How to use old imac as external monitor?

If you own an old iMac that you no longer use as your primary computer but still want to make the most of its beautiful display, repurposing it as an external monitor is a great option. This allows you to use the iMac’s screen with another computer, such as a MacBook or a PC. In this article, we will guide you through the process to help you utilize your old iMac as an external display.


Before proceeding, there are a few things you need to ensure for a successful setup:

– An iMac that supports Target Display Mode: Not all iMac models are compatible with Target Display Mode, so you need to verify if your specific model supports this feature. Models released from 2009 to 2014 generally support Target Display Mode.
– Appropriate cables and adapters: Depending on the ports available on your iMac and the device you want to connect to it, you may need specific cables and adapters. Common connection options are Thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort, and HDMI.

Step-by-Step Guide:

Once you have confirmed that your iMac meets the necessary requirements, follow these steps to use it as an external monitor:

1. Check which ports are available: First, identify the input ports on your iMac. Most older iMacs have either a Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort, while newer ones may have additional HDMI options.

2. Determine the output ports of your other device: Next, identify the output ports on the device you want to connect to the iMac. Laptops often have HDMI or Thunderbolt ports.

3. Obtain the appropriate cables and adapters: Purchase the necessary cables and adapters to connect the iMac and the other device. For example, if your iMac has a Thunderbolt port, and your laptop has an HDMI port, you will need a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI cable or adapter.

4. Turn off your iMac: Make sure your iMac is turned off before proceeding.

5. Connect the devices: Connect one end of the cable to the appropriate port on your iMac and the other end to the corresponding port on the secondary device.

6. Turn on both devices: Switch on your iMac and the device you are connecting it to.

7. Enable Target Display Mode: Press and hold the Command (⌘) and F2 keys together on the iMac keyboard to activate Target Display Mode. This should allow your iMac to function as an external display.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1: Can any iMac be used as an external monitor?

Yes, most iMac models released between 2009 and 2014 can be used as an external monitor using Target Display Mode.

Q2: What if my iMac doesn’t have a Thunderbolt or Mini DisplayPort?

If your iMac doesn’t have any of these ports, it may not support Target Display Mode. You can verify this by checking Apple’s support page or consulting your iMac’s user manual.

Q3: Can I use my iMac’s touch functionality in Target Display Mode?

No, when using an iMac as an external monitor, it will function solely as a display. The touch functionality is not available in this mode.

Q4: Can I connect a PC or laptop to my iMac using Target Display Mode?

Yes, as long as your iMac supports the feature, you can connect it to any device with a compatible output port, such as a PC, laptop, or even some gaming consoles.

Q5: Can I use Target Display Mode wirelessly?

No, Target Display Mode requires a physical connection between the iMac and the other device using appropriate cables.

Q6: Do I need to install any additional software?

No, Target Display Mode is supported natively by iMac models that have this feature. Therefore, no additional software installation is required.

Q7: Can I use a MacBook as the secondary device to connect to an iMac?

Yes, you can connect your MacBook to an iMac using Target Display Mode. This allows you to utilize the larger display of the iMac while working on your MacBook.

Q8: Will audio be transferred from the secondary device to the iMac?

No, Target Display Mode only transfers the video output. You will need separate speakers or audio connections to listen to the audio from the secondary device.

Q9: Can I use Target Display Mode with an iPad?

No, Target Display Mode is not supported with iPads or any other iOS devices.

Q10: Can I use multiple iMacs as external monitors?

No, Target Display Mode only allows one iMac to function as an external display at a time.

Q11: Are there any restrictions on the resolution or refresh rate?

The resolution and refresh rate of the iMac’s display may vary depending on the specific model. Consult Apple’s support documentation for detailed information about the capabilities of your iMac.

Q12: Can I use Target Display Mode with a Windows PC?

Yes, Target Display Mode can be used with some Windows PCs that have a compatible output port, such as Thunderbolt or HDMI, and a supported graphics card. Check your PC’s documentation for compatibility.

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