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OS X Mavericks: Use another Mac as a display

Use another Mac as a display

Target Display Mode lets you use a Mac as the external display for another “primary” Mac. In some cases, you can also play the sound from your primary Mac on the speakers of the external Mac. For example, a MacBook Pro could use a 27-inch iMac as the display and play its audio on the iMac as well.

After you connect the computers, the external display Mac acts like any other external display. Apps that were open on the external display Mac remain open even though you can’t see their windows. To change display settings, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Displays on the primary Mac.

Use an iMac with Thunderbolt as a display

If you have an iMac with Thunderbolt, any other Mac with Thunderbolt can use it as a display. The iMac will play both the video and audio from the other Mac.

  1. Connect the Thunderbolt cable to the Thunderbolt ports on each computer.
  2. Make sure both Mac computers are turned on and awake.
  3. Press Command (⌘)-F2 on the keyboard of the external display Mac.
  4. If you want the external display Mac to play audio as well as video from the primary Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Sound, then click Output. Select the external display Mac in the list of devices.

Use a 27-inch iMac with a Mini DisplayPort as a display

If you have a 27-inch iMac with a Mini DisplayPort, any other Mac with a Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt port can use it as a display. Make sure you have a Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable.

If the primary Mac has a Thunderbolt port, it can play its audio and video on the iMac. If the primary Mac has a Mini DisplayPort, the iMac may be able to play its audio. To see if it can, go to the primary Mac, choose Apple menu > About This Mac, click More Info, then select Audio (Built In) below Hardware in the Contents list. A list of your computer’s audio devices appears. If HDMI Output or HDMI/DisplayPort output is listed, your computer’s Mini DisplayPort can send audio. Make sure you use a Mini DisplayPort cable that carries both audio and video.

  1. Connect the Mini DisplayPort cable to the ports on each computer.
  2. Make sure both computers are turned on and awake.
  3. Press Command (⌘)-F2 on the keyboard of the external display computer.
  4. If you want the external display Mac to play audio as well as video from the primary Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Sound, then click Output. Select the external display Mac in the list of devices.

Turn Target Display Mode on or off

To turn Target Display Mode on or off, press Command (⌘)-F2 on the keyboard of the external display Mac.

When Target Display Mode is on, the external display Mac shows the open apps on the primary Mac. When Target Display Mode is off, it displays its own open apps.

Put the primary Mac to sleep

When you put the primary Mac to sleep, the external display Mac goes dark for a few seconds and then displays the windows for its own apps. If the external display Mac does not display the windows for its own apps, press Command (⌘)-F2 on its keyboard.

When the primary Mac goes to sleep because it was idle, the external display Mac goes dark and stays dark. If you want the external display Mac to display the windows for its own apps, press Command (⌘)-F2 on its keyboard.

When the primary Mac wakes up, the external display Mac displays the windows for the apps on the primary Mac. If it does not, press Command (⌘)-F2 on the keyboard of the external display Mac.

The external display Mac doesn’t go to sleep when it’s in Target Display Mode.

Set options for the external display Mac

Last Modified: May 8, 2014
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