Ask LH: Can I Run Multiple Displays With A Closed MacBook?

Hi Lifehacker, How can I run two external monitors from my MacBook Pro with the lid closed? It’s got to be do-able, somehow. Thanks, Thinks-Outside-Two-Boxes

Picture by Benjamin Nagel

Dear TOTB,

This shouldn’t be a particularly difficult problem to solve. MacBooks have built-in support for running with the lid closed when using an external display and peripherals. Just connect the display, shut the lid, and wake the machine back up by pressing any key on the external keyboard. There’s a more detailed run-down on Apple’s support site if you need it. Some Mac enthusiasts recommend leaving the lid open (to allow heat to exit through the keyboard); if you’re running in this ‘clamshell’ mode, the display will remain blank.

So that deals with the lid-closing issue. The main challenge with running multiple displays after that is how to connect them. You’ll need an adaptor to connect to your machine’s existing Mini DisplayPort output; what kind of adaptor depends on the type of display you plan to connect, but there are options available for most display types you can think of.

In theory that should all work fine, but as regular Lifehacker readers will know, I don’t run a Mac as my day-to-day machine so I haven’t been able to test it directly. If MacBook-toting multiple monitor enthusisasts can offer additional insights, we’d love to hear them in the comments.


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