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I had bought a used MacBook Pro 2013 on which Ubuntu was installed instead of macOS. Its display is broken, so I have been using an external monitor. However, when I tried to follow the official guide to reinstall macOS, nothing was displayed on the external monitor.

Is there a way to recover my MacBook Pro to macOS without paying for a new display?

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Karl Liu is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
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Normally, the boot process on a computer is displayed on all connected displays. This unfortunately doesn't seem to necessary hold on all modern Apple laptops.

There's a workaround you could try though:

  1. Connect an external display, keyboard, and mouse (ideally, ensure beforehand that this setup is working),
  2. shut down the system (if it's not turned off already),
  3. open the broken display, then
  4. start it up. The Mac will now start booting and of course try to display all information on the broken display.
  5. If you now close the lid during boot, the system will force the video signal to the (functioning) external display. And having an external keyboard (and mouse), you should be able to use your computer!

Alternatively:

In case you have another Mac at your disposal, you could try and hook them up together and start the one with the broken display in "targetdisk mode". (Look up this keyword if the solution above doesn't work and you need more information as to how to hook two Macs up with one another and/or how to start a Mac in target disk mode.)

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