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TL; DR: Apple monitors (in laptops, desktops, and external) support using the F1/F2 keys for brightness control. Do any third party monitors support this functionality natively?

Context: I have a Dell P2721Q monitor attached to an M2 MacBook Pro (and an Intel MBP prior to that). I seem to recall that my brightness keys worked perfectly with it, out of the box. (Important: Perhaps this is completely incorrect; I am honestly not 100% sure, since I also use an Apple Studio Display in another setup, where it does work, and I might only be thinking of that.)

Yesterday, the monitor stopped accepting my laptop's video. After quite a long set of attempts — changing cables, rebooting the laptop, changing various monitor configurations, it still didn't work, until I finally tried the obvious thing: actually unplugging the monitor from the wall (not just turning it off by the switch). And it worked! I then got spooked and found that there was a firmware update online, which I applied, with no obvious changes. (This whole paragraph might be a red herring...)

However, after this I noticed that I couldn't change the brightness via the keyboard, or the Displays panel of “System Settings” (but see above — perhaps I never could!). I have checked that DDC/CI is enabled, and certainly all of the other settings (various power and USB settings) seem as before, but F1/F2 still don't seem to work (I can set the brightness etc just fine using the monitor hardware controls).

I am aware of, and have tried, MonitorControl, Lunar and other similar software, and of similar questions here.

So:

  • Was I hallucinating that it ever worked?
  • If not, any idea what might have changed?
  • Are there any monitors that do support this?
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  • 1
    It has never worked for me with a non-Apple branded monitor.
    – IconDaemon
    May 24, 2023 at 11:32
  • Potential Dupe: apple.stackexchange.com/q/336750/119271 It’s about volume, but ultimately it’s the same issue, Mac computers cannot control these devices.
    – Allan
    May 24, 2023 at 12:57

2 Answers 2

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Unfortunately, you can’t natively control monitor brightness, power state (on/off) or volume because macOS doesn’t support the CEC (Consume Electronics Control) protocol.

There is a potential workaround called MonitorControl (FOSS) that will utilize the on-screen display controls of your monitor. There seems to be an option to synchronize brightness or utilize alternate keys to control brightness. It’s available as a download (DMG) from GitHub or via Homebrew

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  • MonitorControl made F1/F2 keys working for me with my external Dell monitor 👍 Feb 13 at 15:51
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Well, it does seem like I was hallucinating: non-Apple external monitors do not seem to support the brightness keys (which is annoying; why not?).

Here's a post on the Dell product forums that discusses their monitors in general.

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  • I think the LG UltraFine models that Apple sold had native brightness control.
    – ma1234
    May 25, 2023 at 14:59

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