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How to Use iMac as a Monitor?

Most of us dread giving away our old gadgets, even when they’ve proven useless for years. An old PC or laptop quickly finds 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 taking up 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 your PC.

Apple added a fantastic feature to their earlier iMac models that enabled them to act as displays for Macs. However, Tech Geeks quickly discovered this feature and devised a way of connecting it even to a Windows PC. (Toggle to the system requirements section to make sure you can turn your 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 may get stuck at some point. And that’s why we’ve put together the following guide for you to use iMac as a monitor for your PC.

How To Use iMac as Monitor for PC?

Preparing to use your old iMac as a monitor is a no-brainer. The only prerequisites are an iMac model that supports the Target Display Mode and a MacBook or PC that supports an external display. Let’s head towards setting up to turn iMac into a monitor.

1. Requirements

You’ll require:

  • iMac that supports a 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. 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

You can connect your PC to iMac if you have all the above requirements. But, if you aren’t sure what iMac model 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.

Let’s look at how you can share your PC’s display on iMac!

Connect Your iMac to PC

Image by: Flickr

Time to get your connecting cables out!

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

Connecting your iMac as a monitor while 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 of the ports mentioned earlier on your PC, you can do it via an HDMI port.

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

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

If you cannot successfully connect 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 to activate Target Display Mode instead of 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 a broken screen, 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.

Connecting a compatible iMac to your PC, laptop, or MacBook 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 is an excellent option to switch to for an occasional movie or rely on for an urgent task, but it is impractical to use it 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 PC monitor, you can connect as many as two monitors to your iMac. Of course, that is for the iMacs without the 5k Retina display that came out in the middle of 2014.

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

Jennifer Zilin
Jennifer Zilin
Jennifer is a dynamic contributor at TechDisease.com, simplifying tech guides with a friendly touch. As the founder of GeneralQueen.com and a sought-after collaborator with influential blogs, Jennifer's expertise and passion for writing make her a trusted source for practical guidance in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

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