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How to enable closed-display mode on a MacBook

Laptops, whether they’re branded MacBooks or generic ones running either Linux or Windows, are powerful. In many cases, they are as powerful as desktop computers and can be used in their place. A laptop has the added benefit of running on a battery and being portable so it’s often a better investment than a desktop (unless you’re a hardcore gamer). As great as a laptop is, it does have a smaller screen and many users tend to use them with an external display. If you prefer to use an external display with your MacBook, and would prefer to use just the external display with the laptop lid closed, you can do so by enabling the closed-display mode.

Enable closed-display mode

Closed-display mode doesn’t have an explicit setting on macOS. Other than it being exclusive to MacBooks, it requires a few conditions to be met for it to work. Once those conditions are met, you can close your MacBook and use just the external display.

There are three conditions that must be met in order to enable closed-display mode.

Connect external keyboard/mouse

If you plan on using your MacBook with the lid closed, you obviously will not be able to use either its keyboard or the trackpad. You will need to use an external keyboard and/or mouse with it. To that end, you need to first connect an external keyboard or mouse to your MacBook. Any type will do; wired or wireless.

Connect power adapter

Unfortunately, you cannot enable closed-display mode with the MacBook running on battery power. This is why you need to connect your power adapter before you can use the MacBook with the lid closed. This is one area where Windows 10 outshines macOS.

Connect external display

Connect the external display and make sure it is detected first. Once the external display is connected, you can close the lid on your MacBook and the display will work. Your MacBook will not enter Sleep mode, however its internal display will turn off. On your desktop, you will only have one display i.e., this will not enable a multi-display set up. This means that when you move your mouse to the edge of the screen, it won’t move to a second display.

Exit closed-display mode

Exiting closed-display mode is pretty easy. If you want to switch to a multiple-display set-up, all you have to do is open the lid on your MacBook. Its display will wake up and it will appear as either the primary or the secondary display. You can of course change with display is the primary one. You can also disconnect the power adapter or the external mouse/keyboard to exit closed-display mode.

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