The way to Flip a MacBook Right into a Desktop Mac


A man at as desk looking at a MacBook and two large desktop monitors.
Mates Inventory/Shutterstock

MacBooks excel at being light-weight, transportable workstations, and have a number of the greatest battery life within the sport. With the correct peripherals, additionally they make succesful desktop machines. Right here’s learn how to flip your Apple laptop computer right into a desk-friendly workstation.

Utilizing Exterior Screens with Your MacBook

Utilizing an exterior monitor along with your MacBook might be transformative. You should utilize the laptop computer show, together with an exterior monitor, or hook up a number of displays and place your MacBook out of the way in which. The macOS remembers issues like your most popular decision and window association everytime you join or disconnect an exterior monitor.

Understanding the restrictions of your MacBook is necessary. Its age and {hardware} capabilities will dictate what you possibly can and might’t do. One of the best ways to seek out out for positive is to seek for your mannequin on the Apple Help web site.

For instance, trying to find a “15-inch 2016 MacBook Professional” yields technical specs for the bottom 2016 mannequin. Underneath the “Video Help” part, it states this mannequin helps two exterior shows with a decision of 5120 x 2880 at 60Hz, or 4 shows with a decision of 4096 x 2304.

You should utilize the identical methodology to know learn how to join any exterior monitor to your MacBook. The 2016 MacBook Professional we searched helps native DisplayPort over USB-C, which implies it has no HDMI output, simply USB-C, therefore, the “native.” The spec sheet states that HDMI, VGA, and Thunderbolt 2 are additionally supported, however you want an adapter to make it work.

CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

Be aware that if you wish to use a number of HDMI displays with a MacBook, you want an adapter with a number of HDMI outputs, just like the CalDigit Thunderbolt Three Mini Dock ($129).

When you’re utilizing Thunderbolt to attach your monitor, you may be capable of daisy-chain shows collectively. In different phrases, you’d join one show to your MacBook, and a second to that first show.

Each shows will then present up, and you need to use them independently in macOS. Ensure you test that your MacBook and monitor help the required technology before you purchase.

RELATED: The way to Use A number of Screens on Your Mac

Selecting an Exterior Keyboard

When you’re utilizing an exterior monitor as your main show, and thus, placing your MacBook elsewhere, you’ll want a technique to kind. The apparent alternative is Apple’s wi-fi Magic Keyboard ($99). When you desire having a numeric keyboard, you may get the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad ($129) for an additional $30.

Apple Magic Keyboard 2

Each keyboards join by way of Bluetooth, are rechargeable, and use Apple’s iPhone and iPad Lightning charging connector. There’s a full set of multimedia keys and the standard Mac-specific format you’re used to in your MacBook keyboard. You possibly can even specify different keyboard layouts, like British English or Japanese, at checkout for those who desire.

Whereas Apple makes a stable keyboard, there are many different choices on the market. Virtually any USB or wi-fi keyboard (RF or Bluetooth) ought to work along with your Mac. You may as well use apps like Karabiner-Parts to customise your keyboard format. This additionally means you possibly can remap keys—just like the Home windows Alt key to Command—so you need to use them on a Mac.

Mechanical keyboards are additionally a stable possibility. Though steadily marketed for avid gamers, these are perfect for anybody who spends a variety of their day typing. Do your analysis so that you perceive how mechanical keyboards differ from the usual membrane design. Every change design has a unique really feel and sound, however they are often changed individually with customized keycaps, if that’s your factor.

Kinesis Advantage2 Keyboard

When you’re intent on going above and past to your desktop setup, you may wish to contemplate an ergonomic keyboard. They arrive in all sizes and styles, from the concave curves of the Kinesis Advantage2 ($349) to the break up design of one thing just like the ErgoDox EZ (beginning at $270).

Controlling the Mouse Pointer

When you’re studying this, you’re already accustomed to the MacBook’s outsized, multi-touch trackpad. If you wish to emulate its really feel and performance, look no additional than Apple’s Magic Trackpad 2 (from $129). There’s nothing else in the marketplace fairly prefer it, so if contact enter is necessary to you, that is what you want.

Not solely is the trackpad big, rechargeable, and wi-fi, however it additionally supplies you with entry to the identical multi-touch features you’re used to in your MacBook. This contains pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scrolling, and different macOS gestures that make getting round your makeshift desktop a comparatively painless expertise.


Most common mice may even work along with your Mac, whether or not they’re wired or wi-fi. Some wi-fi mice require an RF dongle that you just join by way of your MacBook’s USB port. Apple’s Magic Mouse 2 (from $79) will do the job, however so will many cheaper options. Though most of those will work along with your Mac, double-check that it’s explicitly said for any mouse that you just purchase.

There are additionally choices if you wish to keep away from any wrist issues or carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomic mice are designed for individuals who spend hours per day at a desk, clicking and dragging. There are various strange designs to select from, together with vertical mice, which rise up sideways, and trackball mice, which let your fingers do a lot of the strolling.

Don’t Overlook About Storage

One of many largest limitations of recent laptops is storage capability. Strong-state drives (SSDs) are quick and sturdy, however they’re nonetheless pretty costly in comparison with mechanical onerous drives. If you need your MacBook to drag double responsibility as a desktop, you’re probably going to want some kind of exterior storage.

This may very well be one thing so simple as a single USB-attached onerous drive. The drive can be utilized to again up your Mac with Time Machine and retailer private information. You probably have the money, although, you possibly can go for an exterior SSD. It’ll offer you a lot quicker learn and write speeds.

For one thing a bit extra strong, contemplate investing in a correct storage resolution. Objective-built RAID enclosures sit in your desk and supply an enormous quantity of flexibility. RAID means that you can map a number of exterior onerous drives in quite a lot of methods, together with as a single quantity or mirrored backup. When you concentrate on information redundancy, you possibly can merely swap out a drive if it fails with minimal problem.

G-Tech G-RAID Enclosure

When you’re going the RAID route, get the quickest enclosure you possibly can afford. In case your MacBook has Thunderbolt 3, get an enclosure that helps that customary. Enclosures can be found as bare-bones shells so you possibly can add your individual drives or already stuffed with onerous drives.

Old school onerous drives are perfect for house use as a result of they’re low-cost and don’t go away your desk, so that they received’t be broken in your commute.

You may as well use network-attached storage (NAS) drives. These make your drives obtainable over your native community and even the web, for those who desire. NAS drives, although, are slower than these instantly linked to your MacBook, particularly over a wi-fi community.

Fighting a paltry quantity of area in your MacBook? There are additionally choices to extend its storage!

Docks and Hubs Simplify the Transition

Docks and hubs serve two functions for MacBook homeowners: increasing the variety of ports, and simplify the usage of your MacBook as a desktop.

CalDigit Dual HDMI Thunderbolt 3 Hub

The primary profit is pretty self-explanatory. You probably have a latest MacBook, you’re fortunate to have something aside from a USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) port for connecting exterior gadgets, like USB sticks. A hub can remedy this problem by offering a wider vary of ports. A whole lot of hubs are designed with portability in thoughts, whereas others perform extra as docking stations in your desk.

Docks actually shine once they’re used as a single level of connection for all of your desk peripherals. When you join all displays, storage gadgets, and different peripherals to a dock, you possibly can merely join your MacBook to a hub or docking station if you get house, and voilà: desktop!

Moveable hubs are low-cost, present restricted growth, and take up little or no room in your desk. One thing just like the Satechi Multi-Port Adapter ($80) or Anker 7-in-1 USB-C Hub ($60) will present ample expandability in a comparatively small package deal.

When you’d reasonably sit your Thunderbolt Three MacBook in a simple-powered vertical docking station, contemplate the Brydge Vertical Dock ($169).

Brydge Vertical MacBook Dock

If you wish to take it a step additional, try the CalDigit TS3 Plus ($249). This dock supplies twin 4K monitor help, a card reader, line-in and audio-out, gigabit ethernet, and it even permits for Thunderbolt daisy-chaining.

There are hubs obtainable for each price range or requirement, so store round to seek out the one which most accurately fits your house workplace setup.

One MacBook Can Do It All

When you’re struggling to justify the acquisition of an iMac or new M1-equipped Mac mini, your cash could be higher spent on exterior displays and USB-C hubs, as an alternative.

Sooner or later, the hole is bound to widen between Apple silicon processors designed for cellular and desktop use. For now, although, there’s little or no separating the M1 Mac mini from the M1 MacBook Air.

Are you new to working from house? Try our Mac suggestions for working remotely to make the transition with ease.


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