How to Use Your Old iMac as a Monitor (2023)

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Use Target Display Mode on iMacs manufactured between late 2009 and 2013 to act as a display for other Macs


Tom Nelson

Tom Nelson


Tom Nelson is an engineer, programmer, network administrator, and computer network and systems designer who has written for Other World Computing and others. Tom is also President of Coyote Moon, Inc., a Macintosh and Windows consulting firm.

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Updated December 6, 2022

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Christina Baker

reviewed byChristina Baker

Christine Baker is a marketing consultant with experience working for a variety of clients. His experience spans social media, web development and graphic design.

(Video) How to Use an Old iMac as a Secondary Monitor

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In this article

go to a section

  • what do you need

  • iMac compatible

  • Work with the target view

  • What to do if the target view doesn't work?

  • things to consider

  • Should you be using your iMac as a monitor?

  • Using multiple iMacs as monitors

  • frequently asked questions

This article explains how to use an older iMac manufactured between late 2009 and 2013 as a display for another Apple device. If you have an older iMac with Target Display Mode, your Mac mini or another Mac can use your older 27-inch iMac as a display.

The 27-inch iMacs released in late 2009 included the first version of Target Display Mode, a feature that allowed iMacs to be used as displays for other Apple devices. However, when Apple released the 2014-2015tejido retinianoiMacs no longer support the feature.

What you need to use your iMac as a monitor

27-inch iMacs that support display mode have either a bi-directional Mini DisplayPort or abeamconnection (depending on the model). You need the right connectors and cables to establish the connection between the two Macs.

The iMac used as a monitor must be workingMacOSHigh Sierra (10.13.6) or earlier. The source Mac must have macOS Catalina (10.15) or earlier installed.

10 things to know when buying an old and used Mac

iMac compatible

The iMac no longer supports Target Display Mode, but several models sold from late 2009 through 2014 support the feature.

iMac Model*

door type

Mac compatible font*

2009-2010 iMac 27 inch


Mac with Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt

2011–2014 iMac


Mac with Thunderbolt

2014 – 2015 Retina-iMac


No target view support

How to toggle target view on and off

If you have the appropriate iMac model, cables, and operating system specified, you can set the target display mode. To see how:

  1. Turn on the iMac that will be used as the monitor and the Mac that will be the source.

  2. Connect the two Macs with a Mini DisplayPort cable or a Thunderbolt cable.

  3. The connection is usually automatic, but if your iMac doesn't automatically switch to the target view, pressDomain+F2on iMac to manually invoke the target view. The iMac displays the source Mac's screen.

  4. When you are ready to leave the target view, turn off the feature manually by pressing the buttonDomain+F2keyboard shortcut or by disconnecting the iMac from the source Mac.

What to do if the target view doesn't work?

If the target view isn't working as expected, try the following to establish the connection.

  1. do not dieDomain+fn+F2. This might work for some keyboard types.

  2. Make sure the Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt cable is properly connected.

  3. If the iMac used as a monitor boots from a Windows volume, start it up from the regular Mac startup drive.

  4. If you're signed in to the iMac you want to use as a monitor, sign out and return to the normal login screen.

  5. Some third-party keyboards don't send thoseDomain+F2correctly. Use a different keyboard or the original keyboard that came with your Mac.

things to consider

  • The iMac continues to run your operating system and any applications that were open when you invoked the target view.
  • In the target view, only the shortcuts for brightness, volume, and keyboard target view are active. All other keystrokes are ignored. USB,Fire wire, and non-keyboard input is also ignored.
  • The source Mac cannot use any of the features of the iMac with a display, including the built-in iSight camera.
  • Target Display Mode can be useful in many situations, but it's not a full-time replacement for a dedicated display for another Mac.

Should you be using your iMac as a monitor?

If a temporary need arises, why not? But in the long run, it just doesn't make sense to waste the processing power of an iMac or pay for the performance your iMac needs when you're just using the screen. Keep in mind that the rest of the iMac is still running behind the scenes, consuming power and generating heat.

If you need a big screen for your Mac, get a decent 27-inch or larger monitor. It doesn't have to be a Thunderbolt display; Almost any monitor with a DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort will work fine.

6 Best 27 Inch LCD Monitors of 2023

Using multiple iMacs as monitors

It's possible to use more than one iMac as a display, as long as all Macs, both the iMac used for the display and the source Mac, use Thunderbolt connectivity.

Each iMac used as a display has the simultaneously connected displays supported by the Mac you are using as a source.

Maximum connected Thunderbolt monitors


number of monitors

MacBook Air (Mitte 2011)


MacBook Air (Mitte 2012–2014)


MacBook Pro 13 inch (2011)


MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2012 and later)


MacBook Pro 15-inch (Early 2011 and later)


MacBook Pro 17-inch (Early 2011 and later)


Mac mini 2,3 GHz (Mitte 2011)


Mac mini 2,5 GHz (Mitte 2011)


Mac mini (Late 2012 - 2014)


iMac (Mitte 2011 - 2013)


21.5-inch iMac (Mid 2014)


Mac Pro (2013)


How to set up dual monitors on a Mac

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why did Apple remove Target Display Mode from the new iMacs?

    With the release of Retina 5K iMacs in 2014, iMac resolution increased so much that at least two Thunderbolt ports would be needed to power a display. Apple decided there were too many ports instead of increasing thembandwidthOn each port they have silently disabled the target display feature.

    (Video) Target Display Mode: Using an iMac as a monitor
  • When will Target View return?

    Probably never. Mac users have been waiting for the return of theiMac M1, which included more Thunderbolt ports, but the target display mode hadn't been present on any iMac since late 2014. And now that Apple has shelved its article on the feature, it's pretty safe to say it's gone for good.

What to do with an old iMac?

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