throughWhat is Universal Control and how Universal Control worksseparated.

If you want to use a second monitor with your Mac and not see your Mac's screen:How to Turn Off a Mac's Screen.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Stevie Stamm

Last Updated: 04/15/2023

Views: 6595

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Stevie Stamm

Birthday: 1996-06-22

Address: Apt. 419 4200 Sipes Estate, East Delmerview, WY 05617

Phone: +342332224300

Job: Future Advertising Analyst

Hobby: Leather crafting, Puzzles, Leather crafting, scrapbook, Urban exploration, Cabaret, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is Stevie Stamm, I am a colorful, sparkling, splendid, vast, open, hilarious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.