I have the following items:

  1. Macbook Pro Retina OS 10.13.4
  2. HDMI cable
  3. Brand new Raspberry Pi Model 3B+

I do not possess a HDMI monitor which I could use for my raspberry pi, thus I would like to use my macbook pro for that function. My raspberry pi is brand new, and has never been configured before nor connected to the internet.

How do I go about using my macbook pro as a monitor with a HDMI connection, so that I can set-up my raspberry pi?

  • It can be done if you can write to an SD Card. Basically get a bootable OS on the card and edit/create a few files to allow ssh and networking. The ssh and us Xquartz on the mac as a X server or some form of vnc tomshardware.com/uk/reviews/…
    – mmmmmm
    Jul 25 at 18:22

I won't say it is going to be impossible to ever use your MacBook Pro as a display for your Raspberry Pi, but I will say it will be impossible to use it as a monitor for a Raspberry Pi that's never been set up before.

Basically there is no hardware way of making the MBP display available to another device. You can use software to do this, but then you would need to have software compatible with whatever operating system you were going to install on the Raspberry Pi. That in itself is feasible enough, but you won't be able to set things up without a display to begin with.

If you have no available display to use, then my recommendation would be to buy a cheap used display from a garage sale or somewhere and use that to set up the Raspberry Pi. In the end it'll save you a lot of time and frustration. Only a few months ago I picked up an old 22" HDMI display for $5 from a garage sale and it's worked perfectly ever since.

  • 2
    Or just use your TV since we're talking HDMI anyway.
    – l008com
    Oct 13 '18 at 11:52
  • There is a hardware means of adding an HDMI input to the MacBook display capable of displaying the image from an HDMI output. There's a number of HDMI capture devices on the market, and for not a lot of money. As inexpensive as they may be it's likely cheaper to just buy a TV or monitor with an HDMI input.
    – MacGuffin
    Dec 7 '20 at 3:20

You can’t. The HDMI port on the MacBook Pros are HDMI out, not in. In addition, MacBook Pros do not support any variety of Apple’s target display mode - they cannot be used as a screen for anything.


You're looking for a "HDMI Video Capture" device. Super cheap and works wonderfully ! It turns your HDMI signal into a USB webcam basically.

I've used this one with success (I'm not affiliated with them in any way) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fltt5JhodCE


I think your only option is to use a blackmagic ultrastudio recorder (it has an input of hdmi or SDI, output of thunderbolt) - connect it and your device should see it as a monitor, and your laptop should see it as a live camera feed - but you wont be able to control the device.


These are the only 2 options I can think of I don't know if they work (you might want to Google this one).

  1. Use Duet Display
  2. Buy a monitor

Option 1: The app cost money and I don't know if it works Option 2: Try to find a cheap monitor and see if works

  • If you don't know if they work, this isn't an answer.
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 25 at 21:09
  • Welcome to Ask Different. Answers can be totally wrong and still help. With edits, they can also improve over time. Let’s see what happens for a bit… thanks for the answer Minecraft!
    – bmike
    Jul 25 at 23:57

Actually, there is a way. You can download a remote desktop software ( i recommend using Microsoft Remote Desktop). You will have to enter the Pi's IP address, username and password and you will have access via wifi
Here's a link to download it from the App Store

  • Are you sure you can connect to a Pi using MS RDC? I'd assume anything nix-based would use VNC, as the MS protocol is proprietary. You'd still need some way to set up the Pi to accept remote connections, which is going to be tough to do without a screen
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 25 at 8:07

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