How to Fix MacBook Pro Not Detecting External Display Issue

MacBook Pro Not Detecting External Display

Connecting your MacBook Pro to an external display should be quite an easy task. However, when nothing shows up when you plug in the external display to your MacBook Pro, it means that something is wrong somewhere, which is an issue that has come to be quite popular among most MacBook Pro users.

Our guide will offer you some tips to fix cable specifications and display settings to solve the ‘MacBook pro not detecting external display’ problem.

Checking Your Display Preferences

The first step to solving your MacBook Pro non-detection of an external display is checking your display preferences. Follow the steps below to ensure your Mac’s display preferences are as they should be:

  1. On your Mac’s menu bar upper left corner, click on the Apple icon and select System Preferences> Displays.
  2. In the Display window, in the Resolution category, select the button next to Scaled, then hold down, and press the Option key.
  3. Your Mac will show a hidden Detect Displays option at the window’s bottom right.
  4. Click on the Detect Displays button for your Mac to scan the external display connected. Alternatively, you can put your MacBook Pro to Sleep then repeat the steps above briefly.
  5. Turn it back on after a minute or so and see whether it has detected the display. If it did not detect it, try to force the Detect Displays scan again.

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If the above step did not do the trick, you could proceed with the second step below.

Adjusting the Display Resolution Setting

Your Mac’s display resolution and brightness settings could be another reason for not detecting the external display. To fix this, follow the steps below:

  1. Navigate to System Preferences> Displays.
  2. In the Display window, in the Resolution category, select the button next to Scaled, then pick different resolutions apart from the set as default and see whether there will be any changes.
  3. Deselect/uncheck the Automatically adjust brightness box and use the toggle bar under Brightness to change it manually. If the brightness of the external display is too low to register, it could solve the issue.

If the two steps above do not resolve the issue, you can proceed with the third step.

Properly Checking your Display Cable Connections

If your MacBook Pro still fails to detect the external display, rechecking your connection cables to ensure everything is well connected could help solve the issue. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Start by disconnecting and reconnecting the cables to see if there is any loose connection.
  2. Check if your connection cable both from and to your Mac and the monitor is secure.
  3. Use the same connection cable with a different port on your MacBook Pro.
  4. If you have another cable or port available, try using it to connect with a different external display compatible with your Mac to determine whether the cable or the port could be the issue.

Please note that not all MacBook Pro support more than one additional monitor. Check the number of displays supported by:

  1. Navigating to your Mac’s menu bar upper left corner and clicking on the Apple icon.
  2. Select About This Mac > Support > Specifications > Graphics and Video Support.

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If the three steps above do the trick, you can proceed to the fourth step below.

Ensuring you have the Right Adapter

Considering there are different MacBook Pro models, it could be that the display software extending to your Mac’s display, the adapter, or the hubs are from a third-party. Therefore, it is essential to check whether your Mac’s model is compatible with the devices and cables you are using.

To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Ensure that the cable and monitor are compatible with your MacBook Pro. Some MacBook Pro models use either USB-C and Thunderbolt connections or only a USB-C connection, while some Thunderbolt variations may require a specific Thunderbolt adapter.
  2. If the dock or connector in use is from a third-party vendor, ensure you have downloaded the updates or software relevant.
  3. If the software updates fail, the issue could be the hub itself. You can try connecting the other compatible cable or an Apple Thunderbolt directly to determine if that could be the reason behind the issue.

In most cases, a MacBook Pro works well with Apple-branded external displays and a compatible adapter and cable, increasing the success rate of a good connection. 

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