Using iMac as Display for Mac mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jaminor, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. jaminor macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2012
    This is my first post.

    BACKGROUND: I want to use my iMac 2.93 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (2009 model) as the display for the Mac mini 2.3 GHz 2012 model I am planning to purchase. My iMac has 4 USB 2.0 ports, 1 Firewire 800 port and 1 Mini Display port. I use the Firewire 800 port for my external 1 TB hard drive and want to dedicate the Firewire 800 port for the external hard drive. The Mac mini has 1 Firewire 800 port, 1 HDMI port, 1 Thunderbolt port and 4 USB 3.0 ports.

    QUESTION: Can I use my iMac as the display for the Mac mini? If yes, what cable do I need? Does anyone have experience with doing this, and, if so, how has it worked? Are some cables for this setup better then others, and what is the best one to purchase?

    Thanks for your responses . . .

  2. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    This should work, though I don't have these machines to verify. You will want to connect the Mini to the iMac using a Mini Displayport cable (not a Thunderbolt cable). They have the same connectors, but due to the iMac not supporting Thunderbolt, I believe it requires the use of the MDP cable. I'd look at Amazon or Monoprice for one of these (just check the reviews on Amazon to find a quality cable.)

    Also, HDMI only supports up to 1080p resolution (sans the new 4k tech), so you really don't want to use any HDMI to MDP cables as you'll not get the 2560/1440 resolution that the iMac can support.
  3. jaminor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2012
    Is this what I need? A Mini DisplayPort (male) to HDMI Adapter Cable (male)?
  4. TRAV9614 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2012
    No you just need a simple mini display port cable. MDP(male) to MDP(male).
  5. jaminor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2012
    I don't think the mini Display Port (male) to mini Display Port (male) will work. The iMac has a mini Display Port but the new Mac mini does not. I've looked at the ports for the new Mac mini - no mini Display Port on the one I will be purchasing.
  6. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502


    Oct 7, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Thunderbolt is backwards compatible with display port, you are going to want to put the imac into target display mode to use it with the mini.
  7. jaminor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2012
    After further search I found the following information . . .

    Can I connect a Mini DisplayPort monitor or monitor using a Mini DisplayPort adapter to a Thunderbolt port on my Thunderbolt-equipped Mac?

    Yes. A Mini DisplayPort display or a display connecting with a Mini DisplayPort to VGA, DVI, or HDMI adapter will work just like it was connecting to a Mini DisplayPort connector when plugging in directly to the Thunderbolt connector on your Apple computer. Click here for more information on Mini DisplayPort connections and adapters.

    So I gather that the solution is to use a Mini DisplayPort connector to Mini DisplayPort connector from my iMac Display Port to my mac Mini Thunderbolt port. Is this correct?
  8. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    Won't the iMac have to be booted in order to use it as a display?
  9. jaminor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2012
    Thanks for your help. I know what to do now.

    Thanks again,

  10. colinwil macrumors regular

    Nov 15, 2010
    Reading, UK
    No - you can toggle the iMac's display between the iMac and the Mac Mini by pressing cmd-F2. No rebooting required.
  11. colinwil macrumors regular

    Nov 15, 2010
    Reading, UK
    Yes - that's correct. It won't work the other way round (MDP mini to thunderbolt iMac), but Thunderbolt mini to MDP iMac will work fine with an MDP to MDP lead.
  12. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    I didn't say the iMac would have to be rebooted.
    I said booted; as in the iMac would have to be on and running OS X. You can't turn on just the monitor portion of the iMac.

    I see situations where this could be useful. But if you really just want the iMac for its screen, then it seems much more effective to sell the iMac and buy a display.
  13. chrise2 macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2012
    I had the 2010 iMac and you could only use it as a display on the 27" model. The 21.5" model I had would not support this.
  14. leandrogp13 macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2013

    Hi Jim, have you done it already? did any of this options worked? I want to do exactly the same thing and I was wondering if you made it.

    Thanks in advance,

  15. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    It will work with any 27" iMac, or with mid-2011 and newer 21.5" iMacs. can't be done with the plastic (white) iMacs. Details here:
  16. skeetr macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2014
    iMac 2007 version display for mac mini

    It looks like I'm close.
    I have an iMac 2007 version that has miniDVI for the display port.
    and a 2 year old Mac mini with thunderbolt or HDMI out.

    is there such a connector as a miniDVI male to Mini DisplayPort male?
    would this work?

    would this old imac support that?

    Many thanks folks
  17. wlossw macrumors 65816


    May 9, 2012
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  18. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    No. The only Macs that support Target Display mode are the 27" iMacs from 2009 - Today and the 21" iMacs from 2011 - today. 2007's could not due target displaymode.

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