For some Mac users, one of the frustrating things about about the new Apple Silicon M1 Macs is that you can’t connect more than one external monitor to them natively.
Can Apple M1 Macs Support 2 Monitors?
Currently, the M1 chip MacBook Air and MacBook Pro only allow you to connect one external monitor.
The M1 Mac Mini however already allows you to connect two external monitors – one via HDMI and one via USB-C (also known as Thunderbolt ports).
However, here we show you how to connect multiple external monitors to an M1 MacBook or Mac Mini using a thunderbolt hub or docking station and a simple driver.
The following methods allow you to use multiple external displays with your Mac Mini and MacBook including in Clamshell mode (meaning with the lid closed on your MacBook).
How To Connect Multiple Monitors To M1 Macs
There are two ways to connect more than one monitor to an M1 MacBook or more than two monitors to a Mac Mini:
- Thunderbolt Hub
This allows you to connect multiple thunderbolt devices to your M1 Mac such as 4K monitors. We strongly recommend going for a Thunderbolt Hub to connect multiple devices to an M1 Mac because there are far less issues connecting Thunderbolt devices as there with other types of ports. Thunderbolt connections also offer the highest data transfer speeds whether it’s a 4K monitor you’re connecting or an external hard drive. For the best M1 Mac compatibility, we recommend the excellent OWC Thunderbolt Hub. This adds an extra 3 Thunderbolt ports to your M1 Mac plus one extra super fast 10GB/s USB port.
- Features 14 Ports of connectivity: USB 3.1 Gen 2 / Gen 1 + Thunderbolt 3 + microSD Reader + SD Reader + mini DisplayPort + Gigabit Ethernet + S/PDIF + Combo Audio I/O
- Multi-display support: Up to dual 4K or a single 5K, an onboard mini DisplayPort connection plus the ability to use the secondary Thunderbolt 3 port for a display allows the dock to support two displays at up to 4K resolution or a single 5K display
- 85W Notebook charging: Host Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) connection powers and charges notebook computers with up to 85W power; 2 High-Powered USB Type-A ports deliver 5Gb/s speed and up to 7.5W power to additional devices.
- Import Fast: Up to 312MB/s, SD 4.0 spec SD and microSD card reader slots to copy photos & movies from your media cards; Hybrid Analog Audio In/Out: Connect headphones, combo headphones with mic, external speakers, standalone mics and other audio equipment; S/PDIF Optical Audio Port: Pro-grade digital audio output for enhanced audio performance
- INCLUDES: OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, 0.5m (18") Thunderbolt 3 cable, External power supply and power cable, Quick Start Guide, 2 Year OWC Limited Warranty
Note that at the moment, Amazon only stocks the OWC Thunderbolt 3 hub. Other World Computing (OWC) also stocks the faster Thunderbolt 4 hub although it’s frequently out of stock.
The great thing about the OWC Thunderbolt hub is that it delivers up to twice as fast transfer rates than connecting a Thunderbolt device to your M1 Mac directly.
M1 Macs can deliver a maximum transfer speed of 5GB per second via it’s Thunderbolt 4 ports but the OWC Thunderbolt hub can deliver speeds of up to 10GB per second.
This is because the OWC Thunderbolt 4 hub has its own controllers which can manage faster speeds than the Thunderbolt controllers in your M1 Mac.
It’s important however to use the specific Thunderbolt 4 cables that come with the OWC Thunderbolt hub otherwise you won’t get as fast transfer speeds with just a generic cable.
- Docking Station
Alternatively, you can use a docking station which allows you to connect a wider range of devices to your M1 Mac including Thunderbolt, Ethernet, DisplayPort, SD cards etc. There are a few on the market that work with M1 Macs but we recommend either the Plugable UD-ULTC4K Triple Display 4K Docking Station or the Caldigit TS3 Plus dock. However, these are trickier to setup than thunderbolt hubs and are prone to more connectivity issues.
- TRIPLE 4K DISPLAY DOCK - With a compatible USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 Mac or Windows laptop, or Windows tablet, this dock can charge your device, connect up to 3 monitors, add a Gigabit Ethernet connection, add 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, and add multiple USB ports
- HDMI AND DISPLAYPORT - This dock features 3 video outputs including 1x HDMI 1.4 output capable of 4K 30Hz, and 2x DisplayPort 1.2 (DP++) outputs capable of 4K 60Hz. Video adapters (not included) can convert DisplayPort to VGA, single-link DVI, or HDMI
- USB-C FEATURES - USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports can enable features such as USB Alternate Mode (Alt Mode) and USB Power Delivery (PD) charging. Support for these features is determined by your computer manufacturer. See product description for details
- IMPORTANT NOTES - The full product description has important info regarding requirements and limitations of this dock. USB-C required. Not all devices support all features. No HDCP support. Supports Intel and M1 Macs (macOS 10.14+ with driver installation)
- 2 YEAR WARRANTY - We love our Plugable products, and hope you will too. All of our products are backed with a 2-year limited parts and labor warranty as well as Seattle-based email support
M1 Mac Monitor Drivers
Whichever of the above devices you use, you need to also download and install a driver to enable your M1 Mac to communicate with multiple monitors.
You can do this by downloading and installing the DisplayLink Driver which works with macOS Catalina and Big Sur.