Using a second monitor as you do your work or play provides added room for more open windows at the same time, or just a place you can play a movie or do your research without having to flip back-and-forth between windows.
I find that most people would like to use a second display, but most don’t want to try it for fear that it will be too technical to figure out. But the most difficult part is determining the correct cable to use and going to purchase it.
You will need a cable from a store, such as Apple, BestBuy, Walmart or another, or you can order your cable online.
If your Mac is newer, it probably has an HDMI port and if your television or second display has an HDMI port, this is a simple process. All you need to do is purchase an HDMI to HDMI cable to connect your Mac. Be sure to get the appropriate length.
Another way to connect your Mac, if it is a little older, is to use the Thunderbolt or a Mini DisplayPort to connect your second monitor. Both the Thunderbolt and the Mini DisplayPort use the same plug. The difference is the Thunderbolt not only supports the Mini DisplayPort adapter, it also receives a Thunderbolt signal. We might get into more detail about that some other time. For now, all you need to know is that you can use this port to attach another display. See your Mac’s specifications if you are not sure where this port is located.
The second display you use may have an HDMI, DVI or VGA connector. I recommend using HDMI if it is available. Depending on your second display, the cable you purchase should be either an HDMI/Mini DisplayPort to HDMI/DVI/VGA cable. I used my MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) and the cable I purchased was a “Mini DisplayPort to HDMI” cable. If you find this too confusing, contact the Apple Store and have an associate help you purchase the correct cable for your configuration.
Connecting the two is easier than identifying and purchasing the cable. Turn on your Mac and the display you are going to connect. Plug in the cable to the second monitor and then plug it into the port on your Mac. You may need to select the new source on your second display to get it to show the signal from your Mac. In most cases, once you find the correct input source for your second display, you will then see your Mac’s desktop displayed on the second display and your Mac.
If your screen doesn’t show the menu bar or the dock, you can press the Option and F1 or F2 keys at the same time (if your keyboard has the option to increase/decrease brightness), and the Displays System Preferences pane will open, allowing you to make the adjustments needed to display correctly.
For the most part, connecting a second display works easily and flawlessly, but if you experience problems or you have any questions, you can contact the Apple Store directly or me through my email below.
For more than 15 years, Scott Lindsay has helped thousands of people better their skills, publishing more than 500 articles about Apple and Microsoft software, the computer and the Internet. You can reach Scott for comments or questions at ScottLindsay@live.com.