Video: 27-Inch iMac in Action as External Monitor



Here’s a couple of videos of the new 27-inch iMac in action as an external display. The new iMac is the first that can act as a monitor for another machine, but will only work with devices that output DisplayPort video, like newer MacBooks.

In these videos I’ve hooked my MacBook Pro (13-inch) to the iMac using Belkin’s Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable, which is available from Apple’s retail stores for $29.99.

Previously I tried to hook up the iMac using DVI and HDMI cables (and appropriate adaptors), but it didn’t work.

See the monster iMac in action after the jump.

Thanks Emil. And thanks Dane for fixing the videos.

BTW: Don’t miss our comprehensive review of the humungous new 27-inch iMac.

Here’s how to hook up the iMac an external monitor; you simply the Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable into the back of the iMac, and then into the MacBook. The iMac auto detects the connection and switches into “target display mode.”

Note: the iMac needs to be booted to act as an external display.

Here’s the iMac in action as an external display. As you can see, it’s simply huge. You can have two full-size documents open on the iMac and a third on the MacBook, and there’s still plenty of space on both screens for background windows.

The Command/F2 key combination flips the iMac between target display mode and normal mode. Here’s how it works:

  • Craig

    whats the diffrence between the 27″ imac and a early 2009 24″ imac ? Is it purely an software update that enables the 27″ to act as a display or is it something elce?

  • evanheckert

    Hey Craig, I know it’s been three weeks since you posted that, but to reply to your comment: The 27″ iMac is the only iMac that has a two-way MiniDisplayPort… port. As a result, this mode will not work on any other iMac.

  • Johnforz

    hi, thanks for the info.. very helpful. But do you perchance know of a good method, or a particular KVM switch/product that will allow me to take my mouse/keyboard/wacom tablet with me between computers?

    Also, I assume there is know way to stop the window reformatting/repositioning when I switch the iMac from target mode to normal mode?

    thanks so much in advance!

  • Leo Studer

    do you have any idea whether this is also working with the new iMacs with a thunderbolt port?

    Thanks in advance

  • Paul

     30 dollars for a proprietary cable. Apple hard at work again ;)

  • JC

     Does this work with the new 27″ iMac that was just released? 

  • JC

     Posted below as well – but I’d like to know the same thing.  Would this work with the new 21″ or 27″?

  • Johnforz

    i believe the new iMacs will only work in target mode if the laptop (or other machine you are using) has a thunderbolt port. the new iMacs no longer have a miniDisplay port input. see here:

  • Wtfapple

    This is totally stupid and hilarious.. WTF APPLE engineers…. hello ??? never heard of VGA or DVI…. ?? It’s cheap and work with any computers. And, ooh, the imac needs to be turned on ??? OH MY GOD… then why not simply open the file direcly on the imac,, no need to waste running 2 computers !!!!.. Apple you deceive me a lot… this reminds me the black days of apple back in the end 90s..

  • TreyRust

    I don’t have time to look it up, but from what I remember, you should check out synergy. Its a program that allows the same keyboard/mouse (and inherently, tablet) across multiple PCs

  • George2

    You sound a bit angry.

  • Emelia

    Would this work with a 24″ iMac 2.8ghz Intel2 Duo?

  • clt001

    I have the early 2009 version as well.  Is there some update that can be done to allow these older versions to be our monitor for our laptops?  I really hate having 2 large monitors on my desk and cannot afford a new MAC.  Would love to know if there is an update to the hardware, firmware, anything?  Thanks…

  • bivouacmusic

    The new thunderbolt port is based on displayport technology so I am assuming that to connect another external monitor you would use this port. 

    Heres the question:Since the new 27″ imac has two of these ports, does that mean you can connect up to two external monitors?Has anyone tried?

  • Mat Weller

    I hope this means they’re moving toward making it so that one day you will be able to set your Startup Disk as something like “None (monitor only)” or even just kick a physical switch in the back and then slave it to another Mac. It’s important and helpful for many reasons, but these are mine…

    1) It’s a HUGE waste to throw away a top-functioning flat screen monitor just because the computer is obsolete or not functioning as well as you need. You’re not even supposed to put computer parts in landfills, but the iMac begs you to throw fully functional machines away. I still have an eMac in my basement that’s running strong as another hard drive on my home network and a DVD/streaming movie player over my treadmill and a tangerine iBook that I pull out occasionally because I find it fun to write on and because booting OS9 makes me smile. The idea of throwing away a new iMac with this beautiful display gives me cramps.

    2) Apple’s no longer pricing computers even close to reality for most home users. I like to have one at home so that I can bring home work files if I want to. It used to be true that the quality of a Mac was so far beyond a PC that the extra price had value, but the separation isn’t that far anymore, and the difference between a high-end Dell laptop at $500 and a bottom of the line MacBook at $1000 is hard to swallow. The difference between desktop computers is even greater. I won’t be able to afford another new Mac for home, even my current MacBook was bought used, but I would consider over extending myself for an iMac if I knew that after it was past its prime I could use the monitor for a Mini, and then another Mini after the first became obsolete. It would be especially cool if the monitor conversion setup just bypassed the motherboard so that you could simultaneously turn the hard drive into an external for the new ‘puter you were plugging in.

    I know people think it’s stupid to worry about throwing these away, but when a comparable TV this size costs $300, it’s hard to chuck an iMac knowing it’s about 10 minutes of programming work away from being an awesome bedroom TV or a monitor for a new Mini.

  • Daniel

    Is it possible to set it up to use the resources of the iMac too… somehow wipe the OS of the iMac and use that as an External drive/Back up drive… Kinda make it so your MacBook is your lightweight main computer and the iMac is an powerhouse extension of that computer.
    That way you don’t have to worry about two OS’s with multiple users… and multiple files…

    Just a thought

  • Mike Dahlseide

    Is there a way to do this if the iMac needs a new logic board??