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Gussie Fink-Nottle Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

I am unable to set up Target Display Mode between my nice new MBA (2011,11") to my iMac (2010,27") using a Belkin MiniDisplay - MiniDisplay cable.


I assume this functionality must require a Thunderbolt cable. Any confirmation?

MacBook Air, Mac OS X (10.7), 2011 11" i5
  • niccas Level 4 Level 4 (1,920 points)

    "If you have a 27-inch iMac with a Mini DisplayPort, any other Mac with a Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt port can use it as a display. Make sure you have a Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable."




  • Gussie Fink-Nottle Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thanks for the reply, niccas.


    I'm aware of the document you quoted. However (in my case at least) the Thunderbolt to Mini Displayport connection simply does not work. The iMac I'm using works fine MiniDisplay to MiniDisplay. So, unless there is an issue with my MBA's Thunderbolt port, the fault must lie with the cable.


    I note that later in the document, when speaking of txfering audio and video, it states "Make sure you use a Mini DisplayPort cable that carries both audio and video." This implies that not all Mini Displayport cables are equal. Hence my assumption that perhaps a Thunderbolt cable is required ...


    I'd appreciate feedback from anyoune using MBA in Target Display Mode.

  • MINIcooper Level 1 Level 1 (75 points)

    Hi Niccas,

    What about a 2008 iMac with a 26" display and Mini DVI port? Could I use a Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort from the Thunderbolt port on a new macbook air in target disc mode? I looked at the available cables in the Apple Store and none of them seem appropriate for what I am trying to do.



  • niccas Level 4 Level 4 (1,920 points)

    No, my understanding is that


    For target display mode you need a 27" iMac with a MiniDisplay port (i.e. 27" late 2009 or mid 2010 model) or an iMac with a Thunderbolt port (i.e. any mid 2011 model).


    For thunderbolt target disk mode you need two mac's with thunderbolt ports.



  • Gussie Fink-Nottle Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Success!!! I finally got Target Display mode working. Here's how it's done:


    • Connect a Mini DisplayPort cable to the ports on each computer.
    • Boot primary computer (MBA).
    • Boot target computer (iMac).
    • Press ⌘-F2 on the keyboard of the external display computer.


    The boot order is important - boot the target computer first and Target Mode won't work. This isn't apparent from the documentation.


    Audio pass-through worked great too. Yay for Thunderbolt!

  • MINIcooper Level 1 Level 1 (75 points)

    Thanks Gussie!

    Do you think this would work with a Mini DVI port? Can you post a link to a Mini DisplayPort cable. All I could find was Mini _ to HDMI stuff.

  • Gator TPK Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks Gussie Fink-Nottle,


         I have a late-2009 27" iMac and have use a regular mini-DisplayPort Cable to connect a MacBook and MacBook Pro fine.  In the documentation, I've read that you need both computers to be awake and the iMac did magically become an external monitor while it continued to run in the background.  (All 8 logical cores at 100% Folding@Home).


         My question is: Have you tried to connect both computers while awake and it simply didn't work, being the only difference between mine and your setup is that I was using a MacBook and MBP with a DisplayPort instead of a ThunderBolt?  (I take it the answer yes?  You have tried?)


         I have a feeling that if you got it to work by only those exact steps, including the cable be connected before booting either Mac, then the technology obviously works and some software and/or firmware updates may resolve this strange setup requirement / issue. 


         I'm glad to hear that a regular Mini-DisplayPort cable works in this case, because I have a few.  I have had trouble finding any information about needing a Thunderbolt  to Mini-DisplayPort Cable.  I guess there is no such thing?  A suppose a ThunderBolt cable, and a Mini-DisplayPort cable are two different things.  A ThunderBolt cable will work on Mini-DisplayPorts, but Mini-DisplayPort cable won't work on both Thunderbolt ports? (meaning one ThunderBolt Port would be a hard drive, or something other than a display)


         Again, I wonder if a "ThunderBolt" cable would work on two plain old Mini-DisplayPorts?  (Also, I'm sure vise-versa wouldn't work because ThunderBolt carries power.)

  • Gussie Fink-Nottle Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Hi Gator,


    Yes, I have tried all the different boot / connection pemutations and I could only get a connection using the method described. I was puzzled as this behaviour is not the same as described in the help file, and different to my experience with my 2010 MacMini.


    I came across this article that possibly explains the behaviour. I think it likely the smaller MBA chipset simply behaves differently to other Thunderbolt Macs.


    I believe you're right in your assessment of how Thunderbolt and Mini Displayport cables cables and ports combine. It certainly agrees with what I have read on the subject.

  • rmillsnyc Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)

    The boot order was the answer for me thanks!

  • microrad Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    The follow information I had tried it done

    1. I can make sure if the mba is old model (no thunderbolt) you can connect to 27 lcd display in mac system or windows 7 system.


    2. If you have new MBA 2011  (with thunderbolt model), you can't connect 27 lcd display(old display model) in mac or windows 7, but you can connect the new 27 thunderbolt display(thunderbolt air connect to thunderbolt 27 display) .


    3. if you have new mba 2011 (thunderbolt model), you can't connect 27 new imac(thunderbolt model) for target display mode in windows 7 !!!


    4. if you use new 2011 mba (thunderbolt model) you only can use thunderbolt cable, mini display port cable can;t be use.


    5. new mba connect via thunderbolt cable for target disk mode speed is almost 60M bytes per min.


    hope the information can help you, because I ask apple support they tell me they don't make sure, I had bought it but can't use imac for targetdisplay for windows but can be use for mac via thunderbolt cable.

  • BilyFoster Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I've got MBA 2011 - 13" trying to connect to iMac late 2009 - 27".  I couldn't get a mini display port cable Apple only had Thunderbolt cables.  I've tried booting the MBA first then the iMac but I can't get the iMac in target display mode.


    I can get the MBA to connect to iMac mid 2011 - 27" and I was able to kick it into target display mode with no trouble.  Were they incorrect in telling me that the Thunderbolt cable would let me use it as a mini display port cable with the older iMac?



  • RedHamstar Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm not quite sure if this thread is still open, but i tried the order displayed above. The iMac goes into Target Display Port mode BUT only displays the galaxy wallpaper

    Any ideas?

  • Mike95 Level 1 Level 1 (45 points)

    The display order Gussie Fink-Nottle mentions is indeed odd.  I'll try this Friday afternoon and inform you of my findings as I have a MacBook 11 (2011) and will have available an iMac27" (2010).


    I've been very peculiar about the thunderbolt / mini dispaly port compatibility on a different thread and additioanally went to the Apple store shortly after the launch of the MacBook Air's with thunderbolt to confirm all the various combinations.  You can find my results here:


  • RedHamstar Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Mate i got it working. basically the display order  does work but after that press command f1 on the mba to enable tdm on the imac display

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