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I've got a MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) running Catalina 10.15.3 (cant upgrade OS since its a work laptop) and 3 external monitors. All 3 external monitors are connected and working fine.

All external monitors are connect via a HyperDrive GEN2 USB-C Hub 18-in-1. In particular the HyperDrive has 2 HDMI ports and 1 VGA port (all of which I am using). The HyperDrive is connected to my Mac via a USB-C port.

My MacBook has 4 x USB-C ports and seemingly no other ports.

I want to extend the display to all 3 monitors (like I can on Windows).

When I choose to extend the displays via ... System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement tab and then uncheck "Mirror Displays" ... It extends the display on the laptop monitor to the 3 external monitors, however, the display on the 3 external monitors duplicates/mirrors the display on the other external monitors (but not the laptop monitor).

I don't want any of the displays to be duplicated! Is this possible on Mac out the box or is there any software to support this?

I read here ... https://hypershop.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360044788432-Does-the-12-or-18-port-allow-me-to-display-multiple-monitors- ... that:

Mac OS only supports Single Stream Transport (SST) meaning it can only support one extended display over a single USB-C connection. The 2nd display will a mirror of the 1st display.

Windows OS supports Multi-Stream Transport (MST) on supported computers and can support 3 extended displays over a single USB-C connection.

So I'm starting to lose hope that I can achieve what I want on my Mac which is 4 extended displays (including the laptop monitor). Any thoughts or help on this?

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It turns out my MBP ports were TB3 ports not USB-C ports.

Herein Type C refers to a cable that supports USB-C and TB3.

I solved this by simply buying cables as follows:

External Monitor 1 ... Type C (MBP TB3 port) ---> HDMI Cable (Monitor)

External Monitor 2 ... Type C (MBP TB3 port) ---> HDMI Cable (Monitor)

THEN

Cable from MBP TB3 port ---> HyperDrive (Cable came with HyperDrive)

THEN

External Monitor 3 ... VGA (HyperDrive VGA port) ---> VGA Cable (Monitor)

AND

Voila - Monitor extends to all 4 displays (including laptop display).

THE GENERAL RULE IS, USE 1 TB3 PORT PER MONITOR IF YOU WANT TO EXTEND YOUR DISPLAY TO THAT MONITOR.

And I have 1 TB3 port left for the power. Perfect!

The only reason you need a HyperDrive at all is so that you have some ports for USB-A / USB-B devices, etc.

Generally speaking, you can purchases cables from any port type to any port type. I think they even do Type C to VGA if you need it!

I purchased my cables from Amazon Prime and they arrived next day. Companies I purchased cables from were UGreen and Uni. All cables purchased worked great. God is good! Jesus is amazing!

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    I’ll second the UNI recommendation, they are relatively new (to me at least) but worth checking out for the price point. Also monoprice is amazing in the non-Belkin adapter space. (Belkin are amazing, but cost a bit more)
    – bmike
    Nov 30 '20 at 1:04
  • Thanks for the follow-up here. I want to do the exact same thing you're doing, but I think I'm SOL since my MBP only has 2 TB3 ports, not 4. Is there anything I can do? I've considered rolling back to a pre-Maverick OS but going all the way back to Mountain Lion feels like a bad idea...
    – Paul3349
    May 18 at 23:14
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    not that I'm aware of sorry - sounds like the best you can do with extending your display is to 2 monitors (including laptop monitor) - of course you can duplicate with more monitors but that's not really helpful - unless of course there is some piece of hardware out there that I've never met that can help you - maybe u could buy an adapter or something that, instead of wasting a TB3 port on the power cable, you could share your power and a monitor on 1 of the TB3 ports - that would give u 3 monitors (including laptop monitor) if its possible
    – danday74
    May 19 at 1:33
  • other ideas to free up a tb3 port ... could u remotely power you mac? i know u can remotely power iPhones, not sure its possible with a Mac but just throwing the idea out there ... or could you somehow power it through a hyperdrive? probably these ideas are not possible - but in your position I'd be thinking "I need to free up the TB3 port that the power cable is using"
    – danday74
    May 19 at 1:41
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    Update: You can power the computer through a dock and thereby get 2 of the three montiors working
    – Paul3349
    May 19 at 12:53
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No, second screens are addressed as separate windows and not spanned. You can run 6 plus displays on the macOS window manager even without external GPU, so it’s not about ports or cables or protocols. It’s the window manager design you’re fighting.

If you consider adding more pixels on a second or third display, then it’s trivial to add displays, just connect them. If you want a blended space where two displays extend into one logical contiguous space, that needs hardware or a different OS. This came about in Mavericks and there’s no sign Apple is reversing decision on this.

The best you can do is in mission control, enable displays have their own spaces.

You also might be very happy with an external GPU since it simplifies cable management and unlocks performance far past the MacBook Pro / Intel chipset alone can deliver.

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  • bmike - whilst I'm sure you are right about everything you say - a practical example of a working setup would be nice
    – danday74
    May 19 at 13:20
  • We use these as working setups all the time @danday74 and there’s no way I’m always right. Especially when I don’t know what you don’t know and vice versa. I’m not even sure I understand your definition of extend the display correctly after reading your answer. Thanks for putting one up!
    – bmike
    May 19 at 13:44

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