Computer only | Duplicate | Extend | Projector only

Preferably without having to reboot etc, use magnets, or open/close the lid + waking it via USB peripherals I would like to have my MacBook display in "projector only" mode. Ideally, I'd like to be able to move already-on MacBook from the lounge to my desk, plug in the external display, and have it work with minimal fuss while still using the MacBook keyboard and track-pad.

Windows 7 really nailed this feature. Winkey + P is all you need to swap between modes.

Is it possible to disable the Macbook display and use only the external display, a la Windows 7's projector only mode?

  • This really does just equate to turning off your MBP display--assuming the display settings for the projector are the way you want them. There is a key for that.
    – ephsmith
    Aug 11, 2012 at 21:55
  • 4
    @ephsmith If by "turning off" you mean "reduce brightness to 0", then this is too much of a hack solution.
    – underskor
    Aug 12, 2012 at 5:33
  • why do you think so? The only difference between turning off the display and setting brightness to 0 is that the LCD matrix is still active.
    – ephsmith
    Aug 12, 2012 at 14:16

6 Answers 6


You might want to disable it by turning down the brightness to zero and put it in clone display mode. I think it would be equivalent. It is a trivial answer but it should work.

  • 2
    Clone display limits resolution options though, and turning the brightness down does not stop the cursor from entering that screen nor does it stop resources being used by that screen. Thanks anyway :(
    – underskor
    Aug 12, 2012 at 5:36
  • 1
    If you change the primary display to the other monitor, you should be able to get the other resolutions back.
    – daviewales
    May 14, 2014 at 4:34

It is possible to disable the internal display. Unfortunately this cannot be done without disabling the keyboard and trackpad as well. If you have an external keyboard and mouse this will work, however.

  1. Shut the lid of your MacBook.
  2. Plug your MacBook into an external power supply.
  3. Plug your external monitor in.
  4. Plug your keyboard and mouse in.
  5. Press any key on your external keyboard.
  6. You can now use your external screen without your internal screen being activated.

In 10.6 and earlier the internal display should stay off if you:

  • Close the lid
  • Press a button or key on an external pointing device or keyboard (while the laptop is connected to an external display)
  • Open the lid

See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3131.

The behavior of clamshell mode changed in 10.7. The internal display turns back on when the lid is opened, so there is no way to use "projector mode" by default. You can restore the old behavior by setting the boot-args firmware variable to iog=0x0:

sudo nvram boot-args=iog=0x0

Applying changes requires restarting. The variable can be deleted with sudo nvram -d boot-args.


I ended up using the solution miceterminator suggested: I enabled "Mirror Displays" and turned the brightness down to zero. Not fancy, but effective.

When I close my MacBook and operate in clamshell mode the Wi-Fi performance degrades seriously, sometimes to the point at which it is unusable. It could be because of the Bluetooth peripherals nearby. To maintain good Wi-Fi connectivity I have to keep the MacBook open, but I prefer using just the external monitor, not the internal display.

This simple solution lets me keep the Wi-Fi connectivity strong whilst not being distracted by the MacBook's internal display.


im not sure if anyone else tried but, this worked for me...

" Shut the lid of your MacBook. Plug your MacBook into an external power supply. Plug your external monitor in. Plug your keyboard and mouse in. Press any key on your external keyboard. You can now use your external screen without your internal screen being activated"

im using Yosimite right now..


I am also in exactly the same situation and looking for such a solution. So far no luck. However, a workaround is to mirror the external display with the macbook, then press F1 till the screen's back light turns off.

  • Unfortunately that limits the resolution options :( Thanks anyway.
    – underskor
    Aug 12, 2012 at 5:36

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