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 😉

fixed : MacBook’s external monitor screen stays black

Question :

In my office, I am using an external monitor as my main screen for my MacBook Pro. Today, the screen didn’t respond when I connected my MacBook however : the screen stays black and nothing appears on-screen. So I opened up my MacBook and used the built-in screen to figure out what’s wrong, but so far I haven’t found any indication in the Displays Preference Panel that my MacBook even detects the second screen…

What can I do ?

 

Answer :

In such situations you should always do this first :

Remedy #1 :

  • if you are using a MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, make sure you have the power adapter connected
  • if your laptop is on battery power, the external screen will go black whenever you close the lid of your laptop (when on battery power, all connections are powered off when you close the lid to save energy)

if this works, you’re good, if not, try Remedy #2

Remedy #2 :

  • make sure your monitor is switched ON
  • then hit the SPACE-bar on your external keyboard several times (maybe once, usually about 5 to 10 times…)
  • the monitor should now appear and show the inlog panel to unlock your screensaver
  • then login

if this works, you’re good, if not, try Remedy #3

NOTE : if you have a Benq monitor (especially the BL2420TP), try this first :

fixed : Benq monitor stays black when MacBook is switched on

Remedy #3 :

  • unplug all cables between the monitor and your Mac ( DisplayPort / Thunderbolt / HDMI / DVI / VGA  and also USB, UTP, FireWire and PowerAdapter )
  • shut down your monitor
  • shut down your MacBook
  • reconnect all cables and double-check if they’re properly connected on both the Mac and the monitor
  • switch on your MacBook
  • switch on your monitor

if this works, you’re good, if not, try Remedy #4

Remedy #4 :

  • on your MacBook, open Apple [main menu bar top-left] –> System Preferences
  • in the System Preferences window, select “Displays”
  • in the Display Preferences window, see if there is a button marked “Gather Windows” bottom right
  • if there is no “Gather Windows” button, press the ALT-key on your keyboard and a button marked “Detect Displays” appears ; click on it when it appears

if this works, you’re good, if not, try Remedy #5

Remedy #5 :

  • on your MacBook, open Apple [main menu bar top-left] –> System Preferences
  • in the System Preferences window, select “Displays”
  • in the Display Preferences window, see if there is a button marked “Gather Windows” bottom right
  • if there is a “Gather Windows” button, click on it
  • then you will see 2 Display Preference windows on your MacBook screen
  • select the Display Preference window that has 3 tabs on it marked “Display”, “Arrangement” and “Color” (not the window that has “Display” and “Color” only)
  • first, press the ALT-key on your keyboard and a button marked “Detect Displays” appears where the “Gather Windows”-button used to be ; click on it when it appears
  • if your monitor switches on, you’re good, if not…
  • click on the “Arrangement”-tab and in the next window put a checkmark at “Mirror Display”
  • if your monitor switches on now, uncheck the “Mirror Display” option again and close your MacBook… you should be good now…

if this didn’t work, try Remedy #6

Remedy #6 :

  • unplug all cables between the monitor and your Mac ( DisplayPort / Thunderbolt / HDMI / DVI / VGA  and also USB, UTP, FireWire and PowerAdapter )
  • shut down your monitor
  • shut down your MacBook
  • reconnect your Mac to your monitor using a different type of cable then you normally would choose (e.g. if you normally use a DisplayPort/Thunderbolt-cable, use an HDMI or DVI cable now)
  • switch on your MacBook
  • switch on your monitor
  • if your monitor wakes from sleep now, open Apple –> System Preferences
  • in the System Preferences window, select “Displays”
  • in the Display Preferences window, see if there is a button marked “Gather Windows” bottom right
  • if there is a “Gather Windows” button, click on it
  • then you will see 2 Display Preference windows on your MacBook screen
  • now, remove the monitor-cable that you have just used to connect your MacBook to your monitor
  • then, reconnect your MacBook to your monitor using all cables you normally use to connect the two
  • if your monitor now wakes from sleep, you’re good
  • if it doesn’t, restart your monitor
  • it that doesn’t help, restart your Mac

normally your issue should be resolved by now…

if still the monitor stays showing a back screen, I’m sorry to inform you that your screen probably has a hardware problem… if so, get an authorized Mac-repair-centre to fix it, get the Apple Store support-crew to fix this…

that’s it !

enjoy 😉

fixed : repair or replace broken 24″ Apple LED Display ?

Question :

Just a few hours ago, the 24″ Apple LED display that I have connected to my 13″ MacBook Pro (Late 2011) started smelling… the odor was giving me a headache as if something plastic or electrical was burning… now, my beloved Apple Display is not showing anything on screen anymore : even though it’s USB-ports, the MagSafe-power and the sound are still working, and my Mac still detects a connected external screen, the display stays black…

What can I do ?

 

Answer :

I’m sorry to bring you the bad news : your beloved Apple Display is a ‘total loss’… Even though this could probably be fixed by replacing the internal ‘motherboard’ of your monitor (99% chance some component on it burned, which is getting an increasingly common problem with these 8 year old monitors…), the fact that Apple does no longer supply any new components for these LED Displays makes that no official Apple repair station will do any repairs on it any longer, and even if you would be able to find a working second-hand replacement part, the replacement procedure is so delicate that it is not a do-it-yourself job… don’t go there.

So you want a replacement ?

Apple does no longer produce or sell any “Apple Display”-monitors. The only monitors available for sale on the Apple Store are LG-branded 4K and 5K monitors… these are said to be co-developed by Apple, but BEWARE : these can only be connected to the most recent Macs that have Thunderbold3-over-USB3 !!!

For older Macs that have miniDisplayPort or Thunderbold (which is Thunderbold1-over-miniDisplayPort) you need something else…

If you just need a plain ‘extra screen’ of GraphicDesigner-quality, you could choose any monitor by Dell, Acer, LG, Samsung, etc. that gets good reviews by graphic designers and meets these specs :

  • IPS-type screen (which has a far better viewing-angle then the TN-type screens)
  • miniDisplayPort, DisplayPort or DVI input (not HDMI-only)
  • a black and/or minimal bezel around the screen
  • preferably as much or more pixels than your Apple Display (the 24″ Apple Displays had 1920×1200 and the 27″ Apple Displays had 2560×1440)
  • preferably an internal USB-hub (to connect an external USB-keyboard, USB-mouse or USB-scanner)

but for most of you, since you are still hanging on to your not-so-new MacBook, you will want an affordable replacement that will still be useful when you buy a new MacBook…

…then there is only one good option for you at this current time :

the BenQ BL2420PT monitor ; buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

with a StarTech 4K@60Hz miniDisplayPort-to-DisplayPort1.2-cable ; buy it at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

BEWARE : there is no displayPort-cable included with the BL2420PT monitor, so don’t forget to add a 4K@60Hz capable miniDisplayPort1.2-cable

…okay, this is no way comparable to the sleek industrial design (the ‘box’) of your Apple Display… you won’t get MagSafe-power connection and an iSight webcam built-in, the screen is not high-gloss and it’s bezel is about .5cm thicker than the screen, the monitor speakers volume can’t be adjusted from your keyboard (you should do that on screen or use your Mac speakers) and you won’t get the ‘one cable’ connection you’re used to…

…but, it’s non-intrusive black, the screen can be easily adjusted in height and can even tilt to portrait, it has the 27″ amount of pixels on a 24″ screen (admitted : even though that’s a PRO for most, it might be a CON for some), it has built-in speakers, it has special settings for CAD/CAM and AnimationDesign and it’s the highest value-for-money around…

…if you would mind that, you wouldn’t still be using such an old MacBook… right 😉

enjoy !

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