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How to use a laptop as a monitor for Mac Mini?

Posted on 2011-09-19
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
hello,

i'll be receiving a Mac Mini soon, it's a mac mini 2.3 Ghz, i5, 2GB RAM, my idea is to connect the mac mini and use my existing laptop as a monitor for this mac, please advice what cables should i get?

thanks
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Question by:World05
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Accepted Solution

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maximus5328 earned 250 total points
ID: 36564769
Most likely, you will not be able to use your laptop as the monitor to your Mac mini. You may be able to use your laptop to remotely control the Mac mini but you will still need a separate monitor to initially set up the Mac mini.
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Expert Comment

by:Mac2010
ID: 36564940
If your laptop is a Mac with Thunderbolt you should be able to boot it in "Target Display mode" and be able to use it as monitor for the MacMini that way.
http://www.macworld.com/article/159616/2011/05/imacs_thunderbolt_target_display_mode.html

Alternatively you can use VNC for remote control, it's a standard feature of every Mac, but also read what 'maximus5328' writes about setting up the MacMini.
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Author Comment

by:World05
ID: 36565949
but my laptop is an Acer and of course mac mini is a Mac, why i can't use the laptop monitor as a monitor for the mac? i think it would be like if you use the laptop monitor as for projector jobs
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Expert Comment

by:Mac2010
ID: 36566082
Hardware is not that flexible unfortunately. A projector-port is an extension of the same graphics card that controls the laptop built-in-screen. But that graphics card does not operate as 'receiver' for another computer.

So I suggest you find a monitor+keyboard+mouse to set up the MacMini. After basic set up, enable "Screen Sharing" and after that install a VNC client on your Acer laptop. Make sure the MacMini and laptop are connected to the same network for screen sharing.
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Author Comment

by:World05
ID: 36570412
have you ever tried what i'm trying to do?
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Expert Comment

by:Mac2010
ID: 36571871
No, I hate Windows PCs, so I rarely use those, even though I have Windows installed in a virtual machine :)
On Macs you will need hardware and software support to do a thing like you want. With Thunderbolt on two devices it should work but I haven't had a chance yet to test it myself. I'm pretty sure VGA/DVI is a one way street. I never heard about anyone doing this but feel free to prove me wrong...

The VNC (screen sharing) connection will work for sure, I use it all the time.
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Author Comment

by:World05
ID: 36574546
I actually waiting for my mac mini that i purchased from ebay. i'll let you know once i receive it.

1 question about VNC, what about Delay ?? do you feel a delay when you use VNC from another computer to control your mac?
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Author Comment

by:World05
ID: 36580020
Since the mac mini has Wireless capability, can I control it using VNC through the wirless network with the help of my wireless Router?? what do you think
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Expert Comment

by:Mac2010
ID: 36580400
Controlling the Mac Mini via Wi-Fi should work. Provided you enter during set up the correct network info and passwords. In case you need to set up Wi-Fi later, you could do that (use VNC) by connecting the two machines with a ethernet cable. When there is no networked DHCP server, both machines should auto-assign IP addresses from the 169.254.x.x range.

Depending on network speed you could expect some delays. On a stable reasonably fast network the delays should be minor ones. Reducing the screen/monitor size on the Mac Mini will help increasing speed too.
I don't know if you want/like to use command line tools. If you do, terminal-commands will be a lot faster than remote control via VNC but it is material for experienced/advanced Mac OS X users.
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Author Comment

by:World05
ID: 36581789
Hi i dont know about command tool but id like to know about it. My mac mini is an intel i5 2.3 Ghz 8 gb ram, There will be delay on vnc with this config?
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Author Comment

by:World05
ID: 36583178
my main use of mac mini is GNS3
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Assisted Solution

by:Mac2010
Mac2010 earned 250 total points
ID: 36583393
In general a normal functioning network (wireless or wired) should be fast enough to support real time VNC (or similar) connections without too many delays. Sometimes when a proces on the server computer is using a lot of resources, updating the screen image can be delayed a few seconds but usually that doesn't happen much. Typically this happens to me over a weak Wi-Fi connection or a VPN connection over a slow line.

As for the command line, or -prompt or terminal, if you want to use that I suggest you find a Windows program that supports the Bash-shell, SSH connections and Unix in general.

I'm not familiar with GNS3 so I can't advise you with that... But if fast image-updates are really important I suggest you get a good-enough but affordable monitor and cheap keyboard and mouse for when you need it. That's how I run my own test Macs (Mac Minis). I operate them with command line and VNC when I can, and connect the monitor when I have too.
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Author Closing Comment

by:World05
ID: 36583531
thank you all for your valuable information.
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