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True Tone on External Displays Doesn't Work With MacBook Pro in Clamshell Mode [Updated]

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Following in the footsteps of the latest iPhone and iPad Pro models, the new MacBook Pro features True Tone technology.


True Tone automatically adjusts the white balance of the MacBook Pro display to match the color temperature of the light around you, which, as Apple says, provides a more natural viewing experience. The feature is similar to Night Shift, but more dynamic, continuously adapting to the surrounding environment.

If you are standing in a dimly lit room with incandescent light bulbs, for example, the display would appear warmer and yellower. If you are standing outside on a cloudy day, the display would appear cooler and bluer.

True Tone on iPad Pro

We've received many questions about how True Tone is enabled on the new MacBook Pro, and we've sought out some answers from Apple.

Apple says the new MacBook Pro has a multi-channel ambient light sensor, next to the FaceTime HD camera, that can assess brightness as well as color temperature, adding that the display should be open to enable that functionality. Apple added that True Tone does not use the FaceTime HD camera for its operation.

Apple says the ambient light sensor in previous-generation MacBook Pro models can only assess brightness, suggesting that True Tone is not a feature that can be enabled on older machines through a future software update.

The information also suggests that True Tone will only work on the LG UltraFine 4K, LG UltraFine 5K, and Thunderbolt Display when the display on a connected MacBook Pro is open, rather than in closed-display aka clamshell mode. Apple did not directly confirm this, though, so we'll be testing to see.

True Tone can help reduce eye strain, so it's a feature worth considering if you purchase the new MacBook Pro. It can be enabled or disabled in System Preferences under Displays, alongside options for Night Shift and auto-brightness.

True Tone can also be enabled on the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and the 2017 model 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Update: As we suspected, True Tone does not work on external displays when the connected MacBook Pro is in clamshell mode.

Eric Slivka contributed to this report.

Article Link: True Tone on External Displays Doesn't Work With MacBook Pro in Clamshell Mode [Updated]
 
Last edited:

Jsameds

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Apr 22, 2008
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True Tone on iPad is something I'd never thought I'd like when I heard about it.

When I bought my iPad, I had forgotten about the feature until about a week later I saw it adjusting the colour temperature, so I quickly scurried to settings and disabled it.

Wow. Never had it looked worse. The blue tint to everything was just so jarring in the evening sun I happened to be sitting in at the time. Needless to say I switched it straight back on and haven't looked back since.
 
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DrJohnnyN

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Jan 27, 2010
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“True Tone can help reduce eye strain, so it's a feature worth considering.”
Better read the article before commenting.

Thanks for the insight. I read the article in its entirety.
This feature won't help Apple sell more units.
 
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avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
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In other words, if you have an LG 5K display or Apple display and you use your MacBook Pro in clamshell mode, no TrueTone for you.
 
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jjhny

macrumors 6502
Sep 16, 2005
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I guess if you are a consumer this is good. Not good if you have to actually have accurate colors (I imagine you can turn it off).

I use this feature on my iPad, but that is just for surfing the web, reading emails, texts, checking the weather, not important stuff.
 
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jabingla2810

macrumors 68020
Oct 15, 2008
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Doesn't work with the lid closed a display off?!?!

Apple have lost it... Bring back Steve Jobs. /s
 
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FSMBP

macrumors 68030
Jan 22, 2009
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I still don't get the full appeal of TrueTone and have turned it off on all devices. I like my colors consistent. However, people say it helps with eye-fatigue. Hmm...
 
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turbineseaplane

macrumors 603
Mar 19, 2008
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I enjoy it on my iPad, but it's not a deal breaker either way honestly.

Nice feature for sure as an additional "thing", but as others have pointed out, it becomes less of a must have on the laptop /desktop side where many of us need to be worried about color accuracy a lot of the time.

You can turn it off of course, but on the Mac I'd be doing that a lot (on/off/on/off), whereas on the iPad where it's casual use, I'm able to never touch the setting and it's just transparent to me - which is much more ideal.
 
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WWPD

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Aug 21, 2015
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I don't know what happened but when I got my iPhone X I thought True Tone made everything look dull and yellow, turning it off made it look too blue and harsh. So, I turned it on and kept it on and it seems that my eyes have adapted because I don't notice it at all.
 
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artfossil

macrumors 65816
Oct 5, 2015
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Bollocks!

We know that one feature is only important if Apple doesn't have it.

Like laptops with touchscreen displays!
It's the Alice in Wonderland effect. (When you can reach the key on the table, you're too big to get through the door; when you can fit through the door, the key is on the table . . . .) That is:

When Apple has a feature in a laptop, it's unimportant and only for coffee-shop sitting by effete hipsters.
When Apple doesn't have a feature in a laptop it's critical to real work by real professionals.
 
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