How to Set Up External and Dual Monitors on a Mac

Introduction

When you work with a lot of documents at once, or find yourself with a lot of windows open, it can become welcome, if not necessary, to have more display room for your work all at once on your computer. Rather than buy a single, larger monitor, you can use a second one to display either the same or different windows.

This guide will take you through the basics of setting up a second monitor for your computer.

Dual Monitors

1 Setup and Hardware Requirements

Our first step is to be sure we have all the necessary physical hardware available.

On Your Desk

  • Make sure there's enough space for both monitors.
  • Make sure you can still reach your keyboard and mouse comfortably.
  • Make sure you can see both monitors when you sit down.

For Each Monitor

Each monitor will need the following:

  • A power cable or adapter, and an outlet to plug it in.
    Arrows pointing a power cable to monitor and outlet
  • A cable to connect to your computer that fits one of the ports on your monitor.

    Desktop
    Video cable plugged into monitor and computer
    Laptop
    Video cable plugged into monitor and laptop

For Your Computer

  • A port for each monitor.
    Graphics card showing multiple ports.

     Graphics cards and laptops may have multiple monitor hookups.

     
  • The ports on your computer must match the cables coming from both your monitors.
For DisplayPort, you can 'daisy chain', or connect one monitor through another if both the computer and one of the monitors supports it.
For laptops where you intend to use the built-in display as one of your monitors, you only need one place to plug in the second monitor on the laptop.
Adding another monitor adds, at minimum, two more cables to your computer setup. Please be sure these cables will not be caught or snagged by your chair, desk, or people walking by.

2 Connect Monitor

  1. Connect the video cable to your monitor.
    Monitor with the cable plugged in
  2. Connect the other end of the video cable to your computer.
    Monitor plugged into desktop
  3. Connect power to your new monitor:
    1. One connector (1) plugs into the monitor.
    2. The other connector (2) plugs into a power socket.
    3. And sometimes, a third (3) connector plugs into the supply itself.
    Monitor power supply connectors annotated.
  4. Turn on your monitor.
    Power button on monitor highlighted.
  5. Turn on your computer.
    Power.

3 Manage Settings

  1. Click on the Apple menu and click System Preferences.
    Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted
  2. Click on Displays.
    System Preferences with Displays highlighted

Extended Display

You can maximize your workspace with extended desktop mode, which lets you enjoy full-screen apps and windows on each monitor.

  1. Click on the Arrangement tab.
    Arrangement tab highlighted
  2. Make sure that Mirror Displays is unchecked.
    Mirror displays highlighted
  3. You can position your monitors by dragging the monitor to rearrange how they show up.
    Monitors with arrows going left and right.

Mirrored Display

With video mirroring, all of your displays will show the same apps and windows.

  1. Click the Arrangement tab.
    Arrangement tab highlighted
  2. Make sure Mirror Displays is checked.
    Mirror Displays box highlighted

Using Airplay

If you have a compatible AirPlay device, you can choose to mirror or extend the display to it.

  1. Click the Airplay icon on your menu bar.
    Airplay menu highlighted
  2. Click the TV or Device you want to use.
    Airplay device highlighted
  3. You can Choose to extend or mirror your desktop.

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When you work with a lot of documents at once, or find yourself with a lot of windows open, it can become welcome, if not necessary, to have more display room for your work all at once on your computer. Rather than buy a single, larger monitor, you can use a second one to display either the same or different windows.

This guide will take you through the basics of setting up a second monitor for your computer.

Dual Monitors

Our first step is to be sure we have all the necessary physical hardware available.

On Your Desk

  • Make sure there's enough space for both monitors.
  • Make sure you can still reach your keyboard and mouse comfortably.
  • Make sure you can see both monitors when you sit down.

For Each Monitor

Each monitor will need the following:

  • A power cable or adapter, and an outlet to plug it in.
    Arrows pointing a power cable to monitor and outlet
  • A cable to connect to your computer that fits one of the ports on your monitor.

    Desktop
    Video cable plugged into monitor and computer
    Laptop
    Video cable plugged into monitor and laptop

For Your Computer

  • A port for each monitor.
    Graphics card showing multiple ports.

     Graphics cards and laptops may have multiple monitor hookups.

     
  • The ports on your computer must match the cables coming from both your monitors.
For DisplayPort, you can 'daisy chain', or connect one monitor through another if both the computer and one of the monitors supports it.
For laptops where you intend to use the built-in display as one of your monitors, you only need one place to plug in the second monitor on the laptop.
Adding another monitor adds, at minimum, two more cables to your computer setup. Please be sure these cables will not be caught or snagged by your chair, desk, or people walking by.
  1. Connect the video cable to your monitor.
    Monitor with the cable plugged in
  2. Connect the other end of the video cable to your computer.
    Monitor plugged into desktop
  3. Connect power to your new monitor:
    1. One connector (1) plugs into the monitor.
    2. The other connector (2) plugs into a power socket.
    3. And sometimes, a third (3) connector plugs into the supply itself.
    Monitor power supply connectors annotated.
  4. Turn on your monitor.
    Power button on monitor highlighted.
  5. Turn on your computer.
    Power.
  1. Click on the Apple menu and click System Preferences.
    Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted
  2. Click on Displays.
    System Preferences with Displays highlighted

Extended Display

You can maximize your workspace with extended desktop mode, which lets you enjoy full-screen apps and windows on each monitor.

  1. Click on the Arrangement tab.
    Arrangement tab highlighted
  2. Make sure that Mirror Displays is unchecked.
    Mirror displays highlighted
  3. You can position your monitors by dragging the monitor to rearrange how they show up.
    Monitors with arrows going left and right.

Mirrored Display

With video mirroring, all of your displays will show the same apps and windows.

  1. Click the Arrangement tab.
    Arrangement tab highlighted
  2. Make sure Mirror Displays is checked.
    Mirror Displays box highlighted

Using Airplay

If you have a compatible AirPlay device, you can choose to mirror or extend the display to it.

  1. Click the Airplay icon on your menu bar.
    Airplay menu highlighted
  2. Click the TV or Device you want to use.
    Airplay device highlighted
  3. You can Choose to extend or mirror your desktop.
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