Whether for work or personal use, having additional screen space opens up a world of possibilities. Whatever the reasoning, if you connect an external monitor to your Mac – be it a MacBook Pro, MacBook, or MacBook Air – this reduces or eliminates the feeling of limitations that comes with any single-screen Mac computer.
Find the right dongles or cables
In addition to needing an actual monitor to use as an external display, there is one more component that you really need. the straight cables or dongles are required depending on your MacBook old or new computer. If you have a Mac from 2012 to 2015, you definitely need a good HDMI cable.
If you don’t have a Mac between those previous years, you may need something more specialized. MacBook computers with DisplayPort require their own compatible dongles and cables to connect to an external monitor.
A Thunderbolt cable will be required for any external monitor designed for MacBook or for a multitude of non-MacBook monitor models available. The last two are two important USB-C crowd connections that need a compatible dongle / cable to operate.
Thunderbolt 3 compatible monitors are also a good choice, as these cables will charge your laptop in addition to being used as an external display. This guide on the Apple website make sure to select the correct cable for your computer.
Using an external monitor
Assuming you have all the right cables, physically adding an external monitor is as simple as plugging it in and placing it on a desk. Initially, your monitor should reflect everything on your MacBook computer. This is where you need to organize the two views so that you can easily drag windows and files from one screen to another.
To get started, go to the Apple logo at the top left of your screen and click on it. From the drop-down menu, choose System Preferences. On the System Preferences screen, choose “Displays”, which should be the first icon to the left of the last line. When the pop-up window appears, click on “Arrangement”. Assuming you only have two screens (a MacBook, an external one), you should see two blue rectangles, one for each display. The MacBook “host” is shown with a white border at the top. What are your options at this point?
1. Your the first option is to mirror your MacBook display on your external monitor. This can be good for someone who just wants more real estate but will be distracted by multiple windows.
2. Uncheck “Mirror Displays” and you can use the MacBook screen and the external monitor as two separate displays.
3. For optimal performance, the best positioning is to align the monitors the way they are positioned in real life. If you have the external monitor in front of you and the MacBook to the right or left, organize the displays this way. All you have to do is drag the blue screens until they are properly positioned.
4. If you prefer that the external monitor be used as the “main”, click on the white bar and move it to the other screen. Note that the application that serves as the main display is also the one that will receive the application notifications.
5. For anyone wondering what is happening to the dock, it should appear in the screen where the mouse cursor is located.
6. That’s it. You have completed the configuration and can now configure and modify the contents of your heart.
Using Sidecar with your iPad
An iPad may not be a traditional monitor, but the release of macOS Catalina has added a new feature, Sidecar. This functionality allows the iPad to serve as an additional screen for your computer. For this to work, you will need a supported macOS computer from the list on Apple’s website. You will also need an iPad running iPadOS 13. This includes the latest models of iPad Pro, iPad (6th generation or later), fifth generation iPad mini and third generation iPad Air.
Sidecar’s configuration is the same for wireless and wired connections. Using a wired connection is as simple as using a USB-C cable or a Lightning cable to connect the two.
To activate Sidecar, make sure your iPad is on and near your MacBook. On the MacBook, look for the AirPlay button near the menu bar in the upper-right corner of the screen. It looks like an upward-pointing rectangle inside a box. You should now see the iPad you want to use as an external monitor in the drop-down menu.
In the same menu, click on the iPad and select it. The two should immediately connect and start working. You can now move windows from your MacBook to your iPad to use them as a secondary screen.
With many people now working from home, the demand for an external monitor is greater than ever. If you are considering buying a portable monitor, here are some of the best you should check out.
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