Yet Another Way to Turn Off Internal LCD Display of MacBook Pro With Lid Open

Jun 15, 2012 - 35 Comments

Sleep the internal display while keeping a MacBook lid open

We have covered a handful of different ways to disable the internal screen on a MacBook Pro/Air while keeping the laptops lid open and the computer turned on, ranging from a command line approach, dimming brightness or using sleep, and even a silly magnet trick, but for whatever reason there have always been a few users who can’t seem to get any of the methods to work, or they find them cumbersome to bother with. If you fall into that camp, here is yet another approach to disabling the internal screen of a Mac laptop while the lid is open, this method is easy enough and has been verified to work on a variety of MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air machines running OS X Lion or later.

As with the other methods, the MagSafe power cable must be connected to the MacBook in order for this to work.

  1. Open System Preferences and click “Mission Control”, then click on “Hot Corners”
  2. Select a hot corner and pull down the menu to select “Put Display to Sleep”
  3. Now connect the external display to the Mac and move the cursor to the newly created sleep corner to turn off the internal display
  4. Close the MacBook lid and wait a few seconds before opening the lid again, the internal display should stay off while the external display will be powered on

This approach lets you continue to use the MacBooks built-in keyboard and trackpad too.

For those wondering why you’d want to do this at all, keeping the lid open with the screen off serves these purposes; it allows for maximum cooling of the MacBook because heat dissipates through the keyboard, and it allows the GPU to devote all of it’s power to the external screen. These two perks make this a popular trick for anyone doing intensive graphics work and for gamers.

Thanks to Jared L. for the tip

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

35 Comments

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  1. Joe says:

    Thanks for a great tip! I’ve been looking for an easy way to do this since I use a external monitor most of the time.

    It’s dropped my MBP temp 10 degrees.

  2. cassiofm says:

    still doesn’t work for me.

  3. BC says:

    Didn’t work for me either. Tried it several times just to make sure. I have my MBP hooked up to a Vizio 32″ external HD TV. Not sure if it matters if it’s true monitor, or Thunderbolt cable to a HD TV or not…

  4. Chuck says:

    Got it working!

  5. Pranav Zaveri says:

    This does not work for me. Connected Dell Ultrasharp 2410 via thunderbolt via hdmi cable. I use the magnet trick its works better. It also helps me changing my external monitors res to 1920 x 1200

  6. Andrey says:

    Shift + Ctrl + Eject ))

  7. Andres says:

    Exactly Audrey! Just change all the mission control instructions for: Shift + Ctrl + Eject —-> then close the lid, wait a few seconds, open the lid. Voila!

  8. newuser says:

    It doesn’t seem to work on the MBA 13.3″ mid-2012 version? Neither does the shift+ctrl+eject method

  9. Max says:

    Thanks! This worked for me. I just waited about 5 seconds before opening my macbook pro.

    BTW if you want to use your macbook screen again just go to System Preferences -> Display -> and hit ‘detect displays’

  10. Dan says:

    Thank!,It worked for me.

    2011 mba.

  11. Dan says:

    in my case

    if you use external mouse to wake up it does not work

    but external trackpad or keyboard it will work.

  12. Charlie says:

    Very dissappointed none of the suggestions worked on my 2008 Macbook Pro which is running Lion and connected to a Dell UltraSharp U2410 via DVI.

  13. John says:

    I found that this method does work sometimes and at other times to fail me (due to the unspecified time of “wait before you open the macbook lid again”).

    However I did find a way that does work all the time (tested using a macbook pro late 2011 and macbook unibody (white) 2010):

    1. Put macbook into normal clamshell mode (external display on, macbook lid closed)

    2. Using a hot corner (on the external display), put the external display to sleep like described in the above article (at the end of this step, you should have a closed macbook and external display off).

    3. Open macbook lid and the external display should switch back on automatically (while keeping the macbook display off) or just tap a key on your bluetooth or wired keyboard.

    note: I also found that in this mode you can disconnect the power cable without the displays reverting back to extended like normal clamshell mode.

    Hope this helps some people who have problems using the method in this article. Let us know!

    • Joel says:

      EUREKA, IT WORKS!

      John’s method also works on a mid-2010 MacBook Pro 15″ i7, running OS X Lion 10.7.4 with an external display connected via DVI adapter.

      Many thanks for the best solution on the web!!!

  14. Rhys says:

    None of these no longer works on Mountain Lion!

  15. Matt says:

    Yup, I just installed Mountain Lion and this no longer works. It was fantastic in Lion, but it’s broken after the update.

  16. Steven says:

    I just found another way on Mountain Lion. Simple as hell:

    Close the lid first while using the external display, then you can half open the display now, it can only be used for heat dissipates

  17. ptsash says:

    The NVRAM method etc no longer work in Mountain Lion. I found a solution, though:
    1) Do a restart, then close the clamshell while waiting for the restart to complete
    2) The Macbook will detect the external display during the restart, and will use it as the primary (and only) display
    3) Once the restart is completed (with the external display used as primary display, open the clamshell. The built-in display will remain off, but you can now use the keyboard and touchpad. Voila!

    • Dan says:

      It’s doesn’t work on my macbook air 2011.

    • Ryan says:

      It doesn’t work on my MacBook Pro 2011 either :( After “upgrading” to Mountain Lion, the internal display comes back on as soon as the lid is opened :(

      • Doc says:

        Unfortunately, this did not work on my late 2011 13″ MBA with Mountain Lion and the latest SMC update to get Power Nap to work. Disabling the Power Nap feature did not help.

        Thank you for the suggestion though!

  18. sanonmoi says:

    Mac is so easy.

  19. Throttle says:

    It worked! Thank you so much! Hope this gives a lower temp. as well as a few extra fps. in games :)

    Appreciated!

  20. JimG says:

    I was struggling with this and several other methods to turn off my MacBook (Late 2007) built in display. Another article mentioned changing the Primary Display. Once I dragged the white bar at the top to the external monitor and performed this magnet trick it all came together. Thanks for the great advice, it’s much appreciated!

  21. Stanimir says:

    This worked great under Mac OS X 10.7.4, but after the last update to 10.7.5 it doesn’t work more. The built-in display turns off really, but a few seconds after opening the lid it lights up again. Do you have any suggestions?

    MacBook Pro 13-inch,
    2,7 GHz Intel Core i7,
    Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5 (11G56)

  22. rardhian says:

    This is how it worked on me:

    1) Put the display to sleep — however you want
    2) Close the lid
    3) Move the mouse, click mouse button, etc. so the external display is awaken. You’ll notice that the external display flashes a bit
    4) When the password box is displayed, open the lid
    5) Enter password
    6) Internal LCD screen is disabled

    To enable the internal LCD screen (again), System Preferences -> Displays -> Detect Displays.

  23. Nick says:

    None of the solutions found on this page works! Why Apple, why?!

  24. polygon says:

    This should be as simple as Win+p option on windows.
    Another Apple’s own bottleneck for nothing !

  25. Beo says:

    None of the methods worked for my 13.3″ Macbook Pro (2010) like everyone mentioned. The only thing that I found useful is turning my brightness down and it turned off my laptop screen.

  26. MiB says:

    This combination of Pauls and Johns techniques worked fine for me on my Macbook Pro running OS X 10.7.4:
    **Preparation**

    1. Turn off display mirroring
    2. Open System Preferences and click “Mission Control”, then click on “Hot Corners”
    3. Select a hot corner and pull down the menu to select “Put Display to Sleep”. Then “OK”.
    4. This might be needed: Put the menu bar on the external display. When this is not connected the internal will pick it up automatically.

    **Method**

    1. Put macbook into normal clamshell mode (external display on, macbook lid closed)
    2. Using a hot corner (on the external display), put the external display to sleep like described in the above article (at the end of this step, you should have a closed macbook and external display off).
    3. Open macbook lid and the external display should switch back on automatically (while keeping the macbook display off) or just tap a key on your bluetooth or wired keyboard.

  27. MiB says:

    Actually Preparation step 4 is to be done as step 2. Sorry about that,

  28. mwasabe says:

    This did not work for me. I’m running 10.8.2.

  29. Aasim says:

    Worked like a charm, thanks

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