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View Full Version : Is there a simple way to use only an external display?




pickaxe
Jul 3, 2013, 04:35 PM
After a lot of Googling it seems there is no native way to disable the MBA's display and make an external attached display primary (why?)

I've seen some hacky solutions around, but they don't seem to work on my 2013 MBA. I suspect this is because sleeping the display on this unit also sleeps the OS (again, why?)

So any simple way to do this?



Sebct
Jul 3, 2013, 04:39 PM
can't you just turn the brightness down?

are you using external keyboard/mouse?

kohlson
Jul 3, 2013, 04:45 PM
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht3131

jmoore5196
Jul 3, 2013, 04:53 PM
Clamshell mode is about as simple as it gets. As I type this post, my 11" MBA is closed and tucked into a TwelveSouth BookArc.

pickaxe
Jul 3, 2013, 05:03 PM
Clamshell is not a good solution because I like the keyboard and trackpad, because I don't want to clutter my work desk with external input devices and because of heat concerns.

Turning off the backlight is not a good solution because I'm still in dual display mode - with screen boundaries and other crap like that.

jmoore5196
Jul 3, 2013, 05:10 PM
So let me see if I understand this ... you want to use the keyboard and trackpad, but not the display which is something like three inches away?

While I admire your unwillingness to compromise, wireless keyboards and trackpads are very handy things to have around.

NewbieCanada
Jul 3, 2013, 05:20 PM
Although not ideal, I think clamshell with an external Apple keyboard and Magic Trackpad is as close as you can get to what you want.

flynz4
Jul 3, 2013, 05:23 PM
Clamshell mode is about as simple as it gets. As I type this post, my 11" MBA is closed and tucked into a TwelveSouth BookArc.

At work I use my MBA in clamshell with a 27" ACD. At home, I use the same MBA with my 27" ATD. It works perfectly with both. For each desk setup... I have a BT Kbd, BT Magic Trackpad and a BT Magic Mouse. Works perfectly.

I get the full 2560X1440 on both desks.

/Jim

tann
Jul 3, 2013, 05:41 PM
So let me see if I understand this ... you want to use the keyboard and trackpad, but not the display which is something like three inches away?

While I admire your unwillingness to compromise, wireless keyboards and trackpads are very handy things to have around.

I think it's fine to want to work on an external display but not have the computer in clamshell mode.

You could do this in pre-Lion OS X versions! It's one thing I didn't like they took away.

pickaxe
Jul 3, 2013, 05:53 PM
So let me see if I understand this ... you want to use the keyboard and trackpad, but not the display which is something like three inches away?

Umm, yes? I don't want to buy a wireless keyboard/trackpad when I already have perfectly good ones attached to my MacBook. As for not wanting to use the internal display - obviously it's because of the size and resolution. I've been using Windows laptops in "half-open lid, screen off" mode for years and it's very usable.

cmclaughlan
Jul 3, 2013, 05:59 PM
With my MBA 13 inch 2013 closed I plug in my 30 inch display to the Display Port and USB. Click the keyboard or mouse that are attached to the display and the Mac wakes, never switches on the external display and the external monitor is the primary display.

I've done this forever with all my Mac laptops without any problems, ever.

thelookingglass
Jul 3, 2013, 09:31 PM
With my MBA 13 inch 2013 closed I plug in my 30 inch display to the Display Port and USB. Click the keyboard or mouse that are attached to the display and the Mac wakes, never switches on the external display and the external monitor is the primary display.

I've done this forever with all my Mac laptops without any problems, ever.

That's not what the OP wants. He wants the internal display to turn off without having to close the lid.

OP, I don't think there's a non-wacky solution. Sorry.

jmoore5196
Jul 3, 2013, 09:53 PM
Parsimony may have served you well as a Windows user, but it's not a particularly Mac-friendly quality. Elegant solutions typically come with a price tag attached; solutions that "just work" command something of a premium.

Pakaku
Jul 3, 2013, 10:09 PM
Something like... plugging in the external screen, opening up System Prefs, selecting Displays, choosing Arrangement, dragging that little white bar over to the external screen, and turning off the brightness of the internal screen. That treats the external screen as the primary screen, although the internal screen won't be disabled. Will that not work for you?

luisito
Jul 3, 2013, 11:01 PM
Turning off the backlight is not a good solution because I'm still in dual display mode - with screen boundaries and other crap like that.

If you are working with dual screens, why is it important to have your main display on the external display? You are looking at both screens anyways, right?

Ollifi
Jul 4, 2013, 02:00 AM
Is it really true that you cannot shutdown MBA's screen while external screen is plugged without closing the lid? In Windows it's terribly easy, just Win+P.

Ollifi
Jul 4, 2013, 08:30 AM
Is it really true that you cannot shutdown MBA's screen while external screen is plugged without closing the lid? In Windows it's terribly easy, just Win+P.

bump

flynz4
Jul 4, 2013, 12:07 PM
bump

You asked a question that has already been answered... and then you bumped. it. No... it does not work without any non-whacky solutions (paraphrasing the best answer).

/Jim

MBHockey
Jul 4, 2013, 01:01 PM
OP, you can do this with SwitchResX.

I do what you want when I'm streaming HD movies through a flash site (netflix, showtime, HBO, hulu, etc.) from my computer but want to watch it on the big external display and don't want to melt my MBA with the lid closed.

Although I do use an external keyboard and mouse, SwitchResX allows me to disable my MBA screen when it is connected to an external display and not in clamshell mode.

http://www.madrau.com/indexSRX4.html

Ollifi
Jul 4, 2013, 01:23 PM
MBHockey, is there free alternative to that program?

flynz4, could you link me to the solution?

EDIT: Does the http://www.cultofmac.com/176329/turn-off-internal-lcd-display-of-your-macbook-air-os-x-tips/ tip1 work for latest Macos?

MBHockey
Jul 4, 2013, 01:30 PM
It's shareware; it asks you nicely to donate/purchase it but you can use it forever without paying.

Ollifi
Jul 4, 2013, 01:31 PM
It's shareware; it asks you nicely to donate/purchase it but you can use it forever without paying.

ok, thanks for details.

From FAQ:
"When a display is disabled by SwitchResX, the system continues to power it on. There's no way to disable this power from the display, so the backlight will be still turned on, most of the times. SwitchResX will try to turn the brightness to minimal for the displays that include this function, but some displays will still show a powered on background."
So it will actually just dim the screen, not turn off :(

I cannot understand why it is so hard in Mac. In Windows, it is so simple.

blesscheese
Jul 4, 2013, 01:36 PM
I had the same issue...the MBA keyboard is simply better than any exterrnal keyboard (I think the palmrest helps!). Here is my solution:

I do everything that you do to get the MBA working in clamshell mode.

Then (this is the important bit) I *open* the lid of the MBA, and the MBA display is off, whilst the external display is still on. I believe you have to be plugged into the mains for this to work.

This lets me use the MBA keyboard and trackpad. The only issue is, you may have to raise your external display to see it over the MBA display.

Cheers!

Ollifi
Jul 4, 2013, 01:39 PM
I had the same issue...the MBA keyboard is simply better than any exterrnal keyboard (I think the palmrest helps!). Here is my solution:

I do everything that you do to get the MBA working in clamshell mode.

Then (this is the important bit) I *open* the lid of the MBA, and the MBA display is off, whilst the external display is still on. I believe you have to be plugged into the mains for this to work.

This lets me use the MBA keyboard and trackpad. The only issue is, you may have to raise your external display to see it over the MBA display.

Cheers!
That's quite strange.

From Apple support:
OS X Lion and later

If you open the lid of your supported Mac notebook computer while in closed clamshell mode, the display will flicker to a blue screen after a few moments then both displays will become active. Close the lid to return to closed clamshell mode.
but
Mac OS X v10.6.8 and earlier

If you open the lid of your supported Mac notebook computer while in closed clamshell mode it may appear to have no video. This is expected behavior. When your computer is in closed clamshell mode the built-in display is disabled and all video memory is allocated to the external display for best performance.

Are you using Mac OS X v10.6.8 or earlier ?

blesscheese
Jul 5, 2013, 02:23 PM
Are you using Mac OS X v10.6.8 or earlier ?

Yes, using OS X 10.6.8...

It never would have occurred to me that they would have changed that behavior. Oh well, for those on 10.7 & 10.8--> it's not a bug, it's a feature!

Stetrain
Jul 5, 2013, 03:09 PM
Turning off the backlight is not a good solution because I'm still in dual display mode - with screen boundaries and other crap like that.

How about with display mirroring turned on?

Ronnoco
Aug 13, 2013, 09:12 PM
How about with display mirroring turned on?

I know this is an old thread, but I use my mid 2010 15" MBP with a 27" ACD. Because I convert a lot of video, my MBP REALLY heats up. It made me a bit nervous in clamshell mode so I did some reading and found if I use a small (refrigerator type) magnet just over the left edge in about the middle with the lid open, it turns the display off, yet the keyboard and trackpad are fully functional with the 27" ACD. I use this all the time (and have for the better part of three years)... Works great. Haven't tried this with My 2013 MBP yet.

zipur
Aug 13, 2013, 10:51 PM
Umm, yes? I don't want to buy a wireless keyboard/trackpad when I already have perfectly good ones attached to my MacBook. As for not wanting to use the internal display - obviously it's because of the size and resolution. I've been using Windows laptops in "half-open lid, screen off" mode for years and it's very usable.

Ah but you miss the advantage of a wireless remote keyboard & mouse. One major point people overlook is that it extends the life of your MBA. Less keyboard and mouse use. Where if you mark up a remote keyboard just change it out. Plus there is the spill factor, with you MBA in the ARC if you spill a drink you are a little safer. Ergonomics with a remote keyboard you can site anywhere any way you want.

Boyd01
Aug 14, 2013, 01:38 PM
Something like... plugging in the external screen, opening up System Prefs, selecting Displays, choosing Arrangement, dragging that little white bar over to the external screen, and turning off the brightness of the internal screen.

That's exactly what I have been doing at home for the past two years, using a very old Apple Cinema Display at 1920x1200. One minor nitpick is that the internal screen always seems to revert to full brightness when I restart the MBA, but that's not a big deal.

I have tried clamshell mode and the MBA fans kick into high very quickly. With the computer open, that almost never happens unless I am rendering video or doing an extended recording in Logic Pro.

Pakaku
Aug 14, 2013, 11:39 PM
I have tried clamshell mode and the MBA fans kick into high very quickly. With the computer open, that almost never happens unless I am rendering video or doing an extended recording in Logic Pro.

I'd guess that's because closing the laptop blocks airflow, and the fans have to speed up to compensate for it?

Boyd01
Aug 15, 2013, 09:10 AM
That's what I assumed...

DisplacedMic
Aug 15, 2013, 10:34 AM
Clamshell mode is about as simple as it gets. As I type this post, my 11" MBA is closed and tucked into a TwelveSouth BookArc.

not to threadjack but what do you guys think of the arcbook? i have on as well and i really like it, but i'm not convinced it saves a tremendous amount of space - especially when plugged into a TBD. the thunderbolt cable and power cable stick out, and are under quite a bit of strain when using the tiny cable management hole.

that being said, if anything this is Apple's "fault" as the cables on the TBD are a bit bizarre...

i will say this - the arcbook certainly looks fantastic and i imagine the airflow is better - but i just don't know that i buy the space-saving claims. one other advantage that i just remembered is having it up off the desk likes that dramatically reduces spill risks....

OP - as others have said i think you're SOL.... someone mentioned turning the brightness all the way down - that's a great idea!

otherwise, you're going to need an external KB and mouse. I bought the wireless keyboard, apple trackpad and apple battery charger.

all total around $150. expensive, but it's awesome. i LOVE the magic trackpad.

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I'd guess that's because closing the laptop blocks airflow, and the fans have to speed up to compensate for it?

that shouldn't happen - are your vents nice and clear? my mba (2013) doesn't get any warmer in clamshell mode than open.

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That's not what the OP wants. He wants the internal display to turn off without having to close the lid.

OP, I don't think there's a non-wacky solution. Sorry.

turning the brightness all the way down isn't that wacky...
takes maybe 3 seconds and if that's too long i imagine he could make a macro

macfacts
Aug 15, 2013, 10:00 PM
Turning off the backlight is not a good solution because I'm still in dual display mode - with screen boundaries and other crap like that.

Turn on mirroring mode instead of extending the desktop.

Ronnoco
Aug 15, 2013, 10:29 PM
Turn on mirroring mode instead of extending the desktop.

this ^^

Boyd01
Aug 16, 2013, 07:42 AM
I think that will limit you to the native resolution of the built-in display, won't it? Probably not a good solution for a large external screen...