How can IMac be Used as a Monitor – Ultimate Guide

Do you have an iMac and wonder how iMac be used as a monitor? Because Apple now considers the 2009 iMac obsolete even though it has incredible features such as a 27-inch display and Target Display Mode.

During these 11 years, Apple has introduced several applications and software that can’t be loaded and run on iMacs.

Does it seem useless to you now? What about the hard-earned money that you invested? Don’t worry; your investment won’t go to waste. Your iMac can be an external monitor with your Macbook and PC. As exciting as it is, yet confusing, how can you use an iMac as a monitor?

This guide will explain a step-by-step procedure for connecting your iMac as an external monitor to your Macbook or PC.

Without further ado, let’s dig deep into it.

Requirements to Use an IMac as a Monitor

To use an iMac as a monitor or to connect a mac to a monitor, you need to analyze whether your iMac has the basic requirements or not. These requirements are essential to connect your iMac as an external monitor.

Availability of Target Display Mode

A target display mode must be considered the first and foremost factor. To support the target, Display Mode is a great feature that Apple introduced in the iMac from the end of 2009 to early 2014. The latest Macbooks were then no longer equipped with this feature.

  • The older iMacs can be used as external monitors for a PC due to Target Display Mode
  • To use the iMac as a display, macOS High Sierra or earlier must be installed on it
  • macOS Catalina or earlier must be installed on the other Mac that you are connecting to
  • It would be best if you used a mac with the model year of 2019 or earlier.

Suitable Connectivity Ports

Ensure that your iMac has the necessary connectivity ports. Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort connections are needed for the iMac to serve as a monitor.

  • The 24″ and 27″ iMac models were introduced in 2009 and 2010 and are equipped with Mini DisplayPorts.
  • It is necessary to use a Mini DisplayPort cable to connect the two Mac computers.
  • Models of Apple’s iMac were introduced in 2011, 2012, 2013, and mid-2014, including the Thunderbolt port.
  • Thunderbolt or 2 cables are required to connect these models to other Macs.
  • Make sure both devices you connect to each other should have the same connectivity ports.
  • If your PC doesn’t have a Thunderbolt or bi-directional Mini DisplayPort, it should have an HDMI port.
  • You can connect an iMac to a PC using either an HDMI cable or an adapter.

Compatible Models to Use an iMac as a Monitor 

The above features are enough to analyze the compatibility of your iMac with other Mac or PC. Although you have an older iMac and are unsure about its age, you can check its age easily by the following method.

  • Click the Apple symbol at the top of your Mac 
  • Then click ‘About this Mac.’ 
  • As a result, the pop-up will show you the necessary information about your Mac.
  • As you see in the image.
  • Click System Report to find out your Mac’s model identification.

Step-By-Step Process to Connect an iMac as a Monitor For a Windows PC

After assessing that your iMac fulfills all the criteria necessary to use an iMac as a monitor, the next step is to install the proper setup with your iMac and Window PC.

Step 1: Interconnecting Cables

Make sure your iMac and PC are powered off, then plug the cable into a Thunderbolt, HDMI, or Display port on your PC. After that, connect the cable to your iMac’s Thunderbolt Port or Mini Display Port.

In the case of an adapter, connect the cable to the adapter and then insert the male end of the cable into the Mini Display/Thunderbolt port on the iMac.

Step 2: Trigger Target Display Mode

Target display Mode is a crucial feature of the iMac that enables the iMac to work as a secondary monitor for any computer. To trigger the Target Display Mode, follow these steps.

  •  Powered on both the iMac and PC
  • Press Command + F2 
  • or Command + Fn + F2 on the iMac keyboard
  • As soon as these are clicked, Target Display Mode is triggered
  • You’d soon see your PC’s screen mirrored on your iMac.
  • To exit target Display mode, you should again press Command + F2.

Step 3: Adjust Screen Resolution

To acquire optimal display quality, you should adjust the screen resolution properly. The screen resolution delivers vivid and crisp visuals. The max resolution of iMac models (2009-2014) is 2560 x 1440. So, adjust your PC video output to the 2560 x 1440 according to your iMac.

If you want to check and adjust the resolution of the iMac, you should have taken the following steps.

  • First, click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen, and click on “About This Mac.”
IMac be Used as a Monitor
  • Tap the “Displays” tab in the new window.
IMac be Used as a Monitor
  • You will see information about your built-in or attached displays on the next screen.
IMac be Used as a Monitor
  • All displays attached to your Mac will be displayed in this window. 
  • You’ll find the display’s native resolution under the display’s name, as shown in the image below.
IMac be Used as a Monitor

If you want to adjust your resolution settings

  • Go to “About This Mac”
  •  Just click the “Displays Preferences” button in this window
  •  you’ll be taken directly to “System Preferences.”
  • you can tweak your display settings to fit your needs.
  • You can also adjust the brightness accordingly.
IMac be Used as a Monitor

Install iMac as a Secondary Monitor

You can conveniently use your iMac as a secondary monitor if you have older iMac models from 2009-2014. You should follow these simple steps to connect your iMac to the window PC.

Step 1

The iMac must be connected to the same WiFi or Ethernet network as the PC and run Windows.

From the left menu bar of Windows Settings, choose ‘System,’ and then click the ‘Project to this PC’ option.

Step 2

In the first drop-down menu, select ‘Available everywhere.’ Select ‘First time only’ under ‘Ask to project to this PC.’ You don’t need to choose ‘Require PIN for pairing,’ so you can leave it off.

When adding your computer to the window, give it a name, especially if you have multiple computers.

Step 3

Click on the ‘Action Center’ in the bottom-right corner of the PC. Connect to a wireless display by choosing ‘Project’ on the ‘Project’ tile.

As a result, your iMac should appear in the results when the PC searches for available displays. You should be able to see both displays on your PC after clicking on the iMac.

Step 4

If you want the same resolution on both machines, you may have to change it in ‘Display Settings.

How to Use Target Display Mode to Set Up iMac to Other Mac Computers

Make sure the Macs you’re connecting meet the above requirements to get a real estate screen.

  1. Your iMac should be turned on.
  2. Ensure that the other Mac is running and logs in as a macOS user.
  3. Use the appropriate Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt cable to connect the two computers.
    It is possible to use more than one iMac as a display, as long as each iMac is connected directly to a Thunderbolt port on another Mac.
  4. Use the keyboard shortcut Command-F2 on your iMac. As a result, you should now be able to see the other Mac’s desktop.
  5. If you would like to exit target display mode, press Command-F2 again. Alternatively, you can unplug the cable or restart each Mac.
  6. You won’t be able to use the built-in camera or ports on the iMac in target display mode. To access these, you must exit the target display mode.

Adjust Sound and Brightness of iMac as a Secondary Display

While using Target Display Mode, you can adjust the iMac’s brightness and sound. Playing audio from another Mac through the built-in speakers of your iMac is as simple as:

In this case, you can control media playback and adjust the volume using the sound and media keys on your other Mac’s keyboard.

If you’re in target display mode, you can adjust the iMac’s display brightness by using Displays preferences on the other Mac or pressing the brightness keys on its keyboard.

Use iMac as a Monitor Without Target Display Mode.

The Target Display Mode is only available on 2009-2014 iMacs. However, even if you don’t have an older iMac and wish to use your latest iMac as a second monitor, the latest iMac doesn’t support target display mode, so it can still be used as a monitor.

You must install some premium software to use your iMac as a primary or second display.

It’s best to consider Luna Display or Duet Display if you want the same functionalities as target display mode with Mac-to-Mac (and even PC-to-Mac and iPad-to-Mac) support.

To use Luna Display, you must purchase a Luna Display USB-C dongle for $119, but there is no subscription fee.

No hardware is required to use Duet Display, but the monthly fee is $25/year for Duet Air (which supports Mac to Mac, PC to Mac, and iPad to Mac). As an added benefit, Duet Display offers a free trial.

Quick Fix If the Target Display Mode Doesn’t Work

The target display mode does not work properly even though both devices you intend to connect to each other meet the required criteria. Consequently, your iMac can’t mirror your PC. Listed below are a few quick fixes that will enable you to resolve this problem. You have to follow the instructions carefully.

Fix # 1:

  • The iMac needs to be restarted.
  • Restart the PC/Mac you wish to connect with your iMac.
  • You should unplug your PC’s Mini DisplayPort cable or Thunderbolt cable.
  • Make sure it is properly plugged back in.
  • Once again, press Command + F2 on your iMac.

Fix # 2:

When you’re already logged into the iMac you want to use for a secondary display, choose Apple menu > Log Out to return to the login screen. Once again, press Command-F2.

Fix # 3:

You can change your keyboard settings by choosing:

  • The Apple menu > System Preferences > Keyboard. 
  • When the “Use F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys” option are selected.
  • Command-Fn-F2 instead of Command-F2 is used for the target display mode.
  • Additionally, you might be able to benefit from using the keyboard that came with your iMac.
  • Several third-party keyboards and older Apple keyboards do not support target display mode. 

Fix # 4:

Ensure that your iMac is running macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 or installed earlier. Later versions of macOS and Boot Camp, and Windows versions cannot use target display mode.

Final verdict

As long as your devices have appropriate cables and ports, you can use the iMac as a monitor. On the other hand, it would be an uphill task if the necessary requirements couldn’t be fulfilled. It s nearly impossible to connect the iMac as a secondary monitor if it doesn’t support Target Display mode.

The step-by-step instructions mentioned above can be beneficial if you follow them carefully. Having dual monitors gives you the freedom to work, play, and get entertained without being distracted.

FAQs

Can iMac use as a monitor for pc without Target Display Mode?

On the keyboard of the iMac, press Command-F2. As a result, you should now be able to see the desktop of the other Mac. Again press Command-F2 to exit Target Display Mode.

How to use the iMac as a monitor for MacBook pro?

To use the iMac as a monitor for MacBook pro, you can use the “AirPlay to Mac” software. AirPlay, which allows you to send video signals to another Mac wirelessly, was introduced in 2021 by Apple.

Is it possible to connect more than one iMac to the PC?

It is possible to use multiple iMacs as displays. You can connect a Thunderbolt cable to a Thunderbolt port on the other Mac computer. 

Does the iMac support HDMI inputs?

It’s not possible, unfortunately. An HDMI port can only be used for output.

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