fixed : how to connect an external display (or iMac) to my new USB-C only MacBook Pro ?

Question :

I have to work from home right now, so I would like to connect my MacBook Pro to an external display, but I have a new MacBook Pro that only has USB-C ports…

How do I do that ?

 

Answer :

First, you need to know if your MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro has Thunderbolt 3  (TB3) or regular USB-C.  Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) and regular USB-C (USB 3.1 gen 2) connectors look exactly the same, but Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) runs at 40Gbps instead of 10Gbps for regular USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) can handle a 5K-display or two 4K-displays at once, but regular USB-C can only handle one 4K-display.

The 12″ MacBooks from 2015/2016/2017 have regular USB-C (just like the iPad Program 2018/2020) that is NOT Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) capable

The MacBook Air from 2018/2020 and the MacBook Pro’s from 2017 and newer have Tunderbolt 3 (TB3)

Then, you will need a display-connector-cable that converts USB-C to something that your monitor can handle :

If your external screen is a 4K- or 5K-display with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3-input, use this cable (or something similar) :

Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 3 cable  [ buy from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon DE ]

If your external screen has an HDMI-input (e.g. if it’s a recent display or if it’s a TV), use this cable (or something similar) :

USB-C 4K@60Hz to HDMI cable  [ buy from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon DE ]

If your external screen has a DVI-input (e.g. if it’s a slightly older or more expensive display), use this cable (or something similar) :

USB-C to DVI cable  [ buy from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon DE ]

If your external screen has a DisplayPort-input (e.g. if it’s a slightly older or more professional display), use this cable (or something similar) :

USB-C to DisplayPort cable  [ buy from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon DE ]

If your external screen had a MiniDisplayPort-input (e.g. if it’s an old iMac with Target Display Mode* support), use this cable (or something similar) :

  • * = only few iMacs have Target Display Mode support :
    • iMac 27″ 2009 to iMac 27″ 2014 (MiniDisplayPort/Thunderbolt 1)
    • iMac 21,5″ 2011 to iMac 21,5″ 2014 (MiniDisplayPort/Thunderbolt 1)
    • note : iMac Retina 4K and iMac Retina 5K do not have support for Target Display Mode !
    • visit the Apple website for more info on Target Display Mode
    • newer iMacs can be used as an external screen using Wireless Screen Sharing when connected to the same WiFi network, but that could be laggy (where cabled Target Disk Mode will never have lag)

USB-C to MiniDisplayPort cable  [ buy from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon DE ]

If your external screen has a VGA-input (e.g. if it’s a really old computer monitor or a beamer), use this converter (or something similar) to connect to a regular VGA-cable :

USB-C to VGA adapter  [ buy from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon DE ]

 

When you have gotten hold of the right connection cable, do this :

  • shut down both your MacBook* and external display**
    • * = MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro that only has USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports
    • ** = external display, iMac or beamer
  • connect your MacBook* to your external display** using the proper cable mentioned above
  • switch on your external display**
  • switch on your MacBook*
  • make sure your MacBook* is connected to the wall power adapter
  • connect a mouse and keyboard to your MacBook** either using USB (with a USB-to-USB-C connector) or using Bluetooth
    • any basic USB-to-USB-C connector will do, here is a suggestion
    • if your MacBook* only has 2 USB-C ports, you either need to use a Bluetooth mouse & keyboard, or your need a USB-C port hub (port multiplier) like this :
  • if your external display** has various input options, make sure it is set to receive the input from your MacBook*
  • then, close your MacBook*’s lid, so your entire desktop screen will be visible on the external screen
  • usually, the macOS Display Preferences window will now be on-screen, if it is not, open the System Preferences (in the Apple-menu top left) and click on the Displays-icon to open it
  • in the Preferences window that is named like your external display, click on the Display-tab
  • then choose ‘Default for display’ (if you click on ‘Scaled’ once, you will see that macOS has automatically chosen the optimal resolution for your this external display** with your MacBook*, if that is not the maximum screen resolution listed, you might want to change this, but usually you just choose ‘Default for display’)
  • now you are good to go…

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

 

fixed : external display goes black when I close my MacBook

Question :

Since I need to work form home at this moment, I have connected an external display. It works great and I now have a far better overview than I had on my tiny MacBook Pro screen. Now I have connected a USB-keyboard and a wireless mouse, so I would like to close my MacBook’s lid while I’m working on the external display. But, somehow, every time I close my MacBook’s lid, the connection to the display is lost and the display goes black…

What is going on ?

 

Answer :

To prevent your battery from draining while you are not using your MacBook, all connections are cut off when the lid is closed (since you cannot access the keyboard or the screen when the lid is closed). This also means that the connection to your external display will be cut off whenever you close your MacBook’s lid.

However : since your MacBook’s battery will no drain as long as extra power is provided, this shut down feature will not be activated as long as your MacBook is plugged into the wall charger. So, there’s your answer : just plug your MacBook into external power, and your external display will not go black when you close the MacBook’s lid.

Note : if you already have your MacBook connected to external power and your external display still goes black, see this post.

That’s it !

enjoy 😉

fixed : Benq monitor stays black when MacBook is switched on

Question :

I have a Benq BL2420PT external monitor as a desktop screen connected to my MacBook using a Displayport-cable (actually a miniDisplayport-to-Displayport-cable). When my MacBook goes into sleep mode or the Ben monitor goes into sleep mode itself the screen goes black. But when I try to revive the monitor by moving my external mouse or pressing any key on my (external) keyboard, the MacBook starts up, but the Ben monitor’s screen stays black.

This same thing sometimes happens when I startup my MacBook and close the lid before the Benq monitor switches on.

What can I do to fix this ?

 

Answer :

The following trick might help for other Benq monitors, and maybe even for different brands of monitors also. This works for the Benq BL2420PT monitor if the screen stays black even when the connected Mac is turned on :

  • on the frame of the screen, bottom right, you see 5 indicator lights, next to the Power-indicator ; these are all touch-buttons
  • if the Power-indicator/button is steadily glowing in white, don’t touch it ; only if it has another color, touch it to switch on the monitor
  • if the Power-indicator still doesn’t glow white, check if all cables are connected properly and make sure the physical ON/OFF-switch on the bottom of the screen is switched ON
  • touch the one indicator light/button that is nearest to the centre of the screen (so the most left one)
  • if a message appears “No cable connected”, just wait
  • if a menu appears with 5 cable connectors to choose from, don’t touch anything, just wait
  • just wait (usually up to 30 seconds, sometimes even a minute) and the screen will switch on

NOTE : the most important thing is that you DO NOT (neither accidentally nor intentionally) touch any other indicator/button ! as this usually screws up the monitor’s software setting that corresponds to the physical cable connection (to correct that, you should toggle around with the these touch-buttons until the menu with the 5 cable connectors reappears and you can then choose the one that corresponds to your physically connected cable)

If the above doesn’t work, look here for alternate procedures to revive your black screen :

fixed : MacBook’s external monitor screen stays black

That’s it !

enjoy 😉