Target display mode iMac -> MacBook Pro 2011 with Thunderbolt

This was not as easy as it seemed. A checklist to get target display mode working:

  1. Make sure both your iMac and your Macbook Pro are equipped with Thunderbolt. It only works Thunderbolt -> Thunderbolt or Display port -> Display port, no mix allowed.
  2. Make sure you are using a Thunderbolt cable, display port cables won’t work for newer models equipped with TB.
  3. Make sure the cable on iMac’s side is turned the right way (you can insert it upside down into the iMac but not into Macbook Pro!).
  4. Make sure you are using a Mac keyboard, a PC keyboard will not work, even if remapped. Use the small Bluetooth keyboard provided with your iMac.
  5. Press Command-F2 on your iMac’s keyboard. If your function keys are not used as “standard function keys” (can be set in Settings / Keyboard) – use Command-Fn-F2.

When in target display mode you can adjust the brightness of your iMac’s screen by pressing F1/F2 on the iMac’s keyboard. To go back to regular mode press Command-F2 again.

Good luck!

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4 Responses to Target display mode iMac -> MacBook Pro 2011 with Thunderbolt

  1. dab says:

    I got mine working with a MBP, but for some reason the only way i can get the imac to come back is by completely unplugging the TB cable. Have you seen anything like that? I’ve tried the basics like PRAM but no luck 🙁 would really like to be able to switch back and forth more gracefully.

  2. Esteban Ochoa says:

    It’s because your iMac it’s locked, type your password and you should be good to go.

  3. Rachel says:

    I have a 2010 iMac –everything is up to date, using the bluetooth keyboard. Connected it to my 2014 Macbook Pro with lightening bolt to lightening bolt. Both computers are awake and logged in. Command F2 just makes the error noise and nothing happens.

    I have tried switching ends, everything…

    Anything else I can try?

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