Use multiple displays with your Mac

Your Mac takes full advantage of each display that you've connected to it. Learn how to extend your work to an additional display.

You can set up an additional display with your Mac in several ways. You can connect a display in addition to the built-in display on your Mac. If your Mac doesn't have a built-in display, you can add a display to the first one you connected. You can also set up a wireless connection to your HDTV to make it work as a display.

When you connect an additional display, you can:

Set up an extended desktop

When you use your displays as one continuous desktop, you can spread out your work any way you like. Move your pointer past the edge of one display and it appears on the other display. At first, your primary display has all of your desktop icons and open app windows. You can drag them to the other display as needed.

When you set up an extended desktop with an additional display in OS X Mavericks or later:

  • Each display has a menu bar.
  • Both displays have a Dock, unless you position the Dock to the left or right. In that case, your Dock is available at the left or right edge of the extended display.
  • Each display can have full-screen apps. To take an app full screen, click the green button in the upper-left corner of the app window. Or press Control-Command-F.
  • You can use AirPlay and Apple TV to make your HDTV an extension of your Mac display.
  • You can use Mission Control to organize windows and full-screen apps across your displays.

Here's how to set up an extended desktop:

  1. Connect and turn on your additional display.
  2. From the Apple () menu, choose System Preferences.
  3. Choose Displays.
  4. Click the Arrangement tab.
  5. Make sure that the Mirror Displays checkbox isn't selected.

Arrange your displays

You can tell your Mac where your displays are in relation to each other. Use this feature so that your connected displays match their real-world location when you move between windows.

The blue boxes in the Arrangement pane represent all displays that you've connected to your Mac. The size of each box represents the current resolution of each display. In this example, the smaller box on the left represents the display of a MacBook. The larger box on the right is the Apple 27" Thunderbolt Display.

To change the location of a display, drag its blue box to where you want it. For example, you might have an external display to the left of your MacBook in your workspace. If its blue box is at the right side, you can drag it to the left to match the actual location.

The white bar at the top of the blue box identifies your primary display. The primary display is where your desktop icons and open app windows first appear. To make a different display your primary display, drag the white bar to the box that represents that display.

Set up video mirroring

Video mirroring shows the same desktop and windows on multiple displays at the same time. You can use it to view content such as photos or videos on a larger display or HDTV.

Here's how to set up video mirroring:

  1. Connect and turn on your additional display.
  2. From the Apple () menu, choose System Preferences.
  3. Choose Displays.
  4. Click the Arrangement tab.
  5. In the lower-left corner of the Arrangement pane, select "Mirror Displays."

In OS X Mavericks or later, add a status menu  to make it easier to mirror your displays. Use this menu to select an Apple TV or television to use as a display. It appears when you connect to an HDTV, or when an Apple TV is available on your network. To add the menu to the top of your screen, select "Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available."

The blue boxes represent all displays that you've connected. The white bar at the top of both boxes represents your primary display. In video mirroring, both displays have a white bar because they show the same information.

You might see black bars on the sides of the screen image. This happens if you choose a resolution in the Display pane that only one of your displays supports. Your Mac uses the closest matching resolution.


To switch between video mirroring and an extended desktop, press Command-F1.

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