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I have a thunderbolt display that is connected to a retina MBP (13"). I would like to connect my Dell monitor (which has a gauntlet of inputs, most notably HDMI and DVI, but not DisplayPort or Thunderbolt) into my Thunderbolt display so that I don't have to plug two monitors into my laptop every time I sit down.

I have a VGA to Thunderbolt adapter, however when I plug the Dell into the Thunderbolt display the MBP doesn't detect the monitor. I'm willing to buy another adapter for DVI or HDMI but I need to know it will work first.

Note that plugging in the Dell via HDMI directly into the MBP, or via the VGA adapter to the MPB works fine, however it is very inconvenient.

Is there a solution that I can chain my Dell monitor into my Thunderbolt display?

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The Thunderbolt Display can't daisy chain other non-Thunderbolt Displays. Per Apple Support article HT5219:

Can I connect a Mini DisplayPort display to my Apple Thunderbolt Display for computers that support using more than one display?

Mini DisplayPort displays will not function if connected to the Thunderbolt port of an Apple Thunderbolt Display. Displays connected via Mini DisplayPort video adapter or cable to the Thunderbolt port of an Apple Thunderbolt Display will not work.

You'll have to connect the second display to the second Thunderbolt port (or HDMI port) on your rMBP.

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That is too bad. –  Resorath Dec 6 '12 at 20:01

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