Will replace Thunderbolt Displayport and HDMI

How to use a new monitor with an old Mac

Glenn Fleishman

Use the old monitor as a second screen for the home office - the problem has been adequately solved. But how does it work the other way around?

Home office and there is no end to it for a long time - so you set up your workspace at home as well as possible. It may help to connect old screens to newer Macs, we have explained in detail what you have to pay attention to. But the reverse is also possible if there are enough connections available.

While our Macworld 911 "Mac 911" gets a ton of emails about connecting Apple's old screens to new Thunderbolt 3 Macs using USB-C connections, it's also possible to go the other way : Connect a new "USB-C" monitor to older Macs - as long as the monitor has multiple video ports.

Many screen manufacturers advertise their newer monitors as "USB-C" models. And there is no backward compatibility with USB-C, whether that port offers Thunderbolt 3 or just USB, video, network, and power. No manufacturer has created docks for Thunderbolt 2 that allow a USB-C port. I'm not sure if that's even possible, but there just isn't a sufficient market for it if it were.

You can buy USB-C to Mini DisplayPort adapters, but they don't work the other way around: the host computer must have a USB-C controller on its motherboard in order to properly beam the signal from USB-C to the outside; a display adapter simply accepts a signal packed in the correct format and decodes it.

However, read the specs of a "USB-C" monitor and you will typically find that it also includes a full-size DisplayPort and HDMI. For example, the 24-inch and 27-inch monitors from Dell are equipped with 1080p, P2419HC and P2719HC, USB-C, DisplayPort and HDMI.

Since these standards are backward compatible, all you need to do is find one way to connect a Mac with Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 2 to a DisplayPort or HDMI port. (However, do research on the specifications for your Mac regarding the video formats it can output to avoid the disappointment of spending the money on a monitor that you have to run at a resolution less than its maximum resolution).

Mini DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 2 have the same connector type, but are different standards. This is a problem when trying to connect a Thunderbolt 2 hard drive to an older Mac that only has a mini DisplayPort connector. It will not work. (A rectangle with a vertical bar on either side indicates Mini-DisplayPort, while a lightning bolt indicates Thunderbolt 2).

However, if you connect a cable directly to an Apple Thunderbolt 2 port, it can be used to drive monitors with Mini-DisplayPort, as Apple notes on its detailed information page on the ports. This is useful read for anyone trying to figure out compatibility between generations of Macs.

Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort adapters and cables are still readily available. For example, you can do this at Amazon
Buy Mini DisplayPort (Thunderbolt) to DisplayPort cable (Mini DP to DP) from Kabel Direkt (9.49 euros for 2 meters) to connect to a monitor socket. If the monitor has an integrated DisplayPort cable or you want to swap a DisplayPort cable more easily between the devices, you can instead opt for a Benfei adapter (15.49 euros) that plugs into a Mini DisplayPort socket and has a female DisplayPort connector.

If you want to use an HDMI connection instead, or if you only have one HDMI connection available on your monitor or are free, a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable is also inexpensive. A two meter long Amazon Basics cable costs only 8.49 euros.