Can I Use My Macbook as A Monitor [2024 Full Guide]

How to Use Your MacBook/iMac as Secondary Monitors

In the dynamic digital landscape of today, the demand for extra screen space has become increasingly significant, spanning both professional and recreational spheres. Whether it’s to boost productivity, undertake intricate multimedia projects, or simply to elevate the entertainment experience, the advantages of having additional screen space are irrefutable.

This all-inclusive guide delves into how you can utilize your MacBook or iMac not merely as independent devices, but also as secondary monitors. This approach effectively broadens your digital workspace, thereby optimizing your computing experience.

Can I Use My MacBook as a Monitor?

Yes, you can use your MacBook as a monitor for another device, including a PC or another Mac. Here are some methods:

  • AirPlay: If you have macOS Monterey installed on your MacBook, you can use the AirPlay feature to mirror or extend the display of another Apple device, such as an iPhone, iPad, or another Mac. This feature works both wirelessly and wired using a USB cable. However, please note that this feature is available on MacBook Pro (2018 and later), MacBook Air (2018 and later), iMac (2019 and later), iMac Pro (2017), Mac mini (2020 and later), and Mac Pro (2019).
  • Screen Sharing: You can enable ‘Screen Sharing’ in the settings on your Windows PC and then mirror your PC’s display onto the MacBook or extend it by using the MacBook as a secondary monitor.
  • HDMI or USB-C: If your MacBook model has an HDMI port or USB-C ports, you can connect it to another device using an HDMI cable or Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter.
  • Third-party Apps: There are also third-party apps like AirDroid Cast that allow you to use your MacBook as a second monitor for your PC.

How to Use Your MacBook as a Secondary Monitor

1. Using AirPlay (for Apple devices)

The performance may vary depending on the method used and the specific models of the devices involved. It’s always a good idea to check the compatibility of your devices before proceeding.

Requirements: macOS Monterey or later on MacBook Pro (2018 and later), MacBook Air (2018 and later), iMac (2019 and later), iMac Pro (2017), Mac mini (2020 and later), and Mac Pro (2019).

Steps:

  1. Ensure both the MacBook and the other Apple device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac) are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  2. On the device you want to mirror or extend, open the Control Center and select the "Screen Mirroring" or "AirPlay" option.
  3. Choose your MacBook from the list of available devices.
  4. To stop mirroring, go back to the "Screen Mirroring" or "AirPlay" option and select "Stop Mirroring".

2. Screen Sharing (for connecting a Windows PC to a MacBook)

Steps:

  1. On your Windows PC, go to Settings > System > Projecting to this PC.
  2. Set up your preferences for projecting to this PC.
  3. On your MacBook, open a web browser or a compatible screen sharing application.
  4. Enter the required information to connect to your Windows PC and start the screen sharing session.

3. Using HDMI or USB-C

Requirements: A MacBook with an HDMI port or USB-C ports, an HDMI cable, or an Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter.

Steps:

  1. Connect the HDMI or USB-C cable from your MacBook to the HDMI port on the other device.
  2. On the other device, set up the display settings to mirror or extend the screen to your MacBook.
  3. Adjust the display settings on your MacBook if necessary, through System Preferences > Displays.

4. Third-party Apps (like AirDroid Cast)

Steps:

  1. Download and install a third-party application like AirDroid Cast on both your MacBook and the other device (PC or Mac).
  2. Open the application on both devices and follow the on-screen instructions to connect them. This may involve scanning a QR code or entering a code.
  3. Once connected, choose whether to mirror or extend the display from the other device to your MacBook.

Each method serves different needs and setups, from leveraging AirPlay for Apple ecosystem integration, using screen sharing for Windows PCs, to employing cables for a direct connection, or utilizing third-party apps for a versatile solution across platforms. Choose the one that best fits your requirements and devices for an expanded and efficient digital workspace.

Using iMac as a Monitor for MacBook

Target Display Mode, first introduced in 2009 with the 27-inch iMac, revolutionized how users could repurpose their iMac as a secondary display. This feature, however, was phased out in models post-2014, making it a unique attribute of certain older iMac models.

To connect your MacBook to an iMac using Target Display Mode, you'll need:

  • A compatible iMac and MacBook.
  • The appropriate cable (usually a Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort cable).
  • To press Command-F2 on the iMac to activate Target Display Mode.
  • For newer models, AirPlay can be used to wirelessly connect the MacBook to the iMac.

Troubleshooting: Common issues include the iMac not recognizing the MacBook, which can often be resolved by checking cable connections or restarting both devices. Compatibility issues are also prevalent, so ensure both devices support the necessary features.

Pros and Cons of Using a MacBook as a Monitor

Advantages

  • Larger Display: Using a MacBook as a monitor can provide a larger display size, allowing you to see more details.
  • Multitasking: It makes it easier to operate multiple programs simultaneously.
  • Comfort: It can offer physical comforts like reduced eye strains, backache, and neck problems.
  • Workspace: You get more room for windows, a better screen experience, and longer working hours.

Disadvantages

  • Compatibility: Not all MacBooks can be used as a monitor as they do not all have a built-in HDMI port. Only some models, like the MacBook Pro versions of 2012 or 2013, possibly contain an HDMI port.
  • Performance: If you use a video capture card to use the Mac as a monitor, you might face lags, especially if you want to play video games.
  • Limitations: Some methods, like using virtual monitor software, will not let you use the monitor as a primary monitor. You can only use it as a secondary display.
  • Audio: MacBook Pro models (late 2008 – early 2009) don’t share the audio even if you use the HDMI. In that case, you have to use the headphone jack or built-in speakers for the audio output.

Please note that the performance may vary depending on the method used and the specific models of the devices involved. It’s always a good idea to check the compatibility of your devices before proceeding.

Using Your MacBook as a Monitor for PS4/PS5

Yes, you can use your MacBook as a monitor for your PS4 or PS5, but it’s not as straightforward as plugging in an HDMI cable. MacBooks’ ports are designed for output, not input, so they can’t receive signals from your PS4 or PS5 directly.

However, you can use a feature called Remote Play on your PS4 and PS5. This feature allows you to stream gameplay via Bluetooth from your console to another device, such as a MacBook. Here’s how you can set it up:

  1. Download and install the PS Remote Play app on your Mac.
  2. Enable Remote Play on your console. On PS4, the setting is in Function Screen > Settings > Remote Play Connection Settings. On PS5, it’s in Home Screen > Settings > System > Remote Play.
  3. Enable the Stay Connected to the Internet and Enabled Turning on PS4/PS5 from Network settings.
  4. Turn on your PS4 or PS5 or activate rest mode.
  5. Now, you should be able to play your PS4 or PS5 games on your MacBook screen.

Please note that this method requires a stable internet connection and might not provide the same quality of experience as playing on a TV or dedicated monitor. Also, the PS Remote Play is optimized for the latest Mac M1/M2 devices, but it can support Mac computers with at least 2 GB of RAM, 40 MB or more of storage space, and macOS High Sierra or above.

Exploring Portable Screens as Monitor Alternatives

Portable screens serve as an innovative solution for those in need of extra screen real estate. These devices, characterized by their lightweight and compact design, can be effortlessly connected to a MacBook, thereby offering a display that surpasses the MacBook’s screen size.

Comparative Analysis: When juxtaposed with the use of a MacBook or iMac as a secondary monitor, portable screens have the upper hand in terms of display size and are engineered specifically for prolonged use. This makes them more apt for certain professional endeavors. However, it’s worth noting that they necessitate an additional expenditure and might not always live up to the resolution and color accuracy of Apple devices.

Recommendations: Among the portable screens that are compatible with MacBooks and highly acclaimed by users, the Arzopa, ASUS ZenScreen, and HP EliteDisplay stand out. These models have garnered praise for their portability, user-friendly nature, and high-quality displays, thereby making them a practical choice for professionals who are constantly on the move.

Arzopa Z1FC Portable Gaming Monitor | 144Hz 16.1'' FHD

As for the Arzopa Z1FC, it’s a highly recommended model due to its excellent performance and compatibility with MacBooks. It’s known for its superior display quality and easy setup, making it a great choice for those seeking a portable and reliable monitor solution.


Conclusion

Throughout this article, we've explored the various ways in which a MacBook or iMac can be repurposed as a secondary monitor. From the technical requirements and step-by-step setup guides to the comparison with portable screens and the benefits of multi-screen setups, we've covered a range of topics to help you make an informed decision about expanding your digital workspace. Whether you choose to utilize an existing MacBook or iMac, invest in a portable screen, or even opt for a traditional monitor setup, the key is to find a solution that best fits your individual needs and enhances your productivity and digital experience.

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