Can You Use an iMac as an External Monitor?


Using an iMac as an external monitor is a great way to extend the viewing area of your laptop or desktop computer. With the right display adapters, cables and software, you can connect your iMac to another computer and use it as a display for the other machine. Whether you are looking for extra screen space for your office setup or just want to take advantage of the impressive Retina display on your iMac, using an iMac as an external monitor is a great solution.

The iMac can be utilized as an external monitor

For those who own an old iMac made between late 2009 and 2013, there is a great way to get some more use from it: turning it into a secondary display. Using a feature known as “Target Display Mode”, these iMacs can be used as monitors for another Apple product such as the Mac mini or other Mac computers. This is quite convenient allowing users to save money on buying an additional monitor and make use of the products they already have.

The Target Display Mode works by pressing the “Command+F2” keys simultaneously on the older iMac. After this, another Apple device should be able to detect and utilize your iMac as a primary display source. However, Apple discontinued support starting with the models of late 2014, lacking the connector ports needed for full compatibility. This means that though you can still make use of 27 inch models released during 2009-2013, anything from 2014 onwards will not be supported by Target Display Mode.

The necessary tools to use an iMac as a monitor

Using your iMac as a monitor is a great way to make the most of your Mac setup, as it allows you to access content from another Mac running macOS, such as documents and applications. To get started, you’ll need an iMac with either a bi-directional Mini DisplayPort or a Thunderbolt port (depending on the model), the proper display ports and cables to make the connection between the two Macs, and both machines must be running compatible versions of macOS; the iMac used as a display must have macOS High Sierra (10.13.6) or earlier version installed while the source Mac must have macOS Catalina (10.15) or earlier installed.

To initiate the connection between two Macs and use your iMac as a secondary display, simply connect both computers using corresponding cables into each of their respective Mini Display Ports/Thunderbolt ports and turn on both machines. Once connected, you may configure various aspects of your primary monitor’s display settings like resolution or brightness levels and change how windows are displayed across multiple monitors. If done correctly, you should now have access to everything on your source machine directly from your iMac’s screen!

Compatible iMacs

Compatible iMacs from 2009 to 2014 offers Target Display Mode, a feature which allows users to connect the iMac’s display to a Mac for use as an external monitor. 2009-2010 27 inch iMacs feature Mini DisplayPort and require another Mac with Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt. Similarly, 2011-2014 iMac computers also require another Mac with Thunderbolt connection in order to receive the external data input. However, Retina iMacs released between 2014-2015 do not offer support for Target Display Mode due to insufficient technical specifications.

It is important that both Mac computers have compatible ports when setting up a Target Display Mode connection between two machines. For instance, if the original 2009-2010 27 inch monitor does not contain either Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt ports, it cannot be used as an external display for the connection. Similarly, even if the connector on one end of the chain has a matching port for receiving data transfers, without a compatible port on the other device no Target Display Mode is possible.

Screen Resolution Concerns

Optimal display clarity depends on achieving the appropriate screen resolution. The majority of older iMacs (2009, 2010, 2011, and some 2014 models) have a native resolution of 2560 x 1440. However, Apple released a number of 4K retina displays in 2014 with a native resolution of 5120 x 2880. This might be hard to match if you are using a laptop, and even if you can it might not necessarily support Target Display Mode. To access information regarding your Mac’s display resolutions, follow these steps: first, click on the Apple logo situated in the taskbar, then choose About This Mac, and finally select the Displays tab.

That should tell you exactly what your options are when it comes to setting up your PC accordingly. In any case, make sure to adjust the settings so that they work best with your device and give you the best quality possible when viewing images or videos onscreen.