Thunderbolt Monitor Connectivity

in Genius Bar edited January 2014

Hi everyone;



I'm planning on making some changes to how I use my Mac at home, and need some help with a question I have with the Thunderbolt display.


My plan is to sell my iMac, buy a Thunderbolt display, and use that with a Mac Mini I have.  For the sake of making my desk look neat and tidy, I'm going to mount the Mac Mini underneath the desk using one of these nifty mounts:


The thing is, I'm going to also want to use the display to plug into my Macbook Pro for when I work from home, so ideally would like to keep the Thunderbolt & Power cable that's "built-in" to the display on the top of the desk, so that I don't have to pull cables from below the desk to above when I want to plug in the Macbook.


So, the question is, can I plug the Mac Mini into the Thunderbolt port, that is on the Thunderbolt display and have that work, or do I have to plug the Thunderbolt cable into the Mac Mini?




  • Reply 1 of 8
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    umm, 2 TB cables ?
    One from Mac mini - one from Mbp.
    Swap them at the display
  • Reply 2 of 8

    No, I know I can swap them at the display, but I don't know that plugging a TB cable into the display will make it work!


    What I'm getting at is, there is a cable that comes out of the back of the display.  I plug it into the TB port of a Mac, and it displays.

    The question is, if I ignore the cable that comes out the back of the display, and instead use a Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable and plug one end into the Thunderbolt port on the Mac, and the other end into the Thunderbolt port on the display, will the display work?


    Your point is completely valid, but assuming I can connect the TB port on a Mac to the TB port on the display, and have it work.

    You get my point?

  • Reply 3 of 8
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    Yes it will work.
    I think you may be over thinking this. /polite tag

    The TB display is also a docking station. Has firewire 800, Ethernet, USB ports. All that data flow is handled over the TB link to a computer.

    edit: I got my wife a MBA - she uses a big monitor at home so we had to buy a TB to hdmi adapter. I also hard wired the MBA to Ethernet using a USB to Ethernet adapter. IF I had bought her a TB display I would have used the single TB cable to connect the MBA to the TB display and hooked the Ethernet into the display. Make sense ?
  • Reply 4 of 8

    Yeah, I get that.  I have two TB displays at the office, and connect all my external drives and ethernet to the ports on the back of the Thunderbolt displays.


    Then the cable out the back of TB display 1 plugs into the port on TB display 2, then the cable out the back of TB display 2 plugs into the Macbook Pro.


    As if by magic, with that setup, I have two displays daisy chained together, driven by one Mac and the Mac has all the external drives etc. available to it.  It is brilliant!


    What my setup at work tells me is that it's OK to use the TB port of one TB display as an output to drive the other display, what I didn't know was whether or not the same TB port on the display can be used as an input, to drive the display.  Right now, the only input to the displays I have is through the cable that is part of the display, not through the spare TB port.


    I was reasonably sure that what I'm wanting to do would work, but I didn't know for sure.

  • Reply 5 of 8
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    Ok - the only gotcha is you will have to power off whichever machine you're not using. You can't have say, the mini asleep and then plug the MBP in.
    There is no choice or button to switch between input sources like on a tv.
    The display defaults to the last active connection.
    The answer to this would be a TB KVM switch but I don't know of any out there at the moment.
  • Reply 6 of 8

    Yes, I thought that would be the case, and that's actually fine by me, since I'm a fiend for making sure everything is turned off when I'm not using it.  I'll also want to have one wireless keyboard and trackpad that I'll use for both the Mini and the MBP, so it'll be easier to make sure I only have one switched on at a time, to make sure there is no conflict with which Mac is connected to the wireless devices at a time.


    Thanks for your help.  Seems like the setup I'm planning on using is going to work fine.

  • Reply 7 of 8
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    ahh - found this.
    Uses mini DP - pretty cool
    NOT compatible with the TB display, unfortunately :-(

    If they bring out a TB switch sometime in the future - you'd be golden.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    Originally Posted by RobM View Post

    ahh - found this.

    Uses mini DP - pretty cool

    NOT compatible with the TB display, unfortunately :-(

    If they bring out a TB switch sometime in the future - you'd be golden.


    Yeah, that would be neat.


    Thanks for all your help and advice here.  I really appreciate it.

Sign In or Register to comment.