Use your iMac as a monitor: How to set up a Mac on Mac, PC on Mac, or iPad on Mac

Want to find a way to use your iMac as a monitor? While Apple's target display mode is limited to 2009-2014 iMacs, thankfully there are a few other options for using that beautiful big screen on your iMac as a monitor.

Target Display Mode is an Apple solution that allows you to use your iMac as a monitor with another Mac in a wired configuration. This was a very popular feature for years, but when Apple released the Retina iMac in late 2014, support was dropped.

The good news is that even if you don't have an 8-year old+ iMac , which supports the target display mode, you can still use your iMac as a monitor with many different options. Let's explore your 5 options…

Using an iMac as a monitor: 5 solutions


  • Luna Display or Duet Display
  • Use your iMac as a monitor with Sidecar
  • AirPlay to Mac
  • Connect iMac to external monitor
  • Target display mode< /li>

Luna Display or Duo Display

To get the same features that target mode offers displays from Mac to Mac (and even PC to Mac and iPad to Mac), Luna Display and Duet Display are two of the best options.

Luna Display requires a $119 Luna Display USB-C dongle, but does not require a subscription.

The Duet Display doesn't require any hardware, but costs $25/year for the Duet Air (to get Mac for Mac, PC for Mac, and iPad for Mac support). One benefit here is that Duet Display offers a free trial.

We've used both here at 9to5Mac and found them to be great products that are updated regularly.

Use iMac as Monitor with Sidecar

This of course does not offer Mac support for Mac , but if you want to use your iMac as a monitor with your iPad, Sidecar is a great free solution. It works both wired and wireless.

  • On macOS Monterey or Ventura, click Control Center (two pill icon) in the menu bar > Screen mirroring. strong> > select your iPad.
    • Once connected, under System Preferences/Preferences, you can select a Mac or iPad as your primary display

Sidecar is built into Mac and iPad starting with macOS Catalina and iPadOS 13. If you haven't tried Sidecar yet, check out our full guide here:

  • macOS: How to turn your iPad into a second display with Sidecar

AirPlay for Mac

This feature doesn't work if you want to expand your iMac or iPad desktop space, but you can mirror your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch directly to your iMac or any other compatible Mac.

< p>However, this requires a newer Mac. Learn more in our full guide:

How to play AirPlay content on your Mac using macOS Monterey absolute; clip: rect(1px, 1px, 1px, 1px);” title=”“How to play AirPlay content on your Mac using macOS Monterey” — 9to5Mac” src=” to -mac-with-macos-monterey/embed/#?secret=7Bg63ynQRW#?secret=IegeWLjIdg” data-secret=”IegeWLjIdg” width=”600″ height=”338″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight =”0″ scrolling=”no”>

Pairing iMac with external monitor

This may seem obvious, but there is another option – pair iMac with external monitor. monitor and choose which one will be the main and which one will be the secondary.

For a deeper look at some of the best monitors on the market, check out our guides:

    < li>Best USB-C monitors for Mac
  • Best Thunderbolt monitors for Mac
  • < /ul>

    And one available 32″ 4K monitor that matches the M1 iMac aesthetic is Samsung&#8217 ;s M8 Smart Monitor.

    Target Display Mode

    < p>If you have an older iMac, you can use the target display mode, but it must also be running macOS Catalina or earlier – the same for the secondary Mac. Here's what you need to use your iMac as a monitor with the original solution.

    Apple's 2011-Mid 2014 iMac Requirements:

    • An iMac must be running macOS High Sierra or earlier to use as a display.
    • The other Mac you connect it to must be released in 2019 or earlier and have macOS Catalina or earlier installed. .
    • The cable connecting two Macs must be Thunderbolt  or Thunderbolt 2  cable.

    Requirements for 2009-2010 models to use iMac as a monitor:

  • The iMac used as the display must be running macOS High Sierra or earlier.
  • The other Mac you connect it to must be released in 2019 or earlier and be running macOS Catalina or earlier. .
  • The cable connecting two Macs must have a Mini DisplayPort  cable.
  • >

If you have two Macs that meet these requirements, Apple recommends:

  1. Make sure your iMac is turned on.
  2. Make sure that another Mac is running and signed in to a macOS user account. 
  3. Connect two computers using an appropriate Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt cable. 
    You can use more than one iMac as the display if each iMac uses a Thunderbolt cable to connect directly to the Thunderbolt port on the other Mac (not the other iMac).
  4. Press Command-F2 on the iMac keyboard. You should now see the other Mac's desktop.
  5. To exit the target display mode, press Command-F2 again. Either unplug your cable or restart your Mac.

Thank you for reading our guide to using your iMac as a monitor!

More 9to5Mac Tutorials:

  • iPhone as Mac webcam: How to use Continuity Camera in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura
  • Stage Manager on Mac: Hands-on with the new multitasking user interface in macOS Ventura [Video]< /li>
  • Mac System Preferences in macOS Ventura: Tips, Tricks, and Requests for an Updated Design

Top image via AstroPad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *