I have a 2011 iMac with one Thunderbolt 1 port and one FireWire port. Is there a way to use one of those ports to connect the iMac to an HDMI laptop so that it can be used as an external display? Unfortunately this model of iMac does not have Mini DisplayPort.

  • 2
    There are no "input video ports" on laptops - they are output only. So, what you're looking to do is impossible. This question is potentially a dupe, but it's reverse of what you're trying to do. Unfortunately, the answer is the same.
    – Allan
    Jan 15, 2019 at 18:53
  • If I understand correctly, what you are saying is that even by using a MDP to HDMI adapter plugged on the iMac it won't work because those can only be plugged on the output device (laptop) and not on the input device (screen)?
    – Alberto
    Jan 16, 2019 at 8:17

2 Answers 2


Mactracker (backed up by Apple's specs here) indicates that the Thunderbolt port is also a video output:

  • Thunderbolt: 1 - Thunderbolt 1 (up to 10 Gbps)
  • Display: Thunderbolt digital video output (Support for up to two Thunderbolt displays)

You should be able to use a MDP to HDMI adapter like this one from Belkin.

In our testing at my workplace, the Belkin adapters are the most robust.

  • According to the apple support page support.apple.com/en-us/HT201736 "Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt are not the same as Mini DisplayPort . They have the same shape, but use different symbols on the cable and port.", therefore I don't see how MDP to HDMI can work. Did you test that?
    – Alberto
    Jan 16, 2019 at 8:07
  • Cannot test - I do not have the hardware to do so.
    – IconDaemon
    Jan 16, 2019 at 10:48
  • Tested it myself today with a MDP to VGA and it doesn't work.
    – Alberto
    Jan 16, 2019 at 15:15

Apple's Target Display Mode page reads as if iMacs from 2009-2014 can be used as external displays for laptops, but not the other way around.


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