Quickly Enter Clamshell Mode with an External Display in Mac OS X
Keeping a portable Mac turned on while the lid remains closed is commonly referred to as clamshell mode. Clamshell mode basically docks the MacBook Air / Pro / etc and allows the GPU to power an external display only, which can help performance of some games and graphics intensive tasks. Additionally, some MacBook users just prefer clamshell mode because it can offer a more minimalist desk experience when using their Mac laptop connected to an external screen.
There are several ways to use and enter into clamshell but what we will discuss here is probably the fastest approach for those who use an external keyboard or mouse with a MacBook that is also connected to an external screen.
How to Enter Clamshell Mode on MacBooks with External Displays, Quickly
- Connect the external display and an external keyboard or mouse to the MacBook Pro or Air
- Close the lid of the MacBook
- With the lid closed, click the mouse button or hit a keyboard key
- The MacBook will awake and the external display will turn on, becoming the primary display
This should work to quickly enter into clamshell mode on any MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, with virtually all versions of MacOS and Mac OS X, and without any issues.
Be aware that running a MacBook with the lid closed reduces the ability for the Mac to dissipate heat through the rear fan ports and the keyboard which could theoretically lead to overheating, making clamshell best used in well ventilated areas or with a Mac that’s placed in something like a TwelveSouth BookArc, which is what’s holding the MacBook in the image above.
If you open the lid at this point the displays will flicker blue and both screens will turn on, that can be prevented if you’d rather keep the internal display turned off, or you can go with it and set the primary display to tell the Mac which screen to use for the menu bar, Dock, and where windows will default to open to.
Thanks for the tip idea Jared If you have any added tips, tricks, or helpful info for using clamshell mode on a Mac laptop, share in the comments below!