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How to Turn Off MacBook Screen When Using External Monitor

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Sometimes, one screen is not enough. Other times, your MacBook screen might be too small for what you’re doing. Whatever the case may be, there may be moments when you need to use an external monitor with your MacBook. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to connect an external monitor to your MacBook. You can also customize how your displays would look and work together to optimize how you work.

You can opt to enable all your displays to mirror one another or just extend your display with the other monitors showing different apps or windows. Before you do anything, first check your requirements:

  1. Inspect the ports on your Mac, as you might need an adapter for it.
  2. Your Mac can only accommodate a number of displays depending on its version. You can check this by going to the Apple menu, represented by the Apple logo on the upper-left corner of your screen. Select About This Mac and choose Support. From there, you can click Specifications and a window will appear. You will see the number of displays under the Video Support section.

If you still want to use your Mac screen and just extend your workspace, you can opt to use extended desktop mode. This means that your external monitor can look different from the one on your Mac screen. With this, you can enjoy different apps open in full screen. You can also customize apps and windows on each display through Mission Control. Do note that if you place your Dock on the bottom of your screen, you can access it on any of your displays.

Here are the steps to take if you want to turn on extended desktop mode:

  1. Connect the external monitor to your Mac and ensure that it’s turned on.
  2. Click on the Apple menu and go to System Preferences.
  3. Select Displays and go to the Arrangement tab.
  4. Ensure that the Mirror Displays checkbox is unchecked.

Once your external monitor is connected to your Mac, you can arrange your displays to your liking. You can also change your primary display to whichever screen you prefer. Your primary display will show your desktop icons and app windows first. Setting this up is important for you to have a seamless workaround. To do this, simply follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Apple menu and go to System Preferences.
  2. Select Displays and go to the Arrangement tab.
  3. Drag the display to the desired position. While you’re moving the display, you will notice a red border appearing around the display.
  4. Drag the menu bar to the display that you want to set as your primary display.

On the other hand, if you want your displays to show the same apps and windows, you can simply use video mirroring. To turn it on, just do the following:

  1. Connect the external monitor to your Mac and ensure that it’s turned on.
  2. Click on the Apple menu and go to System Preferences.
  3. Select Displays and go to the Arrangement tab.
  4. Select the Mirror Displays checkbox to turn it on.

Now, what if you want to use the external monitor alone and wish to turn off your MacBook screen? This is called closed-clamshell or closed-display mode. To be able to do this, you will need the following:

  1. An external monitor that can connect through USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. If your external monitor can’t support this, get an AC power adapter.
  2. An external keyboard and mouse. You can also get an external trackpad if that’s what you prefer. It won’t matter if these peripherals are wired or wireless.
  3. If you’re using wired peripherals though, make sure that its connectors are compatible with your Mac. Otherwise, get an adapter that will enable you to connect both.

Once you’re all set with these requirements, here’s what you need to do to enable closed-display mode:

  1. Connect your peripherals to either your Mac or external monitor if it’s wired. If it’s wireless, pair them with your Mac instead. To do this, simply go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Choose Bluetooth and make sure that Bluetooth is turned on.
  2. Charge your Mac using the AC power adapter. Do note that there are actually some external displays that can also charge your Mac.
  3. Connect your external monitor to your Mac. If needed, you can use an Apple video adapter. There are also some external monitors that need to be connected to your Mac with a USB cable.
  4. Once your Mac desktop appears on the external display, you can close your MacBook lid. Sometimes, you’ll have to move your mouse or press a key to wake the external monitor.

When you’re done using the external monitor, you can disconnect it from your Mac by first putting your Mac to sleep. Just go to the Apple menu and select Sleep. Once your Mac is put to sleep, you can now disconnect your external monitor and you’re done.


Also read: How to Clean Your Mac Screen

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

3 thoughts on “How to Turn Off MacBook Screen When Using External Monitor

  1. I must admire the way you’ve shared an in-depth review of the mackbook screen with each detail having a screenshot to better provide insights on its specs. I’m a frequent Google user and just came across your blog as I’m an Apple Fan and keep searching everything about it. Just loved the way you’ve written every minute detail about it. Keep up the Good Work, Mate!

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