How to Use MacBook in Clamshell Mode?

macbook clamshell mode

Hello Reader technogigs, are you someone who wants to use your MacBook in clamshell mode? Clamshell mode is a setting on your MacBook that enables you to use your device when it’s closed. It’s an option that MacBook users often use when working on a larger display or using an external keyboard and mouse. In this article, we’ll discuss how to use MacBook in clamshell mode and maximize your MacBook’s capabilities.


Clamshell mode is a popular feature for MacBook users, allowing you to use your MacBook with an external display while keeping your MacBook closed. The feature is available on all MacBook models, and it has its advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll delve into. The clamshell mode offers a convenient and portable way for users to work on their MacBook without worrying about office space or possibly damaging their MacBook.

In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about clamshell mode on your MacBook, including its benefits, how to activate it, how to get the most out of your setup, and any potential concerns that you should consider before using clamshell mode. So, whether you want to connect your MacBook to an external display, take advantage of a more productive setup, or have a lightweight and portable workstation, you’ll need to know how to use MacBook in clamshell mode.

Before we dive deep into how to use MacBook in clamshell mode, it’s important that you understand what Clamshell mode is and what you’ll need to get started.

What is Clamshell Mode?

Clamshell mode on MacBook is a setting that allows you to use your MacBook while it’s closed. By using clamshell mode, you can connect your MacBook to an external display, a keyboard and mouse, and turn it into a desktop workstation, while still enjoying all the benefits of macOS. When in clamshell mode, the device is still on and running, but the MacBook display will turn off, saving battery and reducing potential distractions.

To enable clamshell mode, below are the requirements:

Requirements for Clamshell Mode

Requirements Details
MacBook Model MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro computer
Operating System Mac OS X 10.2 through to macOS 10.15
External Display Any external display that supports HDMI, VGA, or DVI, and a resolution that matches or exceeds your MacBook
Adapter An adapter that matches your MacBook’s ports to the external display
External Power Source If using an external display you’ll need a power source for the external display
Keyboard and Mouse You’ll need a USB or Bluetooth keyboard and Mouse or Trackpad

To fully leverage the benefits of Clamshell Mode, it is best to use a MacBook at home or in the office. So, let’s dive into how to use MacBook in clamshell mode.

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How to Use MacBook in Clamshell Mode:

Before we show you how to use MacBook in clamshell mode, make sure that you have all the required devices available. This includes your MacBook, any external displays you may want to use, a keyboard and mouse or trackpad, and any adapters necessary to connect your MacBook to your external display.

Step 1: Connect Your External Display

The first step to using the MacBook in clamshell mode is connecting your external display to your MacBook. The technology used in your MacBook will determine how you can connect an external display.

If your MacBook has USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports, you’ll need a USB-C to HDMI, VGA, or DVI adapter to connect your external display. Once connected, your MacBook should automatically detect the external display.

Step 2: Connect Your Keyboard and Mouse

Once you’ve connected your external display to your MacBook, the next step is connecting your keyboard and mouse or trackpad. If you’re using a USB keyboard, plug it into a USB slot on your MacBook. If you’re using a wireless keyboard and mouse, connect them via Bluetooth.

Step 3: Power Your External Display

If your external display has a power source, plug it in before you start your MacBook in clamshell mode. By powering the external display, you ensure that it connects and communicates correctly with your MacBook, giving you the best performance.

Step 4: Connect Power to Your MacBook

Connect the power cable to your MacBook to ensure that the device has enough power to run your external display and keyboard/mouse or trackpad. By connecting your MacBook to an external power source, you minimize the chance of running out of battery while using your MacBook in clamshell mode.

Step 5: Close Your MacBook

Once you’ve connected your MacBook to your external display, your keyboard and mouse or trackpad are in place and powered everything up, close the lid of your MacBook. Doing so will put your MacBook into clamshell mode, disable the internal display, and activate the external display, giving you a larger and more visually stunning workstation.

Step 6: Turn On Your MacBook

Now that your MacBook is in clamshell mode and everything is connected properly, press the power button on your MacBook to turn it on. The external display will light up, and you’ll be able to use your MacBook in clamshell mode.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Clamshell Mode

Strengths of Clamshell Mode:

There are several advantages of using a MacBook in clamshell mode, some of which are:

1. Expand Your Workspace:

Clamshell mode allows you to have a larger workspace with multiple screens to display additional windows. This feature will help you increase your productivity if you are working with excessive data.

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2. Save Battery:

When in clamshell mode, your MacBook display will turn off, which will save you battery life and prolong the usage.

3. Ultra-Portable:

Clamshell mode makes your MacBook ultra-portable, easy to move around while making you more productive than a standard desktop. It’s the perfect setup for users who need a mobile workstation.

4. Increases Performance:

If you work with high CPU usage applications, clamshell mode can help with heat management and prevent performance issues. Since your laptop will be connected to external displays, there will be less pressure on your GPU, and your MacBook wouldn’t get as hot.

Weaknesses of Clamshell Mode:

As with any technology, Clamshell mode has its downsides that you should be aware of before using it:

1. Overheating:

If your MacBook’s ventilation and CPU processing are overloaded, it may become prone to overheating issues. Although this is rare, if this happens, there’s a risk of damage to your MacBook.

2. Limited MacBook Access:

When you’re in clamshell mode, you can’t access your MacBook controls, touchpad, and other input features, and it can affect the user experience when working on the go. When using your external display, you’ll need to use a separate mouse and keyboard for control, which can be a challenge if you are used to the built-in controls in your MacBook.

3. Additional Costs:

For clamshell mode to be functional, you’ll need to purchase additional equipment such as an external display, adapter, keyboard, and mouse. The overall cost can be prohibitive for some users.

FAQs About How to Use MacBook in Clamshell Mode:

FAQ 1: Can I still use my MacBook display while in clamshell mode?

No. When in clamshell mode, you can only use the external display and keyboard/mouse or trackpad.

FAQ 2: Can clamshell mode damage my MacBook?

No, clamshell mode will not damage your MacBook as long as you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and do not overheat your MacBook.

FAQ 3: Can I use my MacBook in clamshell mode without external power?

No, because your MacBook will be powering the external display and other connected devices, it’s essential to connect it to a power source for a seamless experience.

FAQ 4: Can clamshell mode improve MacBook performance?

Yes, Clamshell mode can help with heat management and prevent performance issues when working with high CPU usage.

FAQ 5: How do I adjust external display settings in clamshell mode?

You can adjust external display settings by going to System Preferences > Displays or by using the display controls on your external monitor.

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FAQ 6: Can I change the resolution of my external display?

Yes, you can change the resolution of your external display by going to System Preferences > Displays and selecting the resolution that best suits your needs.

FAQ 7: Can clamshell mode affect my MacBook battery?

Clamshell mode can have a positive effect on MacBook battery life, as it saves power by turning off the internal display.

FAQ 8: Can I use clamshell mode with my MacBook Air?

Yes, clamshell mode is functional on all MacBook models.

FAQ 9: Is it possible to switch between clamshell mode and regular mode without turning off my MacBook?

No, clamshell mode needs to restart your MacBook for the display to switch to the external ones fully.

FAQ 10: Can I close the lid of my MacBook in other modes?

You can only close the lid of your MacBook when you use the clamshell mode feature.

FAQ 11: Should I always use an external keyboard to avoid damage to my MacBook when using clamshell mode?

No, it’s not necessary to use an external keyboard if you use clamshell mode; you can still use your MacBook keyboard whenever you want to.

FAQ 12: Can the external display also work as a second, third, or fourth display?

Yes, it’s possible to use an external display as second, third, or fourth displays with clamshell mode by adjusting the settings on your MacBook.

FAQ 13: How do I exit clamshell mode?

To exit clamshell mode, you can either logout from your user account or press the power button on your MacBook to restart your device. Remember, if you’re using an external display, it’s necessary to eject Mac safely from your external display before you exit.


Congratulations, you’ve learned how to use MacBook in clamshell mode successfully! We hope this article has provided you with comprehensive content on how to use MacBook in clamshell mode, its benefits, weaknesses, FAQs, and everything you should know to maximize your MacBook capabilities.

If you’re facing issues or challenges when using MacBook in clamshell mode, consult your MacBook manual, or get assistance from a certified Apple technician. As a disclaimer, you use clamshell mode at your own risk, so it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, guidelines, and recommendations. Clamshell mode is perfect for users looking to leverage multiple displays, external keyboards, and a mouse to work on a larger screen. It’s the perfect setup for multitaskers, Gamers, video editors, and creative professionals who want to work smarter, not harder.

Thank you for reading, and feel free to share this article with your friends who are fellow MacBook users.