How to Attach an External Display to an iMac

Overview of the iMac

iMac is the successor of the Macintosh. This desktop computer was designed and built by Apple. The first iMac was released in August 1998. The iMac model put out this 2020 has some outstanding features.

iMac (2020) system information

Apple usually releases different options in regards to the processor and storage space. The maxed-out computer is the iMac Core i9. The screen size has 27 inches, and it’s able of 5K quality (Retina 5K). It belongs to the retina family and it can be found under the ID iMac20.2. The VRAM is either 8GB or 16 GB with a 3.6 GHz Core i9. The RAM is 8GB, and it has a storage of 512 GB SSD. This iMac is the latest released by Apple in August 2020.

The new iMac represents a huge boost over the 2019 model. The reviews throughout the Internet agree on the professional finish of the 2020 iMac.

Who uses iMac professionally?

Many decide to buy an iMac due to their extremely high screen quality, and speed. However, there are other extremely important aspects to consider. The computer runs without lags or viruses. It doesn’t crash or needs lots of maintenance to run at its optimum level. 

While anyone can use an iMac like any other computer, there are some fields that perfectly fit for it. For Graphic Designers, iMac is a match made in heaven. Plenty of media groups are iMac exclusive and many tend to agree on Macs products dominating most jobs in publishing, advertising, design, education, TV, music, and film industry.

Why would you need a second monitor? 

When using two monitors it’s easier to work with multiple programs or tabs at the same time. Sharing data between applications can be smooth. Another possible use is to edit, view, or manage media, while it’s being played on another screen you can still do other jobs.

What display/monitors will best attach to the iMac?

Depending on the iMac model, you can connect one or more displays to your device. To find out how many external screens your iMac can support, head to the technical specifications of the computer.

First, Select the Apple Menu and choose About this Mac. Click the Support Tab and then select Specifications. On the webpage that will pop up, the quantity of displays supported by your iMac is under the Video Support or Graphics tab.

Best Mac compatible displays in 2020

  • HP Pavilion 27 Quantum Dot Display: This monitor is a great choice for home or a reduced size office.
  • Phillips LCD Monitor 245E1S: The feature of this monitor is its compact size which makes it perfect for a tight working space. 
  • BenQ DesignVue PD2720U: This monitor offers a great price for its high quality befitting of professional graphic design work.
  • Acer H277HK: This 4k monitor is a great option for those with a tight budget.
  • AOC 22B22H: It’s the cheapest of the bunch, with a lot of great features.
  • Philips Brilliance 22V22h (offers a large screen with an amazing quality)

How to attach a display to the iMac

Step by Step with AirPlay/Apple TV

  1. Connect the iMac to the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV or AirPlay.
  2. Click the Menu bar or go to Apple menu > System preferences > Displays.
  3. Choose Show mirroring options in the Menu bar.
  4. Select the Apple TV/ AirPlay 
  5. Use the same password as in your iMac if requested.

Step by Step with external display

  1. Select the right cable/adapter depending on the external monitor.
  2. Connect the cable/adapter to the iMac using any of the Thunderbolt or Display ports. 
  3. Connect the display using the appropriate cable for the monitor mode (HDMI, DVI, VGA)

Screen view

There are a few ways to connect your iMac to another display or displays, as well as a few ways to view your screen after you have succeeded. Head to display options to choose the most suitable for your needs.

Extend your desktop

  1. Select Apple Menu > System Preferences and choose Displays.
  2. Choose the Arrangement Tab.
  3. Next, you must arrange the screen to match whatever setup is there at your desk. While the display is being moved, a red border will be visible.
  4. In order to make another display as the primary, you must drag the menu back to the other screen. The computer will select it as primary whatever screen has desktop icons and apps.

Mirror the screen

  1. The external screen must be turned on and connected to the iMac
  2. Select the Apple Menu > System preferences.
  3. Click on Displays > Arrangement Tab.
  4. Select the Mirror Display checkbox.

Use AirPlay

Apple TV makes the whole process of having an extra screen incredibly easy. If you own an Apple TV, you can use it as a separate display for the iMac. With Apple TV you can still extend or mirror your screen.

Ports used to connect the external display (an adapter might be needed)

  • Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) 4 ports
  • HDMI

What do you need

Different monitors require different cables to connect on your iMac when using the Thunderbolt 3 port:

  1. For the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) display, use the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) cable
  2. For a USB-C display, you need the USB-C (USB 3.1) cable
  3. The Thunderbolt 2 display needs the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  4. Any HDMI display or HDTV must have a USB-C to HDMI adapter or a USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter.
  5. For VGA projectors or displays, a USB-C VGA Multiport adapter will be needed.
  6. DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort display require a USB-C to DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort adapter
  7. The DVI displays or projectors use an ASB-C to DVI adapter.
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