Let’s get straight to the point: you’ve probably never seen or heard of the term “MacBook clamshell mode” before, even if you’re a MacBook user. To put it simply, MacBook’s clamshell mode is a feature that allows you to use your MacBook with its lid closed. In this mode you can connect your MacBook to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, essentially turning it into a desktop computer. In this blog, we demystify MacBook’s clamshell mode and explain how you can use it to your advantage.

What Are The Advantages Of Using A Macbook In Clamshell Mode?

Clamshell mode isn’t just a nifty trick; it also offers various advantages:

  • Maximises Workspace: Clamshell mode frees up desk space by allowing you to close your MacBook while still using it.
  • Enhanced Performance: Your MacBook will primarily use the graphics processing unit (GPU) for the external display, which can improve the performance of graphically intensive tasks.
  • Versatility: Clamshell mode lets you adapt your MacBook for a more ergonomic or a dual-screen setup, depending on your preferences and needs.

What Do You Need To Use A Macbook In Clamshell Mode?

If you want to set up your MacBook in clamshell mode, you will need the following equipment:

  • AC adapter to power your MacBook.
  • Mouse (preferably a Bluetooth one).
  • Keyboard (preferably a Bluetooth one).
  • Supported monitor or projector.
  • VGA/HDMI to USB-C adapter (if your MacBook only has USB-C).

How Do I Activate Clamshell Mode On A Macbook?

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to closing your MacBook to enter clamshell mode so you can use a monitor instead:


  1. Connect the external display to power.
  2. Use your AC adapter to plug in your MacBook.
  3. Using the ports, connect the external display to your Mac. If your MacBook has only USB-C ports, you will need a VGA/HDMI adapter.
  4. Turn on your external display.
  5. Open System Settings, click Displays, and tweak the settings for your external display or monitor.

Set Up Your Accessories:

  1. Switch on Bluetooth connectivity on your MacBook.
  2. If you’re using Bluetooth accessories, like a keyboard, sound system and mouse, ensure they are switched on and visible.
  3. Pair your MacBook with your accessories from the Bluetooth tab in the System Settings menu.

Change Your Power Settings:

  1. In System Settings, open the Displays tab.
  2. Select your monitor’s icon at the top of the window.
  3. Click Advanced in the bottom right and ensure that the ‘Prevent automatic sleeping when the display is off’ toggle is on.
  4. In System Settings, click on Lock Screen from the left pane.
  5. Change the time on ‘Turn display off on power adapter when inactive’ to ‘Never’.

Don’t have any Bluetooth accessories for audio? Choose your sound settings by opening the Control Center in the menu bar and select the audio output device. Before closing your MacBook’s lid, test to see if your display settings are working well. Use screen mirroring to see how your display will behave. Just click the Control Center in the menu bar, select Screen Mirroring and click Mirror Built-In Display.

How Do I Exit Clamshell Mode on MacBook?

Exiting clamshell mode is even more straightforward than entering it. Just open the lid of your MacBook. Your MacBook will then return to its normal display settings, and you can disconnect the peripherals if you like.

Additional Tips on Using the Clamshell Mode

While using your MacBook in clamshell mode, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Ensure your MacBook is on a hard, flat surface to allow for proper ventilation. Ideally, it’s best to use a holder or stand for optimal ventilation and cooling.
  • Regularly check the system’s temperature and performance. If the MacBook gets too hot, switch off clamshell mode and let it cool down.

    Need Help? Contact Red Centre Technology Partners

    Still unsure about using clamshell mode? Don’t stress! At Red Centre Technology Partners, we’re here to guide you through the process. Providing IT solutions for businesses across Alice Springs since 1999, our dedicated team provides personalised solutions for all workspaces. We can help you and your business make the most of your work MacBooks by setting up clamshell mode and complementary accessories.