MacBook Pro Not Detecting External Display [Potential Solutions]

As long as the cable is connected to your Mac and the external display works, you should be able to use it as an external display. But what should you do if the display does not show up after connecting it?

This article aims to show you how you can fix the issue of external displays not working on macOS using fixes, tricks, and techniques described below. Adapting the following tips will work for both Intel-based Macs and the more recent Macs based on the M1 chip.

Troubleshooting Method 1- Look at Display Preferences

The first thing you may want to do if you are experiencing problems with your external display is to review the display preferences on your MacBook Pro. To access the display preferences in Mac OS X, follow these simple instructions:

  • On the top menu bar, tap the Apple icon. From there, select System Preferences. After this, tap Display.
  • In the Resolution section, the Scaled radio button should be selected.
  • Holding down the Option key in the Settings panel for a few seconds will allow you to view a hidden option named Detect Second Display, which will allow you to detect second monitors.
  • To Detect Displays, once the hidden items are revealed, you need to tap the button so that Mac will begin scanning for the external monitor.

Troubleshooting Method 2- Look at Resolution Settings

If the first method is not working, you should try the second method as a second priority. Here you will try a few changes in the Display Preferences of your MacBook Pro device to resolve the Macbook not detecting the external display issue that you are experiencing.

Here are the steps you will need to take to resolve the issue.

  • Go to System Preferences and select the Display option.
  • In the Display tab, you will have the option to select Scaled resolution.
  • You will need to uncheck the box that states Adjust brightness automatically and then manually adjust the brightness with the slider.

Other Solutions and Tips

Check Your Cable Connection

If you’re going to do anything complex. When you are connecting two devices, you should ensure that the cables, such as HDMI or Mini DisplayPort that connect them, are properly connected and that both the cables are plugged into the correct ports. Suppose that your external display is not detected by your MacBook, even though the connection seems to be working, then you might want to consider switching cables.

Connect to another Monitor

In some cases, the problem can be attributed to a malfunctioning monitor. Your external monitor may be faulty, so the settings adjustments will not be able to resolve the issue. I suggest that you get yourself a brand new monitor.

In order to determine whether or not the monitor is faulty, it is best to connect a second monitor to the computer. This is the easiest way to determine if the monitor is faulty. If you want to continue using the second monitor, you need to change the first one, or your MacBook may not be compatible with the first one.

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Update Your Operating System

Many display problems can be fixed by simply updating your computer’s software and firmware if you are having trouble with the display on your MacBook.

The following are some instructions on how to update the software on your computer:

  • Connect your computer to the internet if it is not already connected.
  • A pop-up window will appear when you click the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen.
  • Select the Software Updates option from the menu that appears on the screen.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions, and you will be able to install any relevant software and firmware updates.

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Restart Your Computer

Regardless of how well you have connected your cables and how securely, if your external monitor is still not detected by your Mac computer, regardless of whether you have followed all the steps I have described, I recommend that you try restarting your Mac computer. Rebooting the computer is one of the oldest and most popular troubleshooting methods that can be used to resolve a wide variety of connectivity issues, including issues with external monitor detection.

  • The external monitor should not be unplugged when the computer is restarting. You can select the “Restart” option by clicking on your Apple logo.
  • If you can’t restart your MacBook, you might want to try putting it to sleep. It is straightforward to do so by clicking on the Apple logo and selecting the Sleep option. Be sure to wait a few seconds before waking up your Mac.  
  • Alternatively, you can activate the sleep mode of your MacBook by simply closing it.

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