I have a 21-inch late 2013 iMac that I sometimes want to use as a display for my Windows laptop using Target Display Mode. My laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Will I be able to use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to 2 Adapter to connect my laptop to the iMac's display?

Since the adapter is quite expensive, are there cheaper alternatives to that would get it working? My laptop also has an HDMI port.

I read that using a USB-C/HDMI to mini DisplayPort adapter won’t t work with iMac computers after 2010. Since Thunderbolt uses the DisplayPort protocol, why doesn't it work?

  • For the price of the adaptor and cable, you could buy a new display which has the same size and resolution as your 2013 iMac. Dec 27, 2022 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


Since the 2013 iMac requires a Thunderbolt connection for Target Display Mode (not DisplayPort), the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter should work just fine. HDMI is not related in any way to TDM.

The Apple adapter works well, but if you want an alternative, take a look at the StarTech TB3 to Legacy Adapter.

All Thunderbolt ports - 1 through 3 - have the DisplayPort signaling (actual electrical signals, not protocol) along with the PCIe bus signals. HDMI is nowhere to be found on the TB port.

  • 1
    In your link, you state "The OS on the source computer doesn't matter at all." I have the same 2013 iMac as the OP. This Mac is running High Sierra. Target Display Mode works with my 2011 iMac which is also running High Sierra. Both video and sound work just as Apple has stated in their documentation. However, if I boot the 2011 Mac to Windows, then Target Display Mode does not work at all. Dec 24, 2022 at 13:27
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    Does Apple provide any documentation stating Target Display Mode works with any machine running Windows? Dec 24, 2022 at 13:29
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    @DavidAnderson, I haven’t found anything from Aplle, but there are many 3rd party sites that attest to this. Additionally, I have personally connected a Surface Pro to an iMac via TDM.
    – Allan
    Dec 24, 2022 at 18:11
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    With this Surface Pro, did you need to use one of the adapters given in your answer to the OP's question? Dec 24, 2022 at 18:57
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    @DavidAnderson, the SP had DP and I remember connecting to an older Mac, but not sure the year. A user at my work (school) had a laptop (HP, I think) with TB and connected to our 2012\13 iMacs. In neither case was an adapter needed.
    – Allan
    Dec 25, 2022 at 0:45

According to this post, what I am wanting to do is impossible even though my Windows laptop has thunderbolt.

  • Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.
    – agarza
    Dec 27, 2022 at 5:23
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    Just because Allan Jones does not know of ANYTHING newer that even accidentally supported non-Apple devices through Target Display Mode, does not mean something does not exist. Even if Allan Jones was right when he posted, does not mean one was or can not be made since his post. Dec 27, 2022 at 12:47
  • @DavidAnderson I don't really understand what you mean. Are you saying that you know that what I am trying to do would work?
    – Alexander
    Dec 29, 2022 at 5:31

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