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I'm trying to find a solution to switching external monitors between an M1 Mac mini and an Intel MacBook Pro by replugging a single Thunderbolt cable.

Equipment

Connections

  • Monitor 1 is connected to the OWC Hub with a Thunderbolt 3 cable.
  • Monitor 2 is connected to the OWC Hub with a USB-C cable (cable came with the monitor).
  • Monitor 2 is connected to M1 Mac mini with an HDMI cable (cable came with the monitor).

Problem

When I plug the M1 Mac Mini to the OWC Hub with a Thunderbolt 4 cable (came with the Hub), macOS recognizes two external displays but route both HDMI and DisplayPort over USB-C signals to the same display - Monitor 2. Switching inputs on Monitor 2 shows the different macOS spaces of the same machine (the M1 Mac Mini). If I unplug the USB-C cable going to the Monitor 2 from the Hub, macOS reconfigures itself to route DisplayPort over USB-C to Monitor 1 and HDMI to Monitor 2 (this is the desired state). Plugging USB-C cable going to Monitor 2 back to the OWC Hub after that doesn't change the layout. When the MacBook Pro is plugged into the OWC Hub instead of the M1 Mac Mini, everything works as expected - the system recognizes and uses both monitors as external displays.

Question

How can I configure macOS to always route DisplayPort over USB-C to Monitor 1 and HDMI to Monitor 2?

1 Answer 1

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You can't do it with the particular Thunderbolt hub you have. You need one with DisplayLink support for M1 based Mac. The Sonnet DisplayLink Dual DisplayPort Adapter works. (Alternatively, your current hub and displays will work with a M1Pro/Max/Ultra based machines.)

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  • Thanks for answering. The hub is to route both display signals for the MBP only - works fine. The M1 Mac mini has the HDMI connected and uses it for the second display. The problem is that macOS gets confused at having both USB-C (with D.P. alt m.) and HDMI connected to Monitor 2 and routes both video signals to that single monitor and nothing to the other. As I described in the post, the workaround is to unplug the USB-C from Monitor 2, wait until macOS reconfigures itself, and replug the USB-C. After that cable gymnastics everything works as expected until next time I need to switch to MBP.
    – V G
    Jun 16, 2022 at 12:44

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