Use a MacBook Air/Pro in Clamshell Mode with Mac OS X Lion
Using a portable Mac with the lid closed is frequently called clamshell mode, and using clamshell has been made easier than ever since the introduction of Mac OS X Lion. There are actually two different methods, the first is for using a MacBook closed lid with or without external input devices attached, and the second is for using clamshell mode with a wireless device like a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
Use a Mac in Clamshell Mode with OS X Lion
To get the most out of clamshell mode, you will want to have an external keyboard and mouse as well, but they are no longer necessary. Here’s how to use a closed lid MacBook Pro/Air in OS X Lion either with or without external input devices attached:
- Attach the power adapter to the MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air
- With an external display connected to the Mac, close the lid
The screen will flicker blue briefly, then the external monitor will refresh and automatically be set as the primary display, moving your desktop, menu bar, and all other windows over to the attached screen.
Use Clamshell Mode in OS X Lion with a Wireless Keyboard & Mouse
The requirements for using a MacBook in clamshell with a wireless keyboard and mouse are basically the same, although you must configure an additional option in System Preferences. First you need to be sure the Bluetooth device is paired with the Mac (if you’re already using a wireless input device, it is), then proceed:
- Launch System Preferences and click on “Bluetooth” pane
- Click on “Advanced” in the lower right corner
- Check the box next to “Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer”
- Now connect the external display
- Close the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro’s lid
If you want to get around the physical hardware connectivity requirements, use the NoSleep tool we mentioned recently which lets you run the Mac closed with no hardware attached at all.
Overall, using clamshell since OS X 10.7 is quite a bit easier than with prior versions of Mac OS X, when you had to either reboot or wake from sleep with an external display and mouse connected.
Thanks to Matt for the tip