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I originally had my work Dell laptop connected to 2 x monitors via a USB-C into one and the Display Port from monitor 1 to the other. This set up was fine for 1 x laptop but I bought a new MacBook Pro for personal use the only way to get it working with the dual monitors was the USB-C into a Thunderbolt and the other monitor connected to the MacBook via the HDMI which all works, but isn't easy to swap from the Dell over the MacBook.

Can anyone suggest either an easier way to daisy chain the monitors with one connection to the MacBook, or a switch I can connect the monitors to and then plug either laptop into with one connection?

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  • See this answer for a proper, reliable solution.
    – Allan
    Dec 5, 2022 at 23:56

2 Answers 2

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Apple does not support MST (multiple stream transport) in DisplayPort so daisy-chained monitors will not work without considerable effort. This is a software limitation, Apple hardware has all the electronics to make it work but Apple didn't include the software to turn it on.

Perhaps you could load an operating system on the Apple laptop that supports MST (Windows or Linux) and then run MacOS in a virtual machine. This is not exactly trivial to set up, and running two operating systems at the same time would impact the computer performance.

An external Thunderbolt GPU with multiple display support would give a one cable connection to multiple displays. This might be considered an overkill solution given the cost. These are typically just called an "eGPU", they are Thunderbolt docks that contain their own graphics processor, and often other functions one would expect from a dock such as supplying power, USB ports, and perhaps Ethernet. These are for people seeking high performance video, that's why they can fetch a high price. This is not supported on newer Apple Silicon systems, it works very well on Intel MacOS computers though. Finding any eGPU that supports both MacOS and Windows may be difficult.

There are cheaper USB docks with a GPU, but not much cheaper than the Thunderbolt options. The good thing though is they are far more likely to support MacOS and Windows. These USB based GPUs are very low performance since USB isn't exactly optimized for video. A popular brand for this is DisplayLink (not to be confused with DisplayPort). DisplayLink docks do appear popular among those not terribly concerned with video frame rates. DisplayLink does have drivers for Apple Silicon MacOS systems. DisplayLink is the chip in the dock, the docks with these chips are available from a number of manufacturers in all kinds of varieties. If the goal is multiple display support then double check that the specific dock supports multiple displays since not all DisplayLink docks have this feature.

A dual display KVM switch might be what you are looking for. You'd still need a dock or set of adapters on each laptop to connect to the KVM switch but once plugged in then switching the displays and accessories would be a push of a button. The reason you'd need a dock is because nearly every KVM switch is built for desktop computers, and they will have dedicated ports for the displays and such. Maybe there are KVM switches available to switch between laptops, in that they have an integrated dock, but I have not seen one advertised for some time.

I suspect none of these options are particularly attractive. You have two different laptops, running different operating systems, with two different sets of ports available. Finding a solution that makes both laptops "happy" is going to be difficult.

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I never got hardware working, but Remote Desktop from the Mac to get the PC on the screen's has worked very, very well for me.

Other solutions like TeamViewer are almost as good (or in some cases better for some multi display situations).

Screens is also very, very good if you have several connections - it costs money where the above are free or nearly free (based on TeamViewer usage and connected time).

Most modern WiFi on the 5 GHz and higher channels is plenty fast, but you can always use ethernet for the lowest latency and drive very large pixels remotely with no real lag. If you need a windows keyboard, that can connect to the Mac very cheaply for when you need those keys to be exactly on for your input needs.

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