I run two external displays off my macbook pro 16" but when I'm not working, I much prefer disconnecting from them and using my MBP as my sole screen. Constantly disconnecting them from the ports is a pain in the butt (since i have one plugged into each side of the computer) and I fear it will wear on the jacks. I figured turning off the display's power would do the trick...but it does not. The displays go black (obviously) but the macbook still thinks its connected to them and I can still mouse off screen etc. What's the hack here?

  • Please stop suggesting outlets with on/off switches, they don't work. Mac is registering that something is plugged in the thunderbolt port and then no matter what you do, the monitor will still be there. Even if you unplug the VGA connection from the display (while leaving thunderbolt side plugged in) Mac will think that there IS a second display.
    – Alex S.
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 10:04

3 Answers 3


One option is to use SwtichResX

SwitchResX is the most advanced tool for Apple computers to take control of any screen connected to the Mac. No matter whether a MacBook Screen, an external monitor, a Retina display, a TV set or a beamer: SwitchResX can handle them all – if you want, straight from the menubar, a contextual menu or both. It's that easy!

It works as you need.

  • I had a friend who used this a while ago and said it was super finicky with more than one display. Do you have any experience with it and it is smooth?
    – jldriver
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 17:42
  • To be honest, what I saw is that it doesn't turn off but it puts the monitor in black. but it works as we want. Give a try. In addition, a guy made a code and shared in Github, it was working few years ago, but I haven't smoked a test on it. You can go through it too github.com/Eun/DisableMonitor/releases
    – Udhy
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 17:49
  • 1
    I don't really care so much if the monitors are off or black, but I care that they are disconnected, i.e. my macbook screen goes back to being the only screen, with the resolution and sizing I have set for that and my mouse stops at the edges of its screen etc.
    – jldriver
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 18:05
  • 2
    It's also a matter of no longer using the GPU, more importantly
    – jldriver
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 0:01

Yeah, this is annoying. I use my external monitor for meetings, but otherwise prefer just the macbook screen. The mouse goes off the screen, and notifications go to the turned-off monitor.

The best I've come up with is making it easy to unplug the monitor with this outlet switch: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QKPBZX1/. It works because the outlet is right by my chair.

With this setup (laptop via usb-c to docking station; docking station to monitor via hdmi) I can keep everything connected and just click one switch for monitor on/off.


With actual fork to Disable Monitor https://github.com/epalzeolithe/DisableMonitor-3.0

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