Dual Monitor Setup on MacBook

MacBook Pro with Truly Dual Monitor Setup

When I said “truly” simply means extending your Mac screen to two external monitors excluding your Mac screen. What do you need? To get this dual monitor setup on your Mac, you can achieve using these two methods:

  1. Using individual display adapters, mini DisplayPort to VGA/DVI adapter and USB to VGA/DVI adapter.
  2. Using the multi-display adapter connects to the Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, or Mini DisplayPort video output of your system.

Method 2 requires one adapter that can output two or even three monitors (or four monitors if you include your Mac screen). This method is relatively more expensive than method 1 because the cost of the adapter is expensive. To go this way, you can try Matrox DualHead2Go products. What I would like to share in this post is using method 1, using individual display adapter as I use in our Mac Accessories.

Individual USB Display Adapter

What I mean by “individual” here is you have one input and one output in your display adapter. To go with this setup, first, you need a legacy display adapter from Apple, in my MacBook Pro 13″ in early 2011 I have a mini DisplayPort, so I bought a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter (also the DVI version for testing purposes) to connect to my main screen Dell P2211H. I think this is the minimum requirement to extend your Mac screen to an external monitor if you want to utilize a video port from Apple.

Then what you need next is using a USB port and convert it to the video output. To do this you can use a USB to VGA/DVI adapter. You can find this kind of adapter at Amazon from several different brands. For your reference, I listed currently available at Amazon individual USB adapters based on their market name.

  • Diamond BVU195 HD USB 2.0 to VGA/DVI/HDMI Adapter
  • HIS Multi-View II DVI USB 2.0 Adapter
  • Kensington Universal Multi-Display Adapter
  • Plugable UGA-2K-A USB 2.0 to VGA/DVI/HDMI Adapter
  • Speed UGA-2K USB 3.0 to DVI/HDMI Video Graphics Card/Adapter

I use the Kensington Universal Multi-Display Adapter to connect to my second Dell P2211H monitor. I bought this adapter a couple of years ago when I wanted to extend my Windows laptop to a dual view screen. I chose this adapter after reading some feedback from the Internet and considering budget and product availability at Amazon at that time. It cost me $60 at the time I bought it.

Kensington Universal Multi-Display Adapter Installation

As I mentioned above, the first time I bought this Kensington Universal Multi-Display adapter for my Windows laptop. I plugged it into the USB port of my laptop and I can get an instant dual screen monitor. Easy to install and no issue at all. I can make my second screen to have the same view (clone mode) or a different view (extended mode). The only thing I can notice when using this adapter for my second monitor, I feel latency when I move my mouse on my second screen. Also, I can see a delay when playing YouTube on my second monitor.

I move to Mac system 1.5 years ago. I wanted to keep my dual-screen setup using this Kensington Universal Multi-Display adapter. I plugged a mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter into my Mac and main monitor. It really plugs and plays for this legacy port. Then I added a USB Kensington Universal Multi-Display adapter to connect to my second monitor. It quite plugs and plays as well before I upgraded my OS X from Lion to Mountain Lion. After I upgraded my OS X to Mountain Lion, I couldn’t get this Kensington adapter to work. I upgraded my OS X to Mountain Lion one week after it’s released. I did some research on the Internet to find a solution to this issue. Unfortunately, very few people have the same problem with the same Mac configuration (Mountain Lion with true dual-screen setup).

I jumped to the Kensington website to see if they had an updated firmware for Mac. It hadn’t been released yet. Then I went to a website that made a chipset for this Kensington adapter. I found the updated driver for Mac, updated it and my second monitor worked again with Kensington Universal Multi-Display adapter.

I like this adapter. Although, I still feel the latency problems on my second monitor when moving my mouse. I still can see a delay when playing video or YouTube on my monitor that is connected using this individual display adapter.

Disclaimer: This is the author’s personal experience using the Kensington Universal Multi-Display adapter. The author has no intention to sell any product in this review. Someone might have different experiences using this adapter.

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