Using an iMac as an extension screen for a Windows laptop

dshrenik
dshrenik used Ask the Experts™
on
Please let me know if it is possible to use an iMac as an extension screen for a Windows laptop.
If yes, please tell me the equipment required and the procedure to get started.

Thanks!
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
If the iMac in question is a 27-inch iMac with a Mini DisplayPort connector on the back, then you can use Target Display Mode on the iMac to turn it into a display (see Using a 27-inch iMac (Late 2009 or Mid 2010) as an external display). Assuming you have a DVI port on your Windows laptop, you will need a DVI-to-Mini DisplayPort adapter such as the Gefen DVI to Mini DisplayPort Converter, or Atlona DVI to Mini DisplayPort converter. These aren't cheap.  You'll also need a Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable, to connect the converter to the back of the iMac.

If the iMac in question is the current-generation model with Thunderbolt ports, Target Display Mode will only work with other Thunderbolt-enabled Macintosh computers (see iMac (Mid 2011): Target Display Mode does not work with Mini DisplayPort cable).

If the iMac in question is any other model, it cannot be used as an external display for another computer.

--
Bryan Vines
The cable you link to would allow you to connect an HDMI display to a computer which has a Mini DisplayPort connection.

The "direction" of the signals is usually implied in the product name: Mini DisplayPort to HDMI means a signal comes from Mini DisplayPort and goes to HDMI.

To use a previous-generation 27" iMac as a display for another computer, you need something which takes a signal from whatever video interface the other computer has and converts them to Mini DisplayPort.

If you have an HDMI output on your Windows laptop, you could use the Belkin AV360 HDMI-to-Mini DisplayPort Converter to convert the HDMI video signals into Mini DisplayPort signals. This device comes with a Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable, so the only other thing you'd need to connect it to your Windows laptop's HDMI output is an HDMI cable.

--
Bryan Vines
Success in ‘20 With a Profitable Pricing Strategy

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden using our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Start calculating Now!

Author

Commented:
Is there a cheaper solution? It is fine even I have to use multiple inexpensive connectors
Unfortunately not. The Mini DisplayPort connector on the back of the iMac can output signals compatible with other Mini DisplayPort displays, signals compatible with DVI and signals compatible with VGA. But it can only accept input of signals compatible with Mini DisplayPort. As a result, you need additional hardware to convert from HDMI or DVI to Mini DisplayPort.

For all the money you'd spend on converters and cables to use the iMac as an extra screen, you could buy a nice 23" LCD from NewEgg.

--
Bryan Vines

Author

Commented:
Thank you!

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial