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What features does the minidisplay port on the MacBook Air (early 2010) allow you to do?

I couldn't find much information about it in the Air's manual. All it said was that it was a video out connection. Does it only work as a monitor repeater (i.e. it shows exactly what is shown on the built-in screen?) or can it also allow the second monitor to behave as a dual screen? (i.e. where you can have some apps on one screen and separate apps on another?)

If both are possible, where can I find more information about setting it up? (Preferably, I'm looking for help documents created by Apple.)

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Macs have had full featured multi display capability for so long, it's almost forgotten to mention how it works. Basically you get a second screen that you can place "logically" anywhere bordering the primary screen. You can also Mirror, but you get more display area by having two separate window spaces. –  bmike Oct 21 '11 at 16:36

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I am not aware of any manual that contains this information but here is a breakdown, since this is one of the big reasons I got a MacBook originally.

The mini display port allows you to add an additional monitor to your MacBook. Support for this is built into the OS directly so you simply connect your external monitor using the correct MD/VGA or MD/HDMI or MD/DVI connector if the monitor does not have a display port and then you can configure how the displays work. This is done under the Displays option in System Preferences.

From the screen shot below you can see I am running a second monitor on my MacBook Pro at the moment and I have set the second monitor to be to the left of the main one by simply dragging it's rectangle to where I want it.

You can also move the menu to a different screen by grabbing the white strip on the primary screen and dragging it to another screen you want it on.

Each display can have it's own separate resolution and even separate backgrounds. The relevant preference panes will automatically show a dialogue on each screen if it supports multiple displays, for example the Desktop & Screensaver will show on both screens.

You can also choose whether you want to mirror the display or use it as a second screen. In mirror mode it simply mirrors everything on your main display.

Display Settings

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It's easy :)
The mini-display port allows you to connect a second screen.

Take a look at System Preferences and Screen (I'm not sure if it's the right translation since I'm not on an English Mac). There you can (normally) alter the settings.

But on how and when, it depends from the adapter you use apparently...

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