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Use a MacBook with the main display off Laptop Macs
I figured this out last night. Don't know if this is a known thing or not, but I was pretty psyched about it. If you want to use an external monitor with your MacBook in "clamshell" mode (but with the screen open), but don't have the peripherals, here's what to do:
  1. With your MacBook on and running, plug in your external monitor and turn it on (if the monitor isn't already on).
  2. Depending on the way you have your display prefs set, you'll either be in mirror mode or extended desktop mode. If in extended desktop mode, change to mirror mode. If in mirror mode, keep it that way.
  3. Close your MacBook. The whole system (including external display will go to sleep).
  4. Take any kind of USB device and plug it into the MacBook (I used an external media card reader). This will wake up the external monitor and the MacBook. You should have your desktop displayed on your external monitor at its full resolution (as long as it's equal to or less than the MacBook's highest achievable resolution, I think).
Now, you don't have an external keyboard and mouse, so how do you control the MacBook? Well, just open the MacBook up now. The screen will stay off (and it is off, not just dimmed), but the MacBook's keyboard and trackpad will be fully functional, controlling the pointer on the external monitor's desktop! Why would someone do this instead of just keeping the MacBook open in the first place while in mirror mode?

Well, I find having the external monitor and the MacBook's screen both on in mirror mode to be quite distracting. Since you are using the MacBook's keyboard and trackpad, you pretty much have to have it sitting in front of you. And, you pretty much have to have the external monitor sitting in front of you as well. With both the screens on, your eyes tend to wander from one to the other, even though they are both showing the same desktop (ie, mirror mode).

However, with the MacBook's screen off, there is no distraction. In fact, you can partially close the MacBook, keeping enough room for your hands to access the keyboard and trackpad, so you would have even less distraction. Another benefit is not having to worry about the MacBook overheating with it completely shut (clamshell mode), but on. With it open (either fully or partially), I'm sure it helps to vent heat away from the MacBook.

Anyway, I just thought I would share. Again, this may be a known thing, but it was completely new to me! I swear!

[robg adds: I believe this should work for a MacBook Pro, or potentially any laptop. I thought we had run something similar, but all I cound find was an older tip about iBooks. Apologies if this is a duplicate.]
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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: superg on Jun 09, '06 08:15:05AM

I think this is documented by Apple. Good to get the word out though



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: codingismy11to7 on Jun 09, '06 08:25:37AM

Yeah, this is in the MBP manual. Although, it says you need to plugin a keyboard and mouse, so this tip is still useful.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: galendw on Jun 09, '06 08:33:44AM

What I don't get is why one wouldn't want to use Extended Desktop for the equivalent of two monitors, but to each his own, I guess.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: hamarkus on Jun 09, '06 09:51:44AM

Working on a single large monitor instead of a large and a small one together in extended desktop mode can be preferable for a couple of reasons:
- The two screens, not being the same modell, will have different brightness and colour representation as well as dpi resolution, which can be very distracting.
- Fullscreen mode always defaults to the smaller screen of the laptop.
- Combined screen geometry is no longer a simple rectangle and hot corners and edges are in more awkward positions or simply too far away.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: mayo2ca on Jun 10, '06 07:42:07PM

Even better reason ... If I have 20" or 23" screen, putting the small 15" laptop screen beside it is annoying. The physical bottom/top of the laptop screen doesn't match the bigger screen, the bottom and top of the desktop doesn't match up when you move your cursor, etc.

I can deal with different brightness, colors being slightly off (unless it's my permanent desktop - then it would drive me nuts), but when using two screens I tend to put things like drawers, toolboxes, etc over the bezel in the middle. Having two screens each side is incredibly annoying and confusing at times, one one side the window is on the bottom, but the drawer of the window that's on the other screen is in the middle of the other screen, etc...



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: greengeek on Jun 09, '06 08:41:30AM

There should be no need to set the machine to Mirror Displays. Even in Extend Desktop mode, if you wake the machine with the lid closed, only the external screen will turn on, and you can then use either the internal keyboard/trackpad or USB keyboard and mouse to use the system.

As far as why you wouldn't want both screens on, depending on the monitor you have, if the screens aren't very well matched, it could be a bit disorienting to look back and forth between them. Color temperature or DPI mismatches, or a cramped desk space, can make the two screen setup more of a headache than it's worth.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: Lutin on Jun 12, '06 04:30:17AM
There should be no need to set the machine to Mirror Displays.
That's right. On a powerbook with a second screen plugged-in, in extended mode, I closed the lid. Then I woke the laptop via bluetooth (no USB keyboard available at the time), and it worked as described.
I put it to sleep and wake it up again, to get the built-in screen back on. Still worked, except that the windowserver crashed. As far as I know, It didn't cause any problem.

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I've always considered this "feature" a bug
Authored by: sr105 on Jun 09, '06 09:08:01AM

Next up, try this:
1. Work on your laptop with *anything* usb conected
2. Decide it's time to go home for the day and close the lid to put it to sleep.
3. Unplug the power, video, and the usb connections so you can pack up
4. Your laptop wakes from sleep while closed due to the removal of the usb device(s). The only way to remedy this is to open the lid and wait for 10-30 seconds (or crash your powerbook, your choice) and then close it again to put it back to sleep

Does anyone know how to disable the USB wakes laptop "feature"?

Thanks.

BTW I've had my powerbook crashed many times by airport screeners who on their own quickly opened the laptop and shut it again (1-2 seconds). The powerbooks just don't deal with this although they have gotten better with updates.



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I've always considered this "feature" a bug
Authored by: hamarkus on Jun 09, '06 10:03:55AM
There is a knowledge base article on how to disable this via the Terminal, I have been told by an Apple store.
You can also switch off Safe Sleep, which makes falling asleep take much longer, via the Terminal. See for instructions here:
http://www.andrewescobar.com/archive/2005/11/11/how-to-safe-sleep-your-mac/

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I've always considered this "feature" a bug
Authored by: jaysoffian on Jun 09, '06 11:39:57AM
I've always considered this "feature" a bug
Authored by: matxey on Jun 09, '06 12:44:26PM

OK, pretty straightforward - try disconnecting first power, THEN USB, and then video.
At least on my TiBook, system goes to sleep when DVI video is connected and external power goes off. Consequently, unplugging USB without power but with video does not wake it from sleep.

Cheers,



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Power first: yes.
Authored by: MattHaffner on Jun 12, '06 11:22:09AM

My laptop travels home with me every night, and it gets used as a desktop during the day with the lid closed. On both my older Ti and my newer Al, unplugging the power first before anything else prevents the wakeup. I don't have a MB* to test it on, but I would imagine the behavior is the same--try it out!

Even if you forget (like I do sometimes) and unplug out of order, there's no harm done. The machine might wake up and go back to sleep, but you don't need to open the screen. Within 5-10 sec of you removing the power, if the clam is closed, it should go to sleep.

mh



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: rainer3 on Jun 09, '06 09:48:54AM

You can actually do this a bit easier:

  • With your Macbook or Macbook Pro sleeping with the lid closed, plug in the external monitor (make sure external monitor is on)
  • make sure your Macbook or Macbook Pro is connected to its power supply
  • plug in a USB device
Your machine is now using the external monitor. At this time you can open the lid and it won't activate.

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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: neocodesoftware on Jan 08, '09 10:06:14AM

make sure your mac is set to sleep NOT hibernate

these tips weren't working for me - until I realized I was hibernating!!!

good tip!

---
Neo Code Software, Design - Develop - Deploy mission critical web apps for SMEs to Fortune 500s, http://www.neocodesoftware.com

FileMaker, AppleScript, PHP /



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: macheel on Jun 09, '06 11:46:31AM

Umm...what, exactly, is the advantage to this method versus simply holding the screen dimmer button until the display blackens? Seems like a whole lot of out-of-the-way silliness for a simple result if you ask me, but perhaps someone has a good explanation? Inquiring minds wanna know...

Thanks!



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: kroepke on Jun 10, '06 03:29:48AM

The real use for this is that the internal screen is not only not showing anything, but isn't using any resources either. Thus if you run a higher resolution on the external screen (as I do with my PowerBook G4 all the time) you do not take the performance hit of having to drive the internal screen, too.
Of course this only applies to the extended desktop mode. The external screen simply has all the video RAM for itself, and is thus faster...



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: hamarkus on Jun 10, '06 09:13:33AM

You cannot loose your cursor on a display that is off, you can do so on one that is dimmed.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: mayo2ca on Jun 10, '06 07:34:59PM

Turning down the brightness actually doesn't power off the monitor, and it still puts out some heat. I wouldn't recommend doing this with the lid almost closed (ie, down but not locked in). Also, if you look close enough even with the brightness at 0%, you can, barely mind you, still see the stuff on the screen.

The difference is exactly that .. turned off monitor versus minimal brightness.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: jgl24 on Jun 09, '06 02:18:16PM
Why would you do this instead of dimming? Well...

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there is a difference between dimming the screen and having it off. I have dimmed mine all the way in a really dark room and can still see very very faintly that the screen is still on. So I think dimmed all the way is just that-- it is still on.

When I am using a secondary display for a long time, I want to make sure that I am using as little power as possible. (See pics of my carputer to see an example of a good use of closed-lid operation.)

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Function Key 7
Authored by: mountainash on Jun 09, '06 07:46:05PM

Can't you just use 'F7' on the keyboard to toggle through the various display states?

This method (or very similar) is on the installed "Mac OS Help" - "Using your laptop computer with the lid closed"



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: diamondsw on Jun 09, '06 09:57:33PM

A far easier way to wake a sleeping MacBook or MacBook Pro is to use the included IR remote. Hitting any buttons will cause the computer to wake up and enter Front Row. No devices to plug and unplug, and it's all included with your computer. :)



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: Pylon on Jun 12, '06 11:07:02PM

That's great but it seems that movies only play sound??



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: wilton on Jun 10, '06 01:13:11PM

Thanks for posting this. It actually helps the speed of my powerbook. I have a 12" powerbook connected to 24" Dell display.

The graphics are much snappier now !!

Will



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: timhaigh on Jun 12, '06 08:18:47AM

This info has been around for long time but thanks for reminding us.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: david-bo on Jun 23, '06 03:05:45AM

What I would like to see is a hint that describes how to work with the Powerbook open but with the internal monitor shut down (as in this hint). Then let computer go to sleep and then wake it up with the lid open _without_ the internal monitor switching on.

---
http://www.google.com/search?as_q=%22Authored+by%3A+david-bo%22&num=10&hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&btnG=



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: simbalala on Jul 31, '06 10:25:15PM

Re: "Unsleeping" with PB screen still off...

I wonder if anyone's come up with a solution for this. It may be risky though since a "book" with the screen turned off and no second monitor connected (or operational) could make the machine virtually unusable. User panic could ensue.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: bugmenot on Oct 03, '06 04:25:59PM

I liked the IR suggestion -- easy and works great! Esp since, most of the time, I connect to my 37" external LCD specifically to watch movies etc via Front Row.

Now, my question is, how do I easily get back to my Macbook's internal display?

When I reopen the clamshell, it's still on the external. I hit the F7, but that didn't do anything. Any simple ways besides shutting down?



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: glusk on Oct 03, '06 05:07:49PM

The system will "Detect Displays" when the system is started, wakes from sleep, a display is connected or disconnected, CMD-F2 is pressed or the "Detect Displays" button in the Displays System Preference is clicked.

If the lid is closed during the detect process, the internal display will not be on or take up any resources.

For years on many PBs with external displays I have started the system with the power button and closed the lid quickly before the display is detected. Then, as this poster indicates, you may re-open the lid and use the keyboard/trackpad.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: amadeus on Nov 20, '06 03:28:24PM

its a great hint you provided. However... i still have an issue.

When i try to watch a video using front row there is no picture, only sound. Do you have a workaround for that?

Thanks...



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: felix-fi on Mar 06, '07 09:10:47AM

Where is the sensor to simulate lid closing without really doing it. I have seen it once, somebody putting a coin or something somewhere and the machine went to sleep...



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: neocodesoftware on Jan 08, '09 10:08:06AM

make sure your mac is set to sleep NOT hibernate

these tips weren't working for me - until I realized I was hibernating!!!

good tip!

---
Neo Code Software, Design - Develop - Deploy mission critical web apps for SMEs to Fortune 500s, http://www.neocodesoftware.com

FileMaker, AppleScript, PHP /



[ Reply to This | # ]
Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: MiggittyMacDaddy on Mar 01, '10 11:45:38AM

Thanks, this tip worked perfectly for me! I damaged my Macbook screen when I used a wet towel to clean it, half the screen is no longer usable! With this method, my laptop is still usable. Thanks!



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: cruzer on Dec 11, '10 01:49:58PM

Excellent - quick fix. Closed my Macbook pro -> plugged in wireless mouse usb to usb port and that was it. My monitorís resolution setting which are higher than my Macbook proís came up thus I was able to set it to my monitorís resolution - nice! Your comment from 2006 is still working in late 2010.
Thanks very much and Merry Christmas!!



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: cavegirl47 on Dec 22, '10 12:48:33AM

I'm pretty sure the laptop must be plugged into a power source (not just running on its own battery) in order for it to wake up from sleep by connecting a USB device. Whenever I try to follow this process without my laptop plugged into the wall, the computer won't wake up without me opening it.

PLUG YOUR LAPTOP IN WHEN YOU DO THIS.



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: wazzle638 on Jul 15, '11 02:39:08AM

Up until Snow Leopard this trick works, but in Lion not anymore.

I use it everyday, as my white MacBook's screen burns away if I keep the lid closed while heavily using the processor and hard drive.

In Lion, it appears that the OS runs a "Detect Displays" every time you open or close the lid. In itself that is nice, the user doesn't have to think about what to do when he attaches an external monitor and closes the lid (or re-opens the lid etc). But for me, with my melting LCD, this is not really what I want.

I ended up installing SwitchResX, only for using the 'disable display' option, with which I now, in Lion, manually have to switch off the laptop screen when my external display is attached.

Does anyone know of a simpler (scripting? Applescript? plist? Without 3rd party applications, I mean) solution?



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Use a MacBook with the main display off
Authored by: 8628268 on Sep 04, '11 11:36:59PM

Works with mbpro 15' (mid-2010) running Lion. Thanks :-)



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