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How to use iMac as a PC monitor

How to use iMac as a PC monitor

iMac as a PC monitor

The iMac features one of the best displays on the market and, if you're lucky to have a 4K retina monitor, the retina screen will likely make your workflow more enjoyable, especially if you have to do a graphic or CAD job. Maybe you don't know that you can use your computer in "Target monitor mode”To connect a MacBook with an iMac from late 2009 or mid 2010. Use iMac as a possible PC monitor, but under certain conditions that we have explained in this guide.

can i use iMac as a PC monitor?

The answer immediately, yes, you can use iMac as a PC monitor. However, a compatible iMac and PC are required, as well as a special cable / adapter. This article will provide detailed guidance on how to do this, as well as an overview of the tools needed to connect. Without further ado, we immediately enter the merits.


The first thing you need to do is to check if your iMac can be used as a secondary monitor. Take a look at the doors and if your iMac has a door Thunderbolt or Mini Display Port, then it can be used as a monitor. However, things may not be that simple, so take a look at the compatible models.

  • 27-inch IMac of late 2009 and mid 2010 with Mini Display port
  • IMac of mid 2011 and 2014 with Thunderbolt port
ports to connect iMac as PC monitor

Other models until the end of 2014 could also be used as a secondary display. However, the iMac retina 5K at the end of 2014 does not offer the usability of the Target monitor mode. As for the other requirements, A PC with a Mini Display or Thunderbolt port is also required.

If your PC doesn't have these ports, you can use an HDMI or Display Port with the right adapter. For example, you can use an HDMI to Mini display adapter or Mini display to display adapter. Of course, Mini Display, Thunderbolt or HDMI cable is also required.

Configuration to use iMac as a PC monitor

Turn off your iMac and PC and connect the cable to the Thunderbolt, HDMI or Display port on your Windows laptop or desktop. Then connect the cable to the Thunderbolt or Mini Display port on the iMac.

pc ports to connect imac

Note: if an adapter is used, first connect the cable to the adapter, then insert the male end into the Mini Display / Thunderbolt port on the iMac.

Turn on both iMac and PC and hold down Cmd + F2 or Cmd + Fn + F2 on the iMac keyboard to activate the Target monitor mode. In seconds, you should be able to see your PC screen on the iMac.

Screen resolution problems

In general, the setting of the video output 2560 x 1440 on the PC should match the screen resolution of an old iMac (2009, 2010, 2011 and some 2014 models). However, in 2014 Apple introduced a 4K retina display. These iMacs have a native resolution of 5120 x 2880 which may be difficult to pair with if using a laptop. In addition, the Target monitor mode may not be available on your iMac.

If you want to check the resolution of iMac, click on Apple logo in the taskbar, select "About this Mac”And choose the card Display.

imac compatibility

Note: the screenshot was taken on an iMac at the end of 2015 just to exemplify the previous explanation.

iMac as a second display

Regardless of the iMac model in use, this can be used as a second screen for the PC. In other words, you can mirror the PC display on an iMac even if the last 5K. But you should know that iMac must be running Windows 10 Home or Pro for the connection to work.

We will not delve into technicalities about running Windows on a Mac, because that topic deserves an article in its own right. Suffice it to say that there is a way to run Windows and macOS on the same computer. If you don't know how to do it, I suggest you read the following guide:

Step 1Make sure iMac is started in Windows and connected to the same network as your PC. It doesn't matter if it's Ethernet or Wi-Fi, although Ethernet tends to be more stable.

Go to Settings Windows (on iMac), choose System and select "Projection on this PC”From the menu bar on the left.

projection on this pc

Step 2In "Projection on this PC", Click on the first drop-down menu and choose"Available everywhere". Select β€œOnly the first time"In"Ask to project on this PC". "Require PIN for association" is not necessary, you can deactivate the option.

At the bottom of the window, make sure to name your computer, especially if you have multiple computers at home.

Step 3Switch to PC and log in Notification Center in the lower right corner. Select the tile projects and choose "Connect to wireless screen". The PC searches for available displays and the iMac should appear in the results. Click iMac and your PC screen flashes as it adds another display to the system.

connect to wireless screen

Step 4You may need to log in Screen settings and change the resolution so that it looks the same on both computers. For example, if you are mirroring on a 5K iMac, the resolution of 2560 x 1440 should work correctly, but it depends on the exact model of iMac and PC you are using.

iMac and PC: a happy marriage?

If you have the right devices and cables / adapters, use an iMac as a fairly simple PC monitor. For those who are confused by the iMac release years and specs, the thin ones usually don't have the sharing view mode.