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How to Use iMac as a Monitor?

Most of us dread to give our old gadgets away, even when they’ve proven useless for years. An old PC or laptop is quick in finding its way to the storeroom, but how would you feel if you could still see some use for an old gadget? If the old gadget that’s taking space in your store is an iMac from 2009-2014, you’re in for a surprise! The Target Display Mode on those iMac models allows you to use your old iMac as an external monitor for PC.

Apple added a fantastic feature to their earlier iMac models that enable them to act as displays for Macs. However, Tech Geeks were quick in discovering this feature and came up with a way of connecting it even to a Windows PC. (Toggle to the system requirements section to make sure you can turn you iMac into a monitor)

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Yes, you can use your iMac as a monitor if that’s the question you’re wondering about. But there are a few delicacies in the process. Though most transparent and straightforward, you still may get stuck at some point or another. And that’s we’ve put together the following guide for you to use iMac as a monitor for PC.

How To Use iMac as Monitor for PC?

Preparing to use your old iMac as a monitor is a no-brainer. The only pre-requisites are that you have an iMac model that supports the Target Display Mode and a MacBook or PC that supports an external display. That said, let’s head towards setting up to turn iMac into a monitor.

1. Requirements

You’ll require:

  • iMac that supports Mini DisplayPort or a Thunderbolt Port.
    (The 27-inch old iMacs from mid-2009 to mid-2010 feature a Mini DisplayPort and the iMacs from 2010-2014 feature a Thunderbolt port)
Image by: Flickr
  • A PC that either features a Mini DisplayPort or a Thunderbolt Port.
Image by: Wikimedia
  • A Mini Display or Thunderbolt Connecting cable.
Image by: Flickr

Note: If your PC or Laptop does not feature a Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt port, you can still use your iMac as a monitor for it. However, you’ll need an HDMI adapter that connects to the Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt port on one end and an HDMI port on another.

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2. Setup Guide

If you have all the above requirements ready, you’re all set to connect your PC to iMac. But, if you aren’t sure of what model of iMac you’re running and whether or not it supports an external display, you can check it from PC settings.

Click on the Apple icon at the top of the screen and navigate to the “About This Mac” tab. Here, you’ll find all the necessary information for your Mac.

Without further ado, let’s look at how you can share your PC’s display on iMac!

Connect Your iMac to PC

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Time to get your connecting cables out!

Connect your PC to iMac using either the Thunderbolt cable or the Mini DisplayPort wire. Although you can plug them in while your iMac and PC are powered up, it is still recommended to power them off and then connect. It helps your PC pick up the iMac as an external display much efficiently.

Connecting your iMac as a monitor while it is powered up may overload your PC. If your PC is running slow, you may want to power off the iMac and try again.

However, if you don’t have either one of the ports mentioned earlier on your PC, you can do it via HDMI port.

  • Plug the male end of the cable into the HDMI adapter and plug the Thunderbolt/Mini Display Port cable into the adapter’s female slot.
  • Connect your PC to your iMac using the end of HDMI cable and Thunderbolt/Mini Display cable.

Enter Target Display Mode


Booting up your PC after connecting it to your iMac via a cable should automatically trigger the target display mode. However, it may sometimes rely on manual activation depending on your PC or iMac version and model.

For manual activation, press the “Command and F2” or “Command, Fn, and F2” keys on the keyboard connected to iMac. This shall also disable all the keyboard keys except command, F2, Fn, Volume, and brightness control keys.

If you are still unable to make a successful connection between your PC and iMac, you need to make a few other checks.

  • Try logging out of your iMac if you’re logged in and retry the connection.
  • Use an original or official keyboard for activation of Target Display Mode instead of using a third-party keyboard.

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Should You Use iMac as an External Monitor for a Laptop or PC?

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If you have a laptop with nothing but a broken screen, then why not? And the same goes for when you don’t have an external monitor available for your PC. But to use such an expensive gadget for such a singular function in the long-run makes no sense.

When you connect a compatible iMac to your PC, laptop, or MacBook, the iMac still runs its basic processes in the background. Whether they are the necessary hardware or software functions, it is continuously using the same power.

It surely is a good option to switch to for an occasional movie or rely on for an urgent task but is very impractical to use as a display permanently.

How Many Monitors Can You Connect To iMac?

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If you know how to use your old iMac as a monitor for your PC, you can then connect as many as two monitors to your iMac. Of course, that is for the iMacs without the 5k Retina display that came out during the mid of 2014.

Also, the number of monitors you can connect to your iMac as secondary displays depend on the number of Thunderbolt ports or Mini DisplayPorts your iMac has.

Mohammad Ibrahim
Mohammad Ibrahim
Ibrahim is a passionate writer and tech-savvy. His craving for the latest tech releases and news, combined with a charm to put sentences together, strives for more than just viewer engagement.

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