Turn Off the MacBook or MacBook Pro Screen with the Computer Still On
You can turn off the internal MacBook Pro screen and still use the computer as long as it’s hooked up to an external display, and no you don’t have to use it in clamshell mode to achieve this.
Here are two ways to keep your Mac laptop with the lid open but the internal display turned off:
Method 1) Turn Down the Brightness
You’ll first want to gather all the windows from the internal display and drag them to the external monitor. You’ll also want to set the primary display to the external screen too. Then:
- Launch the System Preferences
- Click on “Display”
- Slide the brightness scale all the way to the left to turn the internal display off, be sure to disable the ambient light adjustment too
The screen will now be black and stay off, however it can still capture windows, this is why it’s important to set the primary display.
The other advantage to using the lowered screen brightness trick is that the Mac stays active and usable while the screen is off, meaning it’s still accessible on a network or could continue a task (like downloading a large file or app) without having the display on. This works even without an external display connected too.
Method 2) Close and Wake the MacBook
This just tricks Mac OS X into only driving the external display:
- Attach the external display you plan on using as the primary display
- Close the MacBook Pro lid and wait for it to sleep
- Wake the MacBook Pro with either an external mouse, keyboard, flash drive, or other USB device
- The MacBook Pro will now wake but only the external display will be powered
- Now you can open the MacBook Pro lid and the display will stay turned off
Using either method 1 or method 2 you’ll still be able to use the internal keyboard and trackpad of the MacBook Pro. Now, I’m a huge fan of lots of workspace so I’d recommend keeping the internal screen enabled just to utilize the additional screen real estate, but there are reasons you’d want to keep the internal screen off and just power an external monitor.
These tips should work with the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.