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How to Add a Second Monitor to Your MacBook



This is how to add a second monitor to your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. These are all great portable computers, and when you are at the office or at home you can upgrade your productivity with a second display.

You can easily add a monitor to your MacBook to get more space to do work. This works with all MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro screen sizes, and it is a great work from home upgrade. With a monitor, you can more easily multitask, watch videos, work on big spreadsheets, and compare documents.

If you have room, you should consider adding a monitor to your MacBook. This makes working on two windows or apps at the same time easier and you can also increase the text size if you have trouble seeing or reading the screen.

You can also add an external keyboard and mouse to your MacBook Pro to turn it into a desktop workstation that you just need to plug your MacBook into. You can connect a monitor directly to your MacBook Pro, or you can buy a MacBook Pro dock. In some cases, you will need an adapter.

Here’s how to add a second monitor to your MacBook. Plus a look at what you need and what to look for in a monitor.

What to Look for in a Monitor for Your MacBook or MacBook Pro

If you already own a monitor there is a good chance that you can plug it into your MacBook or MacBook Pro with an adapter and start using it. If you are shopping for a new monitor, there are some things to consider.

Easily add a monitor to your MacBook or MacBook Pro.

Figure out how big of a monitor you want, if you want a widescreen monitor, and what kind of resolution you need.

At the minimum, you’ll want a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution monitor. This is also known as HD, and it’s good enough for many users. That said, it’s worth looking at a 4K or a widescreen monitor. QHD, QHD+ and 4K monitors are great options and you will see a range of resolutions as you shop.

Most monitors now offer HDMI, DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort and a DVI or VGA connection. Some come with a USB-C connection. The model listed above can plug in directly to your MacBook Pro with USB-C.

How to Connect a Second Monitor to Your MacBook or MacBook Pro

After you get your monitor on your desk or in the office, you can connect it to your MacBook.

If you are using a 2015 or older MacBook Pro, you can connect an HDMI cable from your computer directly to a monitor. If you own a new MacBook Pro with USB-C or a 12-inch MacBook you will need a USB C to HDMI or USB C to DisplayPort adapter. The MacBook Air requires a mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.

On an older MacBook Pro, you have two options: HDMI or Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt. As mentioned earlier, if your monitor has DVI, you can get Apple’s Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter. If your monitor has HDMI, you can plug an HDMI cable in directly.


If you have a MacBook Air, your only option is Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt. With that said, you’ll either need the above adapter or a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.

With the 12-inch MacBook or new MacBook Pro, it’s a bit more tricky, but to connect a DVI monitor to it, you’ll need a DVI to HDMI adapter, as well as USB-C adapter. Or if you’re using HDMI, you can simply just get the USB-C adapter. There are fewer options you have as far as ports go, the more complicated it gets, but there’s always a way.

Now, once you have connected the monitor to your MacBook and turn it on, your MacBook will automatically detect the added display. You’ll just need to customize it the way you want by opening up System Settings/Preferences and clicking on Displays. This is where you can arrange your display.

From there, you can start using your second monitor. You can drag apps from one monitor to the next and you can use an app like Magnet to move them around with keyboard shortcuts.

The MacBook will automatically detect your monitor whenever you plug it in, and macOS will remember window sizes with the second monitor as well. When you unplug, all windows go to your MacBook.

If you need additional assistance, check out Apple’s guide.

4 Reasons Not to Install macOS Sonoma 14.4.1 & 10 Reasons You Should

Install macOS Sonoma 14.4.1 for Better Security

Install macOS Sonoma 14.4.1 for Better Security

If security is important to you, think about installing Apple's macOS Sonoma 14.4.1 update right away.

macOS Sonoma 14.4.1 includes two security patches and these will help protect your device and it data from harm. 

You'll also get patches from updates you missed when you upgrade to macOS Sonoma 14.4.1.

macOS Sonoma 14.4 brought 50+ security updates to compatible Mac devices.

The update also delivered quantum security protection for iMessage. Apple says the upgrade gives iMessage "the strongest security properties of any at-scale messaging protocol in the world."

Apple's macOS Sonoma 14.3 update brought 16 new security patches to Mac. These will help keep your device and its data protected from harm. 

macOS Sonoma 14.2.1 featured one security patch and it fixed an issue where a user who shares their screen may unintentionally share the incorrect content.

macOS Sonoma 14.2 included a whopping 20 security patches for your Mac. If you want to learn more about them, head here.

The software also included iMessage Contact Key Verification which improves the security of iMessage.

macOS Sonoma 14.1.2 delivered two security patches, both related to WebKit. These patches were extremely important.

macOS Sonoma 14.1 had numerous security patches on board and they addressed issues with Photos, Safari, Siri and more. You can learn more about them over at Apple.

macOS Sonoma 14.0, the first version of macOS Sonoma, brought a ton of new security patches to Mac. And when we say a ton, we mean a ton. 

It delivered over 50 security updates to Mac users. You can learn more about the particulars over on Apple's security site.

In addition to the patches, macOS Sonoma brings additional enhancements to privacy and security including improvements to Communication Safety beyond Messages.

It now includes content sent and received in the systemwide photo picker and third-party apps. You also have an option to blur out sensitive photos and videos before you choose to view them.

There's also an expanded Lockdown Mode which will help protect you against cyber attacks and improved sharing permissions which means you have more control over what you share with the apps on your device. 

If you skipped older versions of macOS, you'll get the security patches from those updates with your macOS Sonoma 14.4.1 update.



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  2. Ross

    03/10/2016 at 1:09 pm

    Great instructions. I’m wondering…is it possible to run a DVI adapter to VGA and then run a VGA cable to an iMac using an adapter from VGA to thunderbolt in order to use a MacBook as an extended display? Or it this for output only?

  3. Jeanine Scott

    06/09/2016 at 7:40 pm

    I’m trying to connect an older Dell monitor to my macbook air 15″. I have the Belkin DVI adaptor. Everything is plugged in but adaptations is not showing on my display options. I’d very much appreciate any ideas you may have.

  4. Kerry

    06/10/2016 at 4:46 am

    @Jeanine and Ross – I have old Dell monitor and a new Lightening cable and VGA adaptor. When I plug my monitor into the Mac Book I get flashing on my Mac Book screen and no Arrangement tab – any help you get please send my way too :)

  5. jonathan niewerth

    06/20/2016 at 2:46 am

    hi, i have a macbook air and a dell monitor, I’m using the macbook air to remotely log into a pc that is at work, i can only get the display to show up on the mac and not the dell monitor. any thoughts ?

  6. S.A. Paige

    07/25/2016 at 9:37 am

    I have two macbooks and can’t seem to get one to be a display, even when using command F2. Do you know if a macbook/macbook connection is possible? I don’t have a monitor.

    • BV

      10/08/2016 at 8:43 am

      Same problem here… Have you now found a solution ?

      • everydaydifferent

        10/08/2016 at 11:41 am

        Nothing yet. But if I do figure it out, I’ll let you know.

  7. home repairman

    12/14/2016 at 9:34 pm

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  8. sikopomp

    12/18/2016 at 10:51 am

    Thanks for all the help!

  9. Jillian

    12/27/2016 at 7:58 pm

    I really like your writing style, good information, appreciate it for putting up :D.

  10. Matt

    02/26/2017 at 8:04 pm

    i have two dell p2715Qt monitors and want to have them both “daisy changed” together so can have extended display on both, with my MacBook pro retina closed on desk- currently the only thing i am able to do is mirror display any ideas? have tried both display port and hdmi with no luck

  11. Bhavesh

    03/24/2017 at 11:11 pm

    Hey I am using macbook pro with 13.3″ display. I want to use external monitor with VGA port on my macbook. Is there any way I can do this?

  12. Robin Frazier

    04/22/2017 at 10:17 am

    Thank you Craig,
    This was a terrific tutorial. Very educational.
    You are awesome!!!

  13. Sue sipila

    04/26/2017 at 8:09 am

    I have an older 2008 MacBook which has lost the screen. An easy solution was to attach an external monitor. I used this successfully up until last week. Now when I use this MacBook, if I need to open the book, I loose the monitors signal. Is there an easy solution? Other than buying an external keyboard? When I read the above instructions, I do not have a arrangement title between the display and color. This is a OS 10.7.5. I also just replaced the attaching cord from the electrical plug to the power source. The MacBook appears to have full function when the lid is closed, but as soon as you open it to access the keyboard the screen goes to the picture, loosing all info.

  14. Sensual Girls

    06/21/2017 at 11:25 am

    Howdy! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
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  15. Matt Lara

    01/11/2019 at 1:49 pm

    MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2016, I don’t have an arrangement tab in my dislplays setting. Someone please help, Im trying to use photoshop on my monitor.

  16. Dogging Action

    10/03/2019 at 8:06 am

    I’ve never owned a Macbook I’ve always had Windows.

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