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If I have:

  • 2011 27" iMac (running OS X)
  • 2012 15" MacBook Pro (running Windows 7 via Boot Camp)

and connect the MacBook to the iMac via a Thunderbolt cable, can the iMac use Target Display Mode to act as the display for the MacBook?

According to Apple's FAQ this does not work if the iMac is running Windows but I cannot find a definite answer on if this works if the MacBook is running Windows.

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My mid 2009 Macbook Pro running Windows 7 through bootcamp was able to use the mini-display port on the mid 2009 iMacs 27", neither had T-Bolt, but the drivers and everything worked fine when displaying it. Since they both have thunderbolt they should not have any issues since the bootcamp drivers are up to date. If you have the MacBook Pro, take it to an Apple Store and plug it into their iMacs and test it out. That's how I tested mine out before. –  de_an777 Jul 17 '12 at 19:12
@de_an777 Aren't any Apple Stores in New Zealand or I would try this. Also, the way target display mode worked changed with the adoption of Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt ports can't (or won't) act as Minidisplay-input, only output. You could plug a HDMI-to-Minidisplay cable from a GPU into a 2010 iMac and put it in target display mode. You can't do that with a 2011 iMac; they only work with TBolt cables and both computers need to be TBolt-capable. This is why I'm worried if it will work or not. –  Glass Jul 18 '12 at 21:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I have tried this and can confirm it does not work. It works fine from OS X --> OS X but not if the MacBook is running Windows.

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It should work. The iMac is taking Thunderbolt input, so, assuming the MacBook is putting out a full Thunderbolt signal (which I assume the Thunderbolt chipset can't not do), it ought to work.

If it doesn't "just work", it could be a driver issue. Does Boot Camp come with Thunderbolt drivers for Windows?

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Your question made me think of something I should have considered: if a T-Bolt Mac running Bootcamp works with a Thunderbolt Display and according to this, support.apple.com/kb/HT5219?viewlocale=en_US#sysreq, yes it does. So there must be Windows Thunderbolt drivers for it, and that gives me a lot of hope that it should work with an iMac too. –  Glass Jul 17 '12 at 15:56
@Glass Did you un-accept my answer? Any particular reason why? –  CajunLuke Aug 8 '12 at 0:10
Sorry, yes I did. I meant to update this weeks ago but I ended up testing some other solutions and it slipped my mind. I have since acquired a 2012 MBP and Target Display Mode on the iMac works fine when the MBP is running OS X but I have not been able to get it to work when it is running Windows. –  Glass Sep 9 '12 at 16:27

Why wouldn't it? The Thunderbolt connection doesn't belong to the OS, just to the hardware.

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I think that this support document is pretty clear: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5219#24

Look at question #24.

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The OP specifically mentioned that the iMac would be running OS X because Target Display doesn't work under Windows. The question involves the MacBook Pro running Windows, so that document provides no clarity whatsoever to the situation. –  CajunLuke Sep 7 '12 at 21:01
Yes it does. Windows doesn't know anything about Target Display Mode. –  Mark Sep 7 '12 at 22:47
Yes, it doesn't, but it doesn't need to in this case. Windows is on the MacBook Pro (which doesn't know about Target Display Mode at all, even in OS X). The Target Display device is the iMac that is running OS X. –  CajunLuke Sep 7 '12 at 22:54
That's where I disagree. When running OS X the MBP does know to use the Mac's display when it gets the signal that the other Mac is in target display mode. It may all be handled in the drivers, but OS X does do something when the other Mac is put into TDM. –  Mark Sep 8 '12 at 0:26
It shouldn't. All the sending computer needs to know is that there is a Thunderbolt display there. iMacs that had Target Display over mini DisplayPort were able to be hooked up to dumb HDMI-to-mDP converters and I'm pretty sure we have a question around here where someone used a Thunderbolt iMac as a display for a Thunderbolt Windows PC. OS X shouldn't need to know if it's sending to a Target Display machine - what would it do differently than a normal Thunderbolt display? –  CajunLuke Sep 8 '12 at 14:17

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