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umbilical

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 3, 2008
1,320
358
FL, USA
Talking about ergonomics:

I work in a MBP 15 inch and that is! I struggle due the small space to work, I need more room... so I'm thinking buy the new MBP 14 inch M2 plus a 27 or 32 Monitor.

Here's the thing, I love the keyboard and trackpad that comes with the MBP, I got very used to it to the keyboard on the top and the trackpad on the bottom, I love so fast and quick of that way.

So! what if I put the 27 or 32 on the top and the MBP on the bottom and that is! so I don't need to buy an external keyboard, trackpad or mouse and dealing with an external keyboard on the left and the trackpad on the right or bottom.

Here's a pic to reference:
Somebody work of that way? (only with a monitor + mbp)

Is uncomfortable of that way? the monitor is too high? you constantly moves a lot the neck (up to down).

Thoughts?
 

smirking

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,787
3,773
Silicon Valley
It's always kinda tough to get ergonomics right when the keyboard and the screen are joined together because ideally you need a lot more separation between the two. If you use the external screen as the main screen and your laptop as your second display, you can keep good posture and not have to put your neck in stressful positions too often.

You don't need to have perfect posture all the time. Nobody does that anyway. What you need is to have good posture most of the time so even a setup like this can work depending on how you use it. In this photo, the laptop should be placed maybe about 4 inches lower so that his elbows can comfortably rest at his side at almost a 90 degree angle. Do that and his neck angle with the external monitor should naturally adjust and he'd have pretty decent posture.
 

FriendlyMackle

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2011
905
788
NYC
It's always kinda tough to get ergonomics right when the keyboard and the screen are joined together because ideally you need a lot more separation between the two. If you use the external screen as the main screen and your laptop as your second display, you can keep good posture and not have to put your neck in stressful positions too often.

You don't need to have perfect posture all the time. Nobody does that anyway. What you need is to have good posture most of the time so even a setup like this can work depending on how you use it. In this photo, the laptop should be placed maybe about 4 inches lower so that his elbows can comfortably rest at his side at almost a 90 degree angle. Do that and his neck angle with the external monitor should naturally adjust and he'd have pretty decent posture.
Based on my own experience with the ergonomics of keyboard placement, I agree that the photo depicts a very bad angle for the user’s wrists. I actually developed carpal tunnel injuries from exactly this type of placement in just one year! And that was back when I was young (under 30). That experience brought me an entirely new awareness of the importance of ergonomic placement of keyboard, touchpad/mouse, and monitor.

On that note, I think that the laptop screen, whether at the depicted level or lower (where the keyboard should really be placed), is too low and definitely will cause undue and repeated stress on the neck.

To the original poster: I think that you should place the large monitor at the proper height for you when seated, with an external keyboard and touchpad at the appropriate height for your arms, so that your elbows are at slightly less than a 90 degree angle (downward!).

This will ensure the health of your wrists and arms. A slight misalignment sounds innocuous, but I assure you it is not.

It took me a full year of physical therapy, and then daily exercises (for a few years) to strengthen and repair my wrists after the damage done by just one year of an improperly placed keyboard/desk height.

And, even after the successful resolution of the problem, it was still several more years before I routinely no longer had pain and numbness in one or both hands/wrists from that one small damage.

As to the monitor placement, I believe the key is that you do not have to strain you neck or curve your back to look downward in general. Our bodies are sensitive and repetititive stress injuries can be the result of disregarding them.

It will cost you more to have an external keyboard and touchpad—but it will be worth it.
Also, the external Apple touchpad is excellent. I’ve been using one since they first hit the market.
 

chrismu

macrumors member
Dec 5, 2021
72
78
I work that way, and I like it! I don’t have more space, so this was the best that I could do, also less stuff on my desk. But I have to say, I rarely use the Macbook Screen in that configuration.
 
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Qwaf

macrumors regular
Sep 11, 2010
128
54
I said this in the other thread about clamshell mode, but I personally find this one of the worst ways of using a laptop on a desk. I of course see plenty of people doing it, but it's bad for my neck and back, and just overall body. Anything tempting me to keep looking down far below my eye line if i was looking straight ahead isn't good.

I do also think using the laptop keyboard and trackpad for long periods of time in this setup isn't great for your wrists and hands, but it's less of a concern for me.

If I was just doing it for a few hours, or even a day or two, fine - but any sort of long term setup (at work in an office or at home in an office), I'll never be setup like this.
 
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JPack

macrumors G5
Mar 27, 2017
12,897
24,438
Many people work this way. Just make sure you get a good monitor with a decent height adjustable stand.

When you have a large 32-inch or larger display, that monitor becomes your primary and you naturally work from there. You won’t want to use the notebook LCD. The 15-inch becomes a secondary and you rarely look at it, maybe just as an Outlook window to keep an eye on the inbox.
 
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Arctic Moose

macrumors 68000
Jun 22, 2017
1,576
2,076
Gothenburg, Sweden
It should be fine if you do two things:

  • Make sure the keyboard is at the correct height. Adjust the desk so that this is the case, and then get a wrist pad that is the same height as the bottom case of the laptop so that you do not have your wrists tilted up.
  • Leave the laptop screen off! If you are at least average height your monitor should probably be about a 14” screen off the desk anyhow, possibly a little lower. If so, you can just tilt the 14” screen slightly forward since you won’t be using it anyhow.
 
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NZMike

macrumors newbie
Jan 22, 2023
6
4
Auckland, New Zealand
I have been working like this since about 2010, except that I have a mouse on my right - see attachment.
Currently have an 5k LG on top and 16" M1 Max below. Both running at native resolution 3456x2234 and 5120x2880 and using workspaces with about 10 screens on the laptop and 5 on the monitor.
Mainly work on the upper screen with CAD or large spreadsheets. Lower screen for email, reference pdfs and Finder + WhatsApp etc. Typically transfer things I am working on to the upper screen.
Ergonomically have my chair quite high so the keyboard is at the correct height. If I look straight ahead my eyes are in line with the upper screen.
 

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umbilical

macrumors 65816
Original poster
May 3, 2008
1,320
358
FL, USA
I have been working like this since about 2010, except that I have a mouse on my right - see attachment.
Currently have an 5k LG on top and 16" M1 Max below. Both running at native resolution 3456x2234 and 5120x2880 and using workspaces with about 10 screens on the laptop and 5 on the monitor.
Mainly work on the upper screen with CAD or large spreadsheets. Lower screen for email, reference pdfs and Finder + WhatsApp etc. Typically transfer things I am working on to the upper screen.
Ergonomically have my chair quite high so the keyboard is at the correct height. If I look straight ahead my eyes are in line with the upper screen.
You don't feel the monitor is too far from you? that is one my concerns about a setup like that, I like have the monitor close to me, like emerge in, if it's too far I feel a little lost, I don't know how explain...

Also in that case due is the 16 inch, the monitor should stay even more high than the 14 (lower) so that low helps to the monitor don't goes to high.
 

NZMike

macrumors newbie
Jan 22, 2023
6
4
Auckland, New Zealand
I mainly work on the upper screen which is about 500 mm or 20" away from my face and made sure my glasses are correct for that distance. I do lean forward if I am trying to distinguish lines close together or small (< 5 point) text but at that distance I can see the whole screen. If I lean in I can't see the screen to the sides so well.
My back and neck are straight when I am looking at the upper screen so I have no problems working for long periods despite being nearly 70. Did have a neck problem when the relative heights (screen & keyboard) were too low. My elbow is at about 90º when on the keyboard.
Do not turn my head much which I think is also good at avoiding neck strain.
The lower screen is mainly used for reference and so pdf drawings look good (very sharp) on the wonderful 16" screen - which is significantly better than the 2018 15" MBP and 2015 15" MB predecessors.
Again I simply drag the document from the lower screen if I want to work on it. That works well as I don't run "fullscreen" so I simply click on the top of the pdf or whatever and flick it onto the upper screen (on top or on another screen) and then drop it back on the lower screen when I have finished.
My 13" M1 MBA does not work as well for this arrangement as it is much smaller and I lose the mouse pointer in going from one screen to the other as the sizes are quite a bit different especially in number of pixels width as that dictates where the mouse pointer goes in moving from one screen to the other with this up - down arrangement.
Other minor is the 16" screen is finer at about 240 ppi vs 210 (?) ppl on the 27" LG so the text is smaller, but again I run like that to get a cleaner pdf drawing and to better match the two display widths.
To get the resolutions I use the "Display Menu" app. Also use both the track pad and mouse and keyboard all together.
When I go on site (often in another country) the 16" has all my files and I am absolutely used to the keyboard, trackpad and mouse response, so can be productive from when I open the laptop.
Suspect that if I used a physically bigger screen (30 or 34") it would also not work as well. Severely tempted to get the Apple 6k screen however.
Bit of a long winded reply but I have been tweaking this workflow for years and it now works very well for me.
 

EzisAA

macrumors regular
Jan 26, 2017
110
66
Riga, Latvia
I placed LG 4K 23,7 inch Thunderbolt 3 Monitor in left side.
I use it to work in FCPX or for watching TV shows, but MacBook Pro 13 screen for Safari, Chrome, Whatsapp, Finder, Music, Ms Office etc.

I dont feel like i need external keyboard or trackpad. Maybe another LG Monitor in right side for monitorig some backgraud tasks like upload video, Apple Compressor, video upscale progress in Topaz Video Enhance AI
IMG_6097.jpg
 
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FreakinEurekan

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,990
2,966
I’ve done it… the MacBook display was used very, very little. Then I ended up moving the MacBook back a bit, using an external keyboard/mouse, and lowered the display so that it covered the MacBook display (at that point, the MacBook was open only to give me access to Touch ID).

Finally I upgraded to M1 mini and a Touch ID keyboard, so the MacBook is now strictly for use away from my desk. Much happier with that arrangement; all of the issues I had previously were compromises.
 
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