Transition to a Bigger Screen: How to Close MacBook and Use Monitor for an Enhanced Workspace

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Are you looking to elevate your MacBook experience by connecting it to an external monitor? Using a monitor with your MacBook not only provides you with more screen real estate but also allows you to reduce eye strain, enhance your productivity, and enjoy gaming on a larger display. This comprehensive guide will discuss how to close your MacBook and use a monitor with it, including choosing the right monitor, connecting your MacBook, setting up an external keyboard and mouse, optimizing your monitor setup, and troubleshooting common issues.

Choosing the Right Monitor

Factors to Consider

When selecting a monitor for your MacBook, considering the following factors is crucial:

  • Screen Size: Choose a monitor size that suits your needs and desk space. Bigger monitors provide more workspace, but they can also result in increased eye strain if you sit too close.
  • Resolution: Higher resolutions provide sharper images but may require more processing power. Ensure your MacBook can support the monitor’s resolution before purchasing.
  • Monitor Compatibility: Ensure the monitor supports the connection type used by your MacBook, like USB-C, Thunderbolt, or Mini DisplayPort.

Popular Monitor Models for MacBooks

Some popular monitor models compatible with MacBooks include:

  • LG UltraFine 5K Display
  • Dell UltraSharp U2720Q
  • ASUS ProArt PA278CV
  • Samsung U32J590

Required Cables and Adapters

Identifying the MacBook’s Port Type

To determine which cable or adapter you need, first identify your MacBook’s port type. Check your MacBook model specifications or the official Apple Support website for this information.

Common Cables and Adapters

Depending on your MacBook’s port type, you may need one of the following adapters:

  • USB-C to HDMI: For MacBooks with USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Thunderbolt to HDMI: For MacBooks with Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • Mini DisplayPort to HDMI: For MacBooks with Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 1 ports

Purchasing Tips and Recommendations

When buying cables and adapters, consider purchasing the official Apple-branded products or reliable third-party options. Read reviews and confirm that the product is compatible with your MacBook model.

Connecting the MacBook to the Monitor

Steps to Connect the MacBook

Follow these steps to connect your MacBook to the monitor:

  1. Plug the adapter into the MacBook’s corresponding port.
  2. Connect the HDMI cable to the monitor and adapter.
  3. Turn on the monitor and ensure it is set to the correct input source.

Display Settings

After connecting your MacBook to the monitor, adjust the display settings:

  • Accessing display preferences: Click on the Apple menu, then choose System Preferences and Displays.
  • Arranging multiple displays: In the Arrangement tab, rearrange the displays as desired by dragging their icons.
  • Adjusting screen resolution: In the Display tab, select the desired resolution from the Scaled list.

Closing MacBook and Using an External Keyboard and Mouse

Preventing the MacBook from Sleeping When Closed

Before closing your MacBook, you need to ensure it won’t enter sleep mode:

  • Changing energy saver preferences: Go to System Preferences, select Energy Saver, and disable the Put hard disks to sleep when possible option.
  • Using software to disable sleep mode: Tools like Amphetamine or InsomniaX can help you prevent sleep mode while your MacBook is closed.

Connecting an External Keyboard and Mouse

To complete your setup, connect an external keyboard and mouse to your MacBook:

  • Wired keyboards and mice: Plug the devices directly into your MacBook or through a USB hub.
  • Wireless keyboards and mice: USB dongles can be used to connect wireless peripherals.
  • Pairing Bluetooth devices: Go to System Preferences, click on Bluetooth, and follow the on-screen instructions to pair your Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

Tips for Optimizing the Monitor Setup

Optimal Screen Height and Distance

To reduce eye strain and improve ergonomics, position the monitor at an appropriate height and distance. The top of the screen should be at eye level or slightly below, and the monitor should be at an arm’s length away.

Adjusting Monitor Settings

Tweak your monitor’s settings for the best visual experience:

  • Brightness: Adjust the screen’s brightness to match your ambient lighting conditions.
  • Contrast: Set the contrast to provide clear and crisp images.
  • Color settings: Calibrate the monitor’s colors to ensure accurate reproduction, especially for color-sensitive tasks like photo editing.

Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

Some helpful keyboard shortcuts to learn for a more efficient workflow include:

  • Command + Tab: Switch between open applications
  • Command + Space: Access Spotlight search
  • Control + Up Arrow: Display Mission Control

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Monitor Not Detected

If the monitor is not detected, try the following:

  • Check the cables and adapters for any damage or loose connections.
  • Restart both the monitor and MacBook.
  • Reset the MacBook’s System Management Controller (SMC).

Incorrect Screen Resolution

If the screen resolution is not correct, revisit the MacBook’s display preferences and select the appropriate resolution.

MacBook Going Into Sleep Mode When Closed

If your MacBook enters sleep mode when closed, double-check the energy saver preferences and ensure any sleep-preventing software is running.


In conclusion, learning how to close your MacBook and use a monitor can significantly improve your computing experience by providing a larger workspace, better ergonomics, and improved productivity. With the right setup and peripherals, your MacBook can become the centerpiece of a powerful workstation. So, go ahead and explore different monitor setups to find the one that works best for you and elevates your productivity to new heights.


Can I use any monitor with my MacBook?

Yes, as long as the monitor supports the connection type used by your MacBook and your MacBook can support the monitor’s resolution.

Do I need a specific type of adapter for my MacBook?

Yes, you need an adapter compatible with your MacBook’s port type, such as USB-C, Thunderbolt, or Mini DisplayPort.

How can I prevent my MacBook from sleeping when closed?

To prevent sleep mode, change your MacBook’s energy saver preferences or use sleep-preventing software like Amphetamine or InsomniaX.

Can I use a keyboard and mouse while my MacBook is closed?

Yes, you can connect an external keyboard and mouse to your MacBook using USB or Bluetooth connections.

How do I adjust the screen resolution when using a monitor?

To adjust the screen resolution, go to System Preferences on your MacBook, click on Displays, and select the desired resolution from the Scaled list.

How do I connect my MacBook to a monitor wirelessly?

You can use an Apple TV and the AirPlay feature to wirelessly connect your MacBook to a monitor or a TV.

Does using a monitor with my MacBook affect battery life?

Using an external monitor will require more processing power, which may impact your MacBook’s battery life. However, when your MacBook is connected to an AC power source, there should be no significant change in battery life.