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I'm using an external 27" Thunderbolt display with my 27" iMac and I want the iMac and display to have the same height. By default, the Thunderbolt display is about an inch shorter than the iMac, which is quite annoying.

I'm sure this problem comes up all the time. Is there any solution for evening out the heights? I'm open to something as hacky as "this book is the right height – put it under the display."

10 Answers 10

18

I'd recommend buying this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Times-Thunderbolt-Kid-Memoir/dp/0767919378/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1330596630&sr=8-7

It's exactly 1" thick, put it under the monitor.

  • Bonus: Bryson books are usually pretty funny reads. – Ian C. Mar 1 '12 at 14:29
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    Not only is it Bill Bryson, it's Thunderbolt compatible. Double win. – Daniel Mar 1 '12 at 16:10
  • So much win here! – bmike Mar 2 '12 at 23:27
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    This actually didn't work – the book is about .3 inches too thin (did you mean to recommend the hard cover?). For now I'm using amazon.com/Making-Software-Really-Works-Believe/dp/0596808321, which is about .25 inches too thick lol! – Tom Lehman Mar 3 '12 at 2:19
  • Yeah, whoops – according to Amazon the softcover is 1" thick and the hardcover 1.2" thick. Looks like we need another book! – Tom Lehman Mar 3 '12 at 2:24
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If you want something more elegant than a book under the iMac, you can can add vesa mounts to your iMac and Thunderbolt display and then attach it to a desk or wall mounted adjustable monitor arm. There are many to choose from but here is one pictured below to give you an example. So you could technically mount both or just one to a VESA stand. Note that most monitor stands allow you to infinitely adjust the height, angle, rotation, with in pre-determined ranges.

Just be aware of the maximum weight capacity of the VESA monitor mount you choose. The 27" iMac weighs 11.2kg or ~ 24.7 LBS and the 27" Thunderbolt display weighs ~ 10kg or ~ 22.1 LBS without their included stands.

Apple Montors on a Vesa Desk Mount

  • The Ergotron Neo-Flex VESA mount is affordable and reliable. It sits on a desktop and requires no drilling or bolting. Check to make sure that they have a model large enough for a 27-inch monitor. ergotron.com – user9290 Mar 1 '12 at 22:47
  • Here's the appropriate Neo-Flex model. goo.gl/xbLSM It costs US $150 as list price but you might find discounted prices. The advantage is that you can raise or lower the display, or tilt or even rotate it, to any degree you need to. – user9290 Mar 1 '12 at 22:51
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Looks a product was created for this task. Checkout the HiRise by Twelve South as reviewed by MacWorld. Boom iMac and Display = Level.

HiRise by Twelve South: MacWorld

Mac accessory maker Twelve South has introduced the HiRise for iMac, a stand that lets users elevate their desktop Mac monitors to a better viewing level.

The $80 device is designed to support all generations of Mac that have an L-shaped stand, including the largest 27-inch displays on the latest generation of iMacs. The stand itself looks a little bit like an older, metal-shelled hard drive—a reminder of the days when drives and displays were separate components of the same computer.

5

Ars Technica's Eric Bangerman has solved this problem…twice: Ars gear: 2008 triple-headed "Harpertown" Mac Pro via Ars gear: 2008 triple-headed "Harpertown" Mac Pro

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    I don't think that backup battery is good enough for that setup. You probably need a gas generator for it. – Hassan Sep 27 '12 at 4:44
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There's the LapWorks 10" Heavy Duty Swivel:

Used under the Thunderbolt monitor, levels the two perfectly and makes the the Thunderbolt monitor nice and swively.

3

Carefully tap the outer "corners" of the base of the Thunderbolt Display to accept threaded "leveler" feet commonly found on the bottom of tables and electronics cabinets.

image of Self Adusting Leveling feet
Image source Edmund Optics. Provided for reference only.

If drilling into the base of your monitor isn't something you're comfortable with, you might find self-stick rubber feet that are thick enough to provide the appropriate rise.

  • This is a terrifying solution! – Daniel Mar 9 '12 at 15:46
  • You're afraid of peel-n-stick adhesive? ;) – jaberg Mar 9 '12 at 15:50
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    That stuff leaves a residue behind that will linger forever :-) Much scarier than drilling into your monitor. – Daniel Mar 9 '12 at 15:52
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    Okay, in my defense I was suggesting you could drill into the base of the monitor. – jaberg Mar 9 '12 at 16:03
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A piece of plywood (or, if necessary, two pieces of plywood sandwiched together) or cutting board made from bamboo or plastic can provide material for risers. You can easily cut and sand these materials with simple tools. Hardwood can also be used, though it will be harder to shape. Fit and finish quality will depend on your skill and patience, but if you use one of the softer materials, a casual evening's work should produce something that registers okay at three feet.

On the other hand, if you have access to a CNC router or a Bridgeport mill you can machine the riser out of a solid block of aluminum to produce an aesthetically pleasing solution.

You could take this one step further by extending the riser out towards the viewer and incorporate cut-out trays to store the mouse, paperclips, etc.

  • And now I'm thinking it would cool to take that extended aluminum riser and incorporate an iPhone dock into the front edge. So many possibilities. – jaberg Mar 1 '12 at 16:03
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enter image description here

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010E8N5E0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I just bought a 27" iMac and ran into this issue and some $24 monitor stands I bought for my 27" Thunderbolt Displays a few months ago work perfectly. The support stands are 3-part, 2 plastic and some rubber feet. I removed one of the plastic support pieces on the stand I use for the iMac and it lowered that monitor perfectly in line with the other 2 that use both pieces.

  • Welcome to Ask Different! The solution sounds like a good one, but the photo of the generic monitors takes away from your answer. Putting photos of your actual setup would go a long way in improving the answer. +1 in any event for a creative, inexpensive solution. – Allan Jun 23 '18 at 21:11
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Just saw this post, as I was looking for an answer to the same question. Discovered that two old desktop drives fit nicely side-by-side under the 27 inch thunderbolt monitor. Raises it almost perfectly with the iMac screen and provide plenty of stability.

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This is such a massive oversight by the apple design team, I myself use books to prop up the display, just had to find the right combo.

Good luck

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