If you’ve found yourself in the frustrating position of your MacBook Pro not detecting external displays, you can relate to how much of a bummer that can be. A common issue among MacBook users, this problem can really put a damper on our plans to share content or create presentations that may require us to output audio and video onto an external monitor or projector.
While tedious at first glance, the end goal can feel highly rewarding when we successfully fix the issue! In this blog post, I’ll walk you through all the various troubleshooting measures one should take if their MacBook Pro isn’t detecting any external displays.
Potential Reasons Behind “MacBook Pro Not Detecting External Display”
Before we jump right into the troubleshooting steps, let’s quickly go over some of the potential reasons why the MacBook Pro isn’t detecting any external displays.
- The MacBook’s display may not be set to detect an external monitor.
- The video cable or adapter used may not be properly connected or supported on both ends.
- There may be a hardware issue with either your MacBook Pro or the external display device itself.
- Outdated software/drivers can also cause MacBook Pro to have issues detecting an external display.
- If you experience this issue while using a MacBook Pro with an NVIDIA GPU, the driver may need to be reinstalled.
By ruling out each of these potential issues, you can be sure that you’re on the right track to fixing the MacBook Pro not detecting an external display issue.
Good to know: Pros and cons of using external displays
10 Troubleshooting Ways for MacBook Pro Not Detecting External Display
Good news! I have jotted down 10 ways to troubleshoot this issue for you. You can try any of these.
1. Check Displays On Your MacBook
If you’re struggling with the issue of your MacBook’s external display not working, make sure to examine your Mac’s contrast and resolution settings – they may be blocking the proper functioning of the monitor. Adjusting these parameters can help get everything up and running again!
When attempting to troubleshoot external monitor issues, inspect any potential outlying or peculiar settings that might be causing a problem. Don’t forget the opportunity to experiment with your device’s configurations by changing various sliders in the relevant menu.
Here is a pro tip, To ensure your external monitor is not at its dimmest setting, take advantage of the Ctrl + F2 shortcut keys.
2. Boot Your MacBook Pro In Safe Mode
Booting your MacBook Pro in safe mode is often a great way to troubleshoot any complications associated with MacBook Pro not detecting an external display. By rebooting the MacBook Pro in Safe Mode, you can easily reset certain settings that may be preventing it from properly recognizing the external display device.
To boot your MacBook Pro on Safe Mode, press and hold the Shift key while restarting your MacBook Pro. Release the Shift key once you see the Apple logo or spinning globe appear on-screen. This should initiate a reboot sequence – simply follow the instructions to begin booting up!
3. Reset The NVRAM
The MacBook Pro’s NVRAM (non-volatile random access memory) stores some basic settings and parameters in regard to the MacBook’s physical components. If these settings become corrupt, your MacBook may have trouble recognizing an external display device.
Resetting the MacBook Pro’s NVRAM can effectively restore the MacBook back to its out-of-the-box state – meaning any corruption or faulty settings will be wiped away. This process will not delete any of your data or personal information – it simply resets certain configurations that are pertinent to hardware functionality.
To reset NVRAM on a MacBook, press and hold the Option + Command + P + R keys while restarting your MacBook Pro.
4. Examine Your Video Cable/Adapter
If none of the aforementioned solutions have worked and you still cannot detect an external display device, it could be related to the video cable or adapter you are using with your MacBook Pro. If either of these components is not fully plugged in or compatible with both ends (MacBook Pro and external monitor), it could severely limit functionality.
The type of cable that is used will vary based on which MacBook model you own and what kind of external display device you’re trying to connect. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the MacBook Pro is equipped with a high-quality video cable or adapter that is suitable for both devices.
5. Update MacBook Pro System Software
Updating the MacBook Pro’s system software is an important troubleshooting step in Mac-related issues, as it can eliminate any potential complications. If your MacBook Pro’s system is not up to date, it could be missing out on critical updates and patches that may be necessary for hardware functionality.
To update MacBook Pro’s system software, open the Apple Menu (located at the top left of your screen) and navigate to System Preferences > Software Update. This will provide a list of potential upgrades – select any applicable updates and follow the instructions provided on-screen.
6. Remove Or Adjust Chained Adapters
Connecting a sequence of adapters to your Mac computer just isn’t the optimal way to help it function properly, particularly when trying to pair with an incompatible external monitor.
For example, if you have HDM hooked up to DVI and then chained with another adapter such as DVI-Mini DisplayPort – this can actually cause more harm than good! Instead, opt for a simpler yet efficient solution that only involves one compatible adapter.
7. Reset The MacOS SMC (System Management Controller)
Similar to the MacBook Pro’s NVRAM, resetting the MacBook’s SMC can also be useful in resolving any MacBook-related issues, including those associated with MacBook Pro not detecting external displays.
The SMC (System Management Controller) stores a wide range of parameters that could potentially be affecting the MacBook’s ability to detect an external monitor.
Resetting The SMC
- Ensure that your MacBook is fully powered down.
- For a quick reboot, begin by connecting your Power adapter and then firmly press and hold down the power button while simultaneously pressing “Control + Shift + Option” on your keyboard.
- Keep these keys depressed for at least 10 seconds before releasing them all together. If you’re utilizing a MacBook with an integrated T2 chip, insert one additional key to this sequence: the “Shift” key!
- Reboot your MacBook normally.
8. Check The Compatibility of Your MacBook With External Monitor
The MacBook Pro is compatible with a wide range of external displays. However, it’s worth double-checking the MacBook-to-monitor compatibility before attempting any other fixes.
For example, if you have an Apple Thunderbolt Display connected to your MacBook Pro but it has not been officially verified by Apple, this could cause problems in detecting the display. To check MacBook Pro compatibility with an external display device, visit Apple’s website and consult the “Supported External Displays” page.
You can also go to the “About this MacBook” option on your MacBook and click on “System Report”. Here, you can verify the ports on your computer and then locate a monitor with compatible terminals.
9. Repair Your MacBook Pro
In some cases, MacBook Pro not detecting an external display could be the result of faulty MacBook Pro hardware. This could include problems with the graphics card, motherboard, or any other related components. If none of the above methods have worked for you, then it’s best to repair your MacBook Pro in a certified service center as soon as possible.
Here, trained technicians can investigate and diagnose any underlying issues that are causing this problem. After identifying what is causing MacBook Pro not to detect external displays, the technicians can provide a viable solution and help resolve such issues quickly and efficiently.
10. Disable “Graphics Switching”
ten MacBook Pro users tend to overlook the “Graphics Switching” option which can be found in the System Preferences > Energy Saver section.
The Graphics Switching feature allows your MacBook Pro to switch between integrated and discrete graphics cards as needed, depending on the usage scenarios. This can help you save battery power, but could also lead to MacBook Pro not detecting an external display if it’s disabled.
To fix this issue, be sure to enable “Automatic graphics switching” in the Energy Saver settings. If MacBook Pro still does not detect an external display after enabling this setting – simply resetting it may do the trick!
If your MacBook Pro is still not detecting external displays after following all of the above instructions, then you may need to seek out professional help. Ost of the time it is due to cable and compatibility issues.
You can also contact an Apple-certified technician or take a look at our MacBook Pro troubleshooting guide for more information. But, just remember that MacBook Pro not detecting external displays can usually be fixed with a few simple steps.