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I have an M2 MacBook Air and the specifications say it will run one internal and one external display only. However, I know some people report success adding more displays.

Display Support

  • Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display at 1 billion colors and:
  • One external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz

Thunderbolt 3 digital video output Native DisplayPort output over USB‑C VGA, HDMI, DVI, and Thunderbolt 2 output supported using adapters (sold separately)

How would I go about doing this to add more external displays on macOS Ventura than Apple says is supported?

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3 Answers 3

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There are USB docks which meet the specifications given by the OP. USB docks with an USB-C 5 GB/s connection to the Mac seems to be more plentiful over a faster USB-C 10 GB/s connection.

All the USB dock given in this answer have the following in common.

  • Four 5 Gb/s USB-A data ports.
  • One HDMI supplied by DisplayPort Alt Mode.
  • Two HDMI ports supplied by DisplayLink.
  • One 1 Gb/s Ethernet port
  • One SD card slot.
  • One audio in.
  • One audio out.
  • 100W power delivery to the Mac.

One USB dock which meets the OP's specifications is given in the table below. The transfer rate between this dock and a connected Mac is 5 Gb/s. This dock offers one additional USB-A port for battery charging and/or data at 5 Gb/s.


Another USB dock which meets the OP's specifications is given in the table below. The transfer rate between this dock and a connected Mac is 5 Gb/s. This dock offers one USB-C port for power delivery and/or data at 5 Gb/s.

† While I was able to get a price from this website, this product in currently unavailable in the UK.


Finally, the USB dock given in the table below also meets the OP's specifications. The transfer rate between this dock and a connected Mac is 10 Gb/s. This dock offers one USB-C port for power delivery and/or data at 10 Gb/s.

‡ While I was able to get a price from this website, this product in currently unavailable in the UK.


The prices for the products specified in the OP's answer are given below. The total USD price is greater than the price of any of the previous products given in this answer. The Anker hub offers USB-C power delivery, but no data.

OP's Products Price US
Price UK
Startech USB32HDPRO USB3 to HDMI graphics adapters $72.50 £67.07
Startech USB32HDPRO USB3 to HDMI graphics adapters $72.50 £67.07
Anker 10 Port 60W Data Hub with 7 USB 3.0 Ports and 3 PowerIQ Charging $69.99 £45.99
Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter $69.00 £75.00
Total $283.99 £255.13
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  • +1 up vote on answer thank you, this definitely adds value and I appreciate it. I had my products before owning the MacBook Air M2. They are used for other laptops that I drop in at the same location depending on what work I'm doing e.g personal or paid work. If I didn't have these items before owning the MacBook Air and I didn't have other machines (own and company supplied) to use on my office desk then I would be more inclined to look at your options.In any case, your post is highly useful for those considering a solution without any prior kit.My answer for those reusing kit. Thanks again! Mar 24, 2023 at 0:42
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    I realize you probably built your configuration based on existing hardware (products). My answer to targeted for other users who may visit your posted question and answer. Mar 24, 2023 at 0:47
  • +1 absolutely, as my just updated says that too. If I was in their shoes, I would be glad I saw your post on it too, with the potential savings as well as a convenient solution. My solution is most definitely not the only one, nor the most elegant in terms of simplicity. I have a variety of cabling to tame. Mar 24, 2023 at 0:51
  • I also have a Dell WD19S hub for a work machine and a personal machine. I hooked this up but got the one external monitor output with mirroring to one of the other monitors so my answer here instead using other prior owned items was the way to go. Mar 24, 2023 at 0:54
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    Accepted @David Anderson's answer because it covers mine as well as his answer on other options. I still think my answer is useful for my own real evidenced finding - it's a real live working successful setup, but what David's answer does is look at a broader range of solutions which are expected to work from evidence elsewhere. Thank you. Mar 24, 2023 at 10:18
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Here is one successful setup that I have tested

So the answer to the question is: YES!

3 External monitors working + Mac's own = 4 active displays.

MacBook Air M2 with 3 additional monitors attached, total 4 monitors active

(note: photo image is slightly distorted around edges, making left most monitor look broader than it is, also the shape of the mac distorted. Due to wide-angle setting on Android phone).

Answering my own question straight away because I knew the answer and wanted to post this as a Question-Answer combo, I found this can be done successfully using 2 DisplayLink graphics adapters and 1 AV adapter.

Items:

Here's how I set it up:

  1. installed DisplayLink driver downloaded from their site for Apple Silicon

  2. plugged the 1920x1080 monitor into the HDMI input of the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter.

  3. plugged the Anker USB hub USB output into the USB input of the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter.

  4. plugged the other 2 monitors into the HDMI input of each Startech USB32HDPRO adapter.

  5. I plugged the 2 Startech USB32HDPRO adapters each into a USB port on the Anker Hub.

  6. I plugged the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter into one of the USB-C/Thunderbolt ports of the MacBook Air M2.

  7. Arranged the monitors in System Settings on the Mac so that they aligned and that the mouse pointer could move between them as expected.

  8. The 1080p monitor is at the far end of the monitors and I have arranged it vertically as a portrait and I was able to set this in the Settings accordingly, good for document letters/A4 and looking at code, perhaps also for testing mobile form factor apps and videos enlarged.

There are other ways to do this with 2 of more monitors. Some companies offer combined solution docks or hubs. I would certainly consider those.

No affiliation, incentive, referral or benefit to me in my suggestions.

The benefit of my setup is that the items are individual and can be re-used for other computers.

The power can be connected to the USB-C input on the AV adapter. So the other USB-C/Thunderbolt port on the mac is free to be used.

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    Very nice use of the "blog post / self answered question" - I've edited the question to remove all the "meta" and make it a documented / researched plain question. Don't sweat it if this gets closed as a duplicate - we can revisit that once all the dupes of this Apple Silicon getting more displays answers gets linked up and we figure if we merge them or just keep them open / closed / linked.
    – bmike
    Mar 23, 2023 at 14:40
  • Thanks @bmike ! Mar 23, 2023 at 14:41
  • DisplayLink does not use the GPU to send the video data to the Startech adaptor. Instead this is done by the M2 processor through software you have to install. This can result in a loss of performance. Do you notice any difference in performance with and without using Startech and two additional monitors? It is one thing to post a picture showing your arrangement. What I would like to know is if the the arrange works when in use. Mar 23, 2023 at 16:25
  • @DavidAnderson Yes good point, thank you, I'm aware that this will use some CPU. I am new to this machine so will need some time to compare. Mar 23, 2023 at 16:30
  • I use one StarTech USB32HDPRO on a couple of other laptop setups and a desktop. I suppose that because I use this arrangement more often than not, I'm not noticing a possible difference. Mar 23, 2023 at 16:32
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Supporting multiple monitors on any MacBook Air

The MacBook Air has limited CPU, heat dissipation, and Thunderbolt bandwidth, which limits the amount of display pixels the laptop can render. Therefore it can only support 1 external monitor (in addition to its own built-in display) up to 6k, regardless of how many additional HDMI, DisplayPort, USB C, or Thunderbolt ports are added to the machine through a USB hub or docking station. This is true for every MacBook Air model ever created up until now.

To support additional displays on a MacBook Air beyond the one already supported, extra display adapter hardware is required.

There are currently 2 protocols for outputting video to an external display via USB:

Display over USB Protocols:

  1. DisplayLink by Synaptics
  2. InstantView by Silicon Motion

Display adapters that support these protocols are usually found in USB hubs, USB docking stations, or standalone display adapters. Here are some examples:

Hubs and Docks with display over USB adapters

Synaptics DisplayLink

Silicon Motion InstantView

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    +1 upvote for information about Silicon Motion InstantView as well as Synaptics DisplayLink. Having a choice between underlying technologies can be helpful in terms of innovation, reliability and price. Also appreciate the background on the original limitations of the Air. Sep 8, 2023 at 11:58

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