FIX: MacBook won’t connect to external display

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • If your MacBook won't connect to an external display, you won't be able to do work that requires a bigger screen.
  • To fix this issue, you should connect your MacBook to the charger, and make sure that your cables are working properly.
  • In order to always have access to useful information, consider bookmarking our useful Mac webpage.
  • If you want to see more practical guides, visit our Mac Fix Hub.
Macbook isn't connecting to external display

Using an external display with your MacBook is a great way to get extra space. However, issues with external displays can occur. Many users reported that the MacBook isn’t connecting to an external display. This can be a problem, but there’s a way to fix it.

What can I do if my external display is not working on Mac?

1. Connect your MacBook to the charger

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Certain MacBook models don’t have enough power to handle an external display, and in order to fix that, it’s advised to connect your MacBook to a charger while using an external display.


2.  Check your cables

If you’re having issues with an external display, we encourage you to check your cables. Make sure that everything is properly connected. In addition to checking the cable connection, it’s advised to check the HDMI standard.

Not all HDMI cables support 2560×1440 resolution at 240Hz, so try lowering the resolution or refresh rate and see if that helps. Alternatively, try to get HDMI cables that support HDMI 2.1 standard. It’s also advised to use Apple-certified HDMI cables. To be on the safe side, you can always buy HDMI cables directly from Apple.


3. Try restarting the external display

Sometimes you can fix the problems with external display simply by restarting the external display. You can do that by following these steps:

  1. Make sure that your external display is connected to your MacBook.
  2. Disconnect the HDMI cable from your MacBook.
  3. Wait for a few moments and then connect the HDMI cable again.
  4. Turn on your external display.

4. Connect the HDMI cable directly to your MacBook

hdmi port macbook macbook not connecting to external display

If you’re using a display hub or a switch box, try disconnecting the HDMI cable from it and connect it directly to your MacBook. Sometimes these devices can cause problems, therefore it’s usually the best to connect the external display directly to your MacBook.


MacBook not connecting to Dell monitor

1. Use a USB graphics adapter

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According to users, a quick workaround for Dell monitors is to use a USB graphics adapter. These are basically USB 3.0 DisplayPort Adapters, and by using them, you might be able to circumvent this problem.


2. Configure your input sources

One way to fix this problem is to set your monitor to use the DP1.1 signal. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. On your monitor, go to Input sources and select DP.
  2. Press and hold the select button for 8 seconds or so.
  3. You’ll be asked to enable DP1.1a. Be sure to accept the change.

Note: This solution works for the U2719DC model, but it might not work with other models.


MacBook Pro not connecting to LG monitor

If you have an LG monitor, you should know the solutions above should work with LG models as well.

These are a couple of simple guidelines that can help you if your MacBook isn’t connecting to an external display.

FAQ: Learn more about display issues on Mac

  • How do I make my Mac only show an external monitor?

Navigate to System Preferences, click Displays, and choose the Arrangement option. Next, uncheck the Mirror displays option, and drag the white menu bar to your external monitor.

  • How do I fix my Thunderbolt Display?

To fix your Thunderbolt Display, you will need to shut down the device, disconnect all cables and USB  devices, and then start the device again.

  • How do I update my Thunderbolt Display firmware?

To update your display firmware, click the Apple logo, choose About this Mac, click on the Software Update option, and then click the Update button.

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