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Using the MacBook with the screen closed and an external monitor in clamshell mode

Did you know that you can use your MacBook (Air / Pro) with the screen closed, connected to an external monitor? Called mode clamshell or closed screen mode, this way of handling the Mac is relatively little known among Ma notebook owners, whatever model it may be. The most interesting of the way clamshell the possibility to work with the same efficiency with a monitor even bigger than the Mac's screen without having to keep it open for those who don't want to be with two screens staring at you all the time, this.

Before following the tutorial to use your Mac in closed screen mode, you need to make sure you have the following items to make the connection:

  • An AC power adapter;
  • An external keyboard and mouse / trackpad, with USB or wireless connection;
  • A USB-C to USB adapter, if you are using a USB mouse or keyboard with a MacBook (2015 and later) or MacBook Pro (2016 and later);
  • An external display or projector.

Everything properly separated? So come on!

How to activate closed screen mode

BookArc for MacBooks, by Twelve South

Make sure your Mac is connected to a power source before starting and follow the steps below to connect your USB mouse / keyboard to your Mac:

  1. Connect the USB mouse / keyboard to the MacBook.
  2. With the Mac turned on and the screen open, plug it into the appropriate port on the external monitor and then turn it on.
  3. After the Mac's desktop is displayed on the external monitor, close the computer cover.

If you are trying to connect with a wireless mouse and keyboard, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on (Bluetooth System Preferences, or the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar).
  2. Pair your wireless mouse and keyboard with your Mac. When the device is paired, it appears in the list of devices.
  3. In the Bluetooth settings, click "Advanced" and check that the "Allow Bluetooth devices to interrupt this computer's sleep" checkbox is selected.
  4. With the Mac turned on and the screen open, plug it into the appropriate port on the external monitor and then turn it on.
  5. After the Mac's desktop is displayed on the external monitor, close the computer cover.

When closing the cover of the MacBook, it is possible that the Mac will show some reaction in OS X Lion 10.7 or later, the display will show a blue screen and then show the Table (Desktop). If the external monitor does not recognize the notebook, try to connect it while the computer is at rest or turned off, then connect it and wake up / start up the Mac.

You can now use your Mac via the external monitor in closed-screen mode. ?

Can I open the cover while the Mac is in closed screen mode?

If you open the MacBook cover while it is in closed screen mode, two things can happen and they vary depending on the Mac's operating system:

  • OS X Lion 10.7 and later: a blue screen will flash and, after a few seconds / minutes, both screens will be active. Close the cover to return to closed screen mode.
  • OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 or earlier: it may seem that the Mac is turned off, since when the computer is in closed screen mode, the integrated screen is disabled and all video memory is allocated to the external screen. To reactivate the built-in screen, put your Mac to sleep and then activate it or use the ?Detect Monitors? button (Monitors System Preferences Detect Monitors).

How to schedule your Mac to wake up and rest

In addition to waking the Mac in closed-screen mode using the connected mouse or keyboard, it is also possible to schedule the exact times for the Mac to start / sleep according to use. This is an even more practical way to ensure that your Mac is not connected at all times and that everything is in order by the time you connect. To schedule Mac times, follow these steps:

  1. Open System Preferences and select the ?Energy Saver? option;
  2. Click on "Schedule" in the lower right corner of the window;
  3. Check the "Start up or wake up" and "Sleep" checkboxes to schedule the days and times you want the Mac to start / disable. Then click "OK".

How to disconnect the Mac from the screen after use

BookArc for MacBooks, by Twelve South

Apple recommends putting your Mac to sleep (click on the apple in the menu bar and choose the "Sleep" option) before disconnecting your Mac from the external monitor. Other than that, some DVI and Mini DisplayPort screens (including Apple's 24 and 27 inch LED Cinema Displays) can be disconnected without the computer being in sleep mode if you are unsure of your external monitor model, put it on at rest just to be sure.

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It?s good to remember that running closed screen mode on a Mac for a long time reduces its ability to dissipate heat through the rear ventilation ports and keyboard, which could theoretically cause overheating. For this, there are some products on the market that allow you to support it vertically, like the BookArc line from TwelveSouth.

Did this tutorial help you? We hope so! If you have any questions about any feature of macOS or another Apple device, check out if we can help you with our tutorial section. ?