Connecting two Apple Thunderbolt Displays to MacBook Pro

Posted:
in General Discussion
I have a Late 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Ports are USB-C/Thunderbolt 3.

I have one free port to which I'd like to connect two Apple Thunderbolt Displays, but I don't know how I'd hook them up without tying up two ports on the Mac.

Can anyone suggest a way, perhaps using any of the commonly available Thunderbolt 3 docks (or some other peripheral I'm not aware of) to feed both ATB Displays from a single USB-C port? All the docks I've seen have only a single "downstream" Thunderbolt port, and the ATB Display doesn't support daisy-chaining.

Thanks for your ideas and suggestions!

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,357administrator
    It does work. Get the TB3 to TB2 adapter, and daisy chain the monitors off each other. The Thunderbolt display won't daisy-chain a DisplayPort monitor (the cinema display), but it will chain to another TB2 display. This is basically how dual-display Thunderbolt 3 docks drive a pair of 4K displays from one port.

    You may be confusing it with DisplayPort daisy chaining, which macOS does not support.

    edited October 2018 lorin schultz
  • Reply 2 of 9
    It does work. Get the TB3 to TB2 adapter, and daisy chain the monitors off each other. The Thunderbolt display won't daisy-chain a DisplayPort monitor (the cinema display), but it will chain to another TB2 display. This is basically how dual-display Thunderbolt 3 docks drive a pair of 4K displays from one port.

    You may be confusing it with DisplayPort daisy chaining, which macOS does not support.

    Mac doesn't support DisplayPort daisy-chaining? Dammit! That was Plan B!

    I don't get how I would daisy-chain two Apple Thunderbolt Displays. They have only one Thunderbolt port. How do I get signal out of the first monitor and into the second?
  • Reply 3 of 9
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,357administrator
    It does work. Get the TB3 to TB2 adapter, and daisy chain the monitors off each other. The Thunderbolt display won't daisy-chain a DisplayPort monitor (the cinema display), but it will chain to another TB2 display. This is basically how dual-display Thunderbolt 3 docks drive a pair of 4K displays from one port.

    You may be confusing it with DisplayPort daisy chaining, which macOS does not support.

    Mac doesn't support DisplayPort daisy-chaining? Dammit! That was Plan B!

    I don't get how I would daisy-chain two Apple Thunderbolt Displays. They have only one Thunderbolt port. How do I get signal out of the first monitor and into the second?
    I'm a little confused? What about the TB2 cable near the power plug?
    edited October 2018
  • Reply 4 of 9
    D'oh! I didn't realize there's a combo MagSafe/TB2 cable hanging off the back of the monitor! I get it now. Computer to adaptor, adaptor to combo cable on monitor one, Thunderbolt port on monitor one to combo cable from monitor two. Is that right?
  • Reply 5 of 9
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,357administrator
    D'oh! I didn't realize there's a combo MagSafe/TB2 cable hanging off the back of the monitor! I get it now. Computer to adaptor, adaptor to combo cable on monitor one, Thunderbolt port on monitor one to combo cable from monitor two. Is that right?
    Yup.
  • Reply 6 of 9
    New issue: the cables on the Apple Thunderbolt Display are too short. The cable coming out of Monitor 2 will not reach the port on the back of Monitor 1. @#$%&!!!

    Some of the docks I'm looking at have a DisplayPort output. Can that be used to drive a Thunderbolt Display? Google is bringing up conflicting answers. I'm not concerned about the hub/ports on the display working, I won't be using them. All I care about is getting the output from a MacBook Pro USB-C/TB3 port to feed two Thunderbolt Displays. A hub would give me a downstream Thunderbolt port for one monitor, I just need to figure out how to attach the second. If it can be DisplayPort, I'm set. If not, I'm open to other suggestions.

    Related question: Has anyone found a Thunderbolt 3 dock with more than two Thunderbolt ports?
    edited October 2018
  • Reply 7 of 9
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,357administrator
    New issue: the cables on the Apple Thunderbolt Display are too short. The cable coming out of Monitor 2 will not reach the port on the back of Monitor 1. @#$%&!!!

    Some of the docks I'm looking at have a DisplayPort output. Can that be used to drive a Thunderbolt Display? Google is bringing up conflicting answers. I'm not concerned about the hub/ports on the display working, I won't be using them. All I care about is getting the output from a MacBook Pro USB-C/TB3 port to feed two Thunderbolt Displays. A hub would give me a downstream Thunderbolt port for one monitor, I just need to figure out how to attach the second. If it can be DisplayPort, I'm set. If not, I'm open to other suggestions.

    Related question: Has anyone found a Thunderbolt 3 dock with more than two Thunderbolt ports?
    This is specifically not allowed by the spec.

    Also, just use a longer, discrete Thunderbolt cable from the primary monitor to the female Thunderbolt port on the monitor. You don't HAVE to use the attached cable for the display input, either will do.
    edited October 2018 lorin schultz
  • Reply 8 of 9
    Also, just use a longer, discrete Thunderbolt cable from the primary monitor to the female Thunderbolt port on the monitor. You don't HAVE to use the attached cable for the display input, either will do.
    There is no issue too simple for me to find a way to overcomplicate it! Thanks again, Mike. Again.

    Just out of curiosity, do you happen to know if the Thunderbolt input on the Apple display will accept a DisplayPort signal? I read several threads on various forums, including Apple's own community pages, and some users say yes while others say no.

    Also, has your choice of recommended Thunderbolt 3 cable changed since you published your article on the confusion surrounding cables with USB-C connectors? It's surprising how few product listings indicate how much current a particular cable will carry.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,357administrator
    Also, just use a longer, discrete Thunderbolt cable from the primary monitor to the female Thunderbolt port on the monitor. You don't HAVE to use the attached cable for the display input, either will do.
    There is no issue too simple for me to find a way to overcomplicate it! Thanks again, Mike. Again.

    Just out of curiosity, do you happen to know if the Thunderbolt input on the Apple display will accept a DisplayPort signal? I read several threads on various forums, including Apple's own community pages, and some users say yes while others say no.

    Also, has your choice of recommended Thunderbolt 3 cable changed since you published your article on the confusion surrounding cables with USB-C connectors? It's surprising how few product listings indicate how much current a particular cable will carry.
    The former, I have no idea. I don't think so, though.

    The latter: I haven't checked the specific links in that article for about 60 days, but as of 60 days ago, the recommendations stand.
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