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How to Use Multiple Monitors on Your Mac



  A MacBook next to an iMac on a wood desk.
Krisda / Shutterstock.com

Would you like to be more productive on your Mac? If you add another monitor, you will spend less time switching between spaces, tabs, and windows. With Catalina, you can even use an iPad as a second monitor with the new "Sidecar" feature.

Selecting a Monitor

First, you must select the correct monitor for the job. Your budget plays a big role here. So first decide what you want to spend and what features are most important to you.

Before deciding on a monitor, keep in mind the following:

  • Resolution : This is the number of pixels displayed simultaneously on the screen, measured on two axes (for example, 1
    920×1080). In general, the higher the resolution, the better the image quality. Higher resolutions like 4K and 5K require more powerful hardware.
  • Size : Most screens have a size of about 27 inches. Smaller 24-inch displays are still popular with gamers and those with minimal space requirements. Larger 32-inch and ultrawide monitors are also available. Your decision will ultimately depend on your budget and available space.
  • Pixel Density: Measured in pixels per inch (PPI), the pixel density describes how densely the pixels are packed on the display. The higher the pixel density, the better the image quality, since there is less chance of displaying individual pixels.
  • Display and Display Type: This is the main factor for quality and performance. You can choose an LCD panel with IPS, TN or VA technology, or opt for modern OLED panels if budget allows.
  • Refresh rate : This refers to the number of times that the display refreshes per second. The refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz). Base monitors support 60 Hz, which is suitable for office work, surfing the Internet or anything else without fast moving pictures. Most high frame rate (144 Hz) monitors are considered "gaming" monitors and would be overkill for those who do not.
  • Color Accuracy: What color profiles are supported by the monitor? If you use your monitor for creative work such as photo and video editing or design, you need a monitor with a high degree of color accuracy. You should also consider buying a monitor calibration tool.
  • Other features: Would you like a curved monitor for an even more intense viewing experience? How about one that you can use in portrait orientation for encoding or mobile development that is 90 degrees tilted? Are you planning to mount the monitor on a VESA mount?

If you have the hardware and budget for a 4K monitor, the HP Z27 is highly recommended by websites like Wirecutter. You can buy the reduced version with a resolution of 1440p for a few hundred dollars less for the same display.

According to Apple, the Ultrafine 5K display from LG is suitable for use with the latest notebooks. This display drives the monitor with Thunderbolt 3 while delivering 85 watts of charge for your laptop via USB-C. The domed Acer XR342CK 34-inch display achieves top marks for an ultrawide, if you have the space on your desk Handle it?

 Specifications for a MacBook Pro on Apple.com.

It's important that your Mac is powerful enough to run all external displays at the resolution and refresh rate you need. An easy way to do this is to check the specifications of your particular model. To find your model, click on the Apple logo in the upper right corner of the screen and choose About This Mac.

Search for your exact model on the Apple Web site (for example, "MacBook Pro Retina Mid 2012"). Then click on "Support" to view the technical data sheet. Under "Graphics and Video Support" (or similar), you should see "Supports both full native resolution on the integrated screen and up to 2560 x 1600 pixels on up to two external monitors."

MacBook Pro models support four external screens at 4 KB or two at 5 KB. Some users have successfully connected more than the recommended number of displays, although this usually results in significant performance degradation.

Buying the Right Adapters and Dongles

  CalDigit Dual HDMI Thunderbolt 3 Hub
amazon.com [19659003] Depending on which Mac you use, you may already have everything you need to add one or two extra Monitors connect. If you have a relatively new MacBook, you may need to purchase a hub to access an HDMI or DisplayPort output.

There are three types of screen connections that you're most likely to encounter:

  • HDMI: The same technology that connects Blu-ray players and consoles to your TV can transmit video and audio. HDMI 1.4 supports up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second (fps), while HDMI 2.0 supports 4K at 60 fps.
  • DisplayPort: This standard computer connection type for displays can transmit video and audio. DisplayPort is often preferred as a connection by gamers because of its higher bandwidth, allowing for higher frame rates and more frames per second.
  • Thunderbolt : This high-speed active connection developed by Intel and Apple enables features such as USB power to charge laptops. Daisy-chain connections can also be connected to several Thunderbolt devices in succession.

You must match your USB-C hub to your connector type. CalDigit manufactures a mini-dock with two HDMI ports and a variety of other ports. You can also save some money and easily get a straight adapter, such as the Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Adapter from OWC. If you choose HDMI or DisplayPort, you should not waste money on overpriced cables.

Thunderbolt 3 monitors are another great choice. You use a simple "active" Thunderbolt 3 cable that will normally charge your laptop at the same time. The official cables from Apple cost $ 40 and are officially supported. You can, however, find cables like these from Zikko, which are only half the price. Make sure you have a certified 40 Gbps cable that supports charging up to 100 watts.

You may also come across DVI and VGA monitors, although they are outdated. Single-link DVI offers only a slightly better resolution than 1080p and does not transmit audio. VGA is an outdated analog connection. If you want to connect a DVI or VGA monitor, you will also need a specific adapter.

Arranging the Displays

 Click

Now you have the monitors placed on your desk, put them in, and turn them on, it's time to turn the software side of things on consider. This creates a consistent experience between the displays. You want the mouse pointer to flow naturally from one display to another and in the order in which they are arranged.

With the external displays connected, start System Preferences> Show. On your primary screen (i.e., your MacBook or iMac screen), click the "Arrangement" tab. All recognized ads are visible in the chart. Click on a display and hold it down to see a red outline on the corresponding monitor. Disable "Mirror Displays" if the same picture is displayed on both.

Now click on the monitors and drag to arrange them in the same order they sit on your desk. You can drag a monitor to any side of the screen, including above and below. Be aware of the misalignment between the monitors because it affects the point at which the cursor moves from one display to another. Play around with the arrangement until you are satisfied.

Resolution, Color Profile, and Rotation

 The

When System Settings> Display Open, the settings for each screen are displayed. Here you can change settings such as resolution and refresh rate. Leave the resolution set to "Default for this display" to use the monitor's native resolution (recommended), or click "Scaled" for a complete list of available resolutions.

If you're using your monitor in portrait orientation for mobile development or text editing, you can set the current angle in the Rotation drop-down menu. Depending on how your monitor articulates, choose either 90 or 270 degrees. If you mount your monitor upside down for some reason, you can choose 180 degrees.

Click the Color tab to display the list of color profiles supported by your screen. Select the "Only show profiles for this ad" check box to see a list of officially supported profiles. Unless your monitor explicitly supports a third-party color profile (such as Adobe RGB), inaccurate colors may appear when using other settings.

Multiple Monitors and the Dock

 MacOS dock alignment and settings

Dock location may cause problems when using multiple monitors. The dock should only appear on the "primary" ad, but how you arrange your ads can have an impact. To change the primary display, go to System Preferences> Display, and then click the Arrangement tab.

One of the ads has a white bar at the top of the screen. Click this white bar and drag it to set a different display as the primary monitor. If you have aligned the dock at the bottom of your screen, it should now be displayed on your primary monitor.

 The primary display in the

When the dock is on the side of the screen where your external monitor is connected to your MacBook or iMac, the dock will appear on your external screen regardless of what you do. You can not force the dock to stick to your iMac or MacBook screen. You either have to live with the dock at the bottom of the screen, change the display layout, or look at the external display to use the dock.

You can change the orientation of the Dock under System Preferences> Dock.

Performance and Multiple Screens

Even though you do not exceed the maximum number of supported screens according to your computer's specifications, you should consider how external screens impact performance. Your Mac has just that much computing power, especially in graphics.

The more screens you use, the better the performance of your Mac. On your Mac, it's much easier to use an external 1080p display (1920 x 1080 = 2,073,600 pixels) than an external 4K display (3840 x 2160 = 8,294,400 pixels). You may notice performance degradation, such as B. general slowdown, jerking or increased heating power.

If you put more strain on your hardware for GPU-intensive tasks like video editing, the performance drops even further. If you use your Mac for these types of tasks, an external GPU (eGPU) can provide the extra energy you need to run external screens and run the job.

External Monitors and MacBooks

  A MacBook Air with lid closed.
apple.com

One of the best things you can do for your productivity is adding an external display to your MacBook (if it can handle it). Fortunately, you can only use an external display, but you need a replacement keyboard and a mouse or a Magic Trackpad.

Just connect your external display to your MacBook, log in as usual, and close your laptop lid. The internal display goes into sleep mode and you can not access the keyboard and trackpad of your MacBook, but the external display does not budge.

This allows you to take advantage of larger external displays while reducing the performance penalty of driving multiple monitors. That way, you can achieve a standard desktop experience with your normally portable MacBook. The only downside is that your MacBook in closed position may generate more heat because it prevents passive cooling through the keyboard.

Use your iPad as a display with sidecar

If you have an iPad that supports iPadOS 13, you can also use your tablet as an external display. You can even use your Apple Pencil in macOS with compatible apps. It's one of the many new features in macOS 10.15 Catalina that you can download for free from the App Store.


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