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Any risk/downsides to using external display with 13" MacBook Pro

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Any risk/downsides to using external display with 13" MacBook Pro
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Mr. Vieira
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Tennessee
2023-03-09, 21:49

My Mom is trying to give me her never-used 24" external display she bought to use with her MacBook Air at her desk. Thing is, she only uses her Air on her living room couch, bed and sometimes other places, but never (rarely) her desk. So it's just sitting there. When I asked about it last weekend, she said "I never use it...take it if you want."

I never do anything without learning about it all first and seeing what's what is worth knowing/realizing, otherwise I would've brought it home last weekend.

So I've never had this setup before. Is there anything I should know - heating, strain, etc. from doing this? Do I need to keep the MacBook Pro open and do the two-screen thing, or can I close it and use it as a really large/flat MacBook Air? I may get my paws on it tomorrow, certainly by Sunday. like her Air, I'll be plugging into the thunderbolt port on the side. It's a DV to HDMI into the back of the display itself, I believe. I don't even recall the name. It was about $119 at Office Depot and it looks pretty nice, but it's not Retina or anything super nice/fancy, I'm sure, at that pricing. I was just mainly interested in the larger size/readability impact.

My MacBook is an Early 2013 Retina 13" MacBook Pro w/ 2.6GHz Dual Core Intel Core i5 and Intel HD Graphics 4000 with 1536 MB (just copying this info directly from the "About This Mac" window. The machine itself has 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, for whatever that may matter.

Thanks. It would be nice to have 24" of display on certain tasks/projects, although I'm comfortable with the 13" Retina for sure. It may not be worth the hassle, if it turns out there is any.
Veteran Member
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Promise Land of Trustafarians
2023-03-09, 22:21

I don't think you'd have any issues, but if it's a 1080p display it might look bad.
Mr. Vieira
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Tennessee
2023-03-10, 00:02

Yeah, not expecting Retina beauty and all, I just didn't know if it was ultra taxing on my MacBook or not, doing such a thing. I didn't want to run into overheating/strain problems, having never used this type of setup. Trying to figure out the best way to keep the MacBook in front of me, to use its keyboard and where to set the 24" external. Stuff I'll figure out. I've got an old school "shortboard" Apple Bluetooth keyboard sitting here that I've not used in 700 years. I could throw a couple of batteries in it and use it (and my older, battery-based Magic Mouse and set stuff wherever I wanted. Curious to see if this 24" will help with some of the architectural/floorplan type drawings I'm often doing these days, zooming in, seeing more, in bigger size, etc.

When I connect these two, will the external monitor set/default to its default, main resolution/size or is that something I have to set/monkey with in settings? It's 2023, I've been using Macs since 1993 and I've never used an external display with a MacBook or any kind in all these years. So please forgive all the silly, ignorant-ass questions I'm likely gonna post here in the coming hours/days. The more I sit here tonight, surfing and all, the more I want to give this a try. I used a 20" iMac (1680x1050) for 11+ years and enjoyed that working space. I figure a 24" display, even at 16:9, is going to be more than that.

UPDATE: This appears to be it. I thought I was with her the day she got it at Office Depot, but she said it was from Amazon. She sent me a pic of the box and it has the "prime" logo tape around it, so yeah... Viewing the specs in the Amazon link, anything stand out out, good or bad? the resolution looks to be 1920x1080. I don't know what all the rest really mean or point to.
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Purgatory
2023-03-10, 09:07

Originally Posted by psmith2.0 View Post
When I connect these two, will the external monitor set/default to its default, main resolution/size or is that something I have to set/monkey with in settings?
It'll default to its native resolution. If you want to keep both the laptop and external display both on at the same time you'll want to go into System Settings>Displays where you arrange which one is on the left/right, how high/low (so your cursor floats between the two nicely), etc. It'll pop up like this when you have the external attached:

Just grab and move 'em where you want. If you close the laptop only the external shows up.

[Edit]: if you don't have an extra HDMI cable laying around you could also use a Mini DP to HDMI like this.

So it goes.
Veteran Member
Join Date: May 2004
2023-03-10, 17:06

FWIW, until two years ago I had a 2012 Intel MBPro running dual 24" 1080p displays on my desk. I used to use it with the laptop closed (get a vertical stand for it in that case with the hinge pointed up, it will dissipate the heat better than if it's flat), but since video conferencing became much more important a couple of years ago, its replacement (2019 Intel MBPro) is now on a laptop shelf between the two monitors on the same armature, so I can use the built in camera and not have it pointed up my nostrils.

Three monitors, bluetooth keyboard/trackpad.

No sweat.

Monitor stand:

Laptop shelf:

If you're connecting / disconnecting a lot, a dock is a nice extra.

709's advice is spot on, The top of my laptop screen is in-line with the top edge of the monitors, so it acts much like one big screen.
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