I want to keep the built-in monitor "connected" (so listed in the Display settings in System Settings), AND to close the MacBook's lid, while not changing to Sleep Mode (in both battery and power-adapter connected setups), and also better to keep the actual pixels/view blacked (in order not to lose battery) - whether by changing brightness or to "close" the view but still keep "opened" the physical display. This way, I want to ensure the built-in display is still the "Main Display", and that any other connected display is whether Extending or Mirroring it.

So, to be somehow clearer:

  1. CLOSING DISPLAY VS CLOSING IT'S GENERATED DESKTOP - More theoretically, does MacOS distinct between fully-closed monitor (to say, a monitor that is both not listed in Display settings and no HDMI/DVI/VGA pixels generated to it, maybe considered as "ejected" (if it were a disk), and of course nothing is shown to human eyes), and a semi-closed monitor (monitor that is listed in Display settings, but still physically closed, not only due to low brightness but due to some kind of "Turn off display" button that keep the pixels/Spaces/desktops as they were before). If MacOS distinct the two - how can I choose one of the two for some specific connected monitor as well as the built-in one?

  2. KEEP BUILT-IN DISPLAY'S DESKTOP OPEN WHILE LID IS CLOSED - Is it possible to "semi-close" the built-in monitor, keep it's desktop opened (and, for example, available for mirroring from other connected monitors), but close the MacBook's lid? If so, how to do it? If not, is it possible with zero-brightness as a workaround? Currently when I close the lid, it turns-off the display AND it's desktop anyways

  • What is the use case here? There are reasons why the display turns off when the lid is closed and the main one is heat. The LED panel generates heat and by closing the lid you’re essentially closing the door on the oven.
    – Allan
    Apr 3, 2023 at 12:52
  • @Allan I have various reasons, firstly I need the main display to be configured as the built-in one due to using a device that depend on it. Also, I need to keep the desktop unchanged (in terms of spaces, windows, settings) even when temporarily need to close the lid. The connected external monitor is not "heavy" or mounted to a table, so it's common for me to take it in a backpack along with the closed-lid MacBook
    – Cocktail
    Apr 3, 2023 at 14:01
  • You didn't articulate why it needs to be closed, but rather reiterated what you want to do outside the design capabilities and intentions of the MacBook. Why can’t you leave the lid open?
    – Allan
    Apr 3, 2023 at 14:18
  • @Allan as I said, I want to put the MacBook in a backpack. In this backpack, it will also be connected to a small external display, that I need to be "Extending" of the built-in Desktop, and not to play the role of a Main Display
    – Cocktail
    Apr 7, 2023 at 0:10
  • See bmikes answer below. Besides not being feasible, leaving a fully operational MacBook in closed clam shell mode inside of a backpack is highly inadvisable. The amount of generated heat you will trap will more than likely have deleterious effects on the Mac. Performance will likely suffer at the least - battery damage and a huge repair bill is a likely scenario.
    – Allan
    Apr 7, 2023 at 0:15

2 Answers 2


The TLDR is you can't prevent sleep other than in closed clamshell mode, which deactivates the main display always. There really isn't a viable hack to macOS firmware to override this behavior.

You'll need to adapt your work to automate window movement and script it using a tool like Divvy, Moom, stay or another tool that allows triggers to manage your very reasonable needs.

The only workaround is to not use the initial log in and keep the Mac from sleeping if you close the lid.

Use Screen Sharing and connect in remotely with a second user and macOS is set up to prompt you - do you want to "share the screen" or "log in as another user". The second option would let you initiate a purely virtual screen the same size as the original screen, but it would never show on the screen or the display(s) - it's virtual.

a dialog asks if you want to share the display with the other remote user (Share Display) or log in concurrently using a different user name and screen (Log In).

  • What is the "closed clamshell mode"? I saw it's possible to prevent closing the display view while lid is closed, when there's no external display connected. But why when external display in connected, closing the lid forces to close the built-in display?
    – Cocktail
    Apr 7, 2023 at 0:12
  • When you close the lid, the Mac sleeps. except for when it detects power, display and keyboard connected. Then it stays running. There used to be support articles, but Apple appears to have changed them or I didn't search the main Apple support site correctly to locate the articles on this, @Cocktail
    – bmike
    Apr 7, 2023 at 16:47
  • ok and what about my original question? I want to prevent the built-in display from disconnecting, when lid is closed but external monitor is connected. of course we have the "disablesleep" terminal command (via "pmset" tool) but it's for non-external displays use-case as far as I know
    – Cocktail
    Apr 8, 2023 at 20:55
  • The first sentence covers that @Cocktail you can't prevent sleep other than in closed clamshell mode, which deactivates the main display always So - the display is always deactivated / disconnected when closed. The best you can do it remote in to a second session - not the first physical session. I'll add that as an edit.
    – bmike
    Apr 9, 2023 at 12:41

I have a MacBook Pro with the exactly same behavior, except for me it is a problem, not the intended feature.

There is a closing lid sensor, a small magnet, that is located near the hinge of the laptop. It detects when the lid is closed and tells the computer to go into sleep mode. My sensor is not working properly and the laptop is not going to sleep mode or clamshell mode when I close the lid.

So there should be a way to physically disable that sensor in order to replicate this behavior.

I have to select "sleep" from the menu, but then it may wake up unexpectedly when in my backpack, draining charge and getting heated.

If I close the lid very slowly at some point before it is closed it turns off the display, but when fully closed, the display would turn back on. I can see the light bleeding. When I try to use it in clamshell mode, the internal display will still be listed in arrangement and I can drag app windows into it, except that I won't see them. So I have to keep the lid slightly open in order for my laptop to go into clamshell mode.

Hope this information can help you.

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    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:46

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