Most of the time, the single built-in display of your MacBook Air is adequate, but sometimes we need more screen real estate. When you are working at a desk, it is nice to be able to plug into external monitors to get that extra space and make it easier on your eyes.
Most laptop computers allow you to do this, but how many Monitors can the MacBook Air support? The M1 and M2 MacBook Airs only support one external monitor. While this is unfortunate, there are ways around this using external hardware and software to do the job.
My name is Eric, and as a software engineer, I rely on the ability to connect multiple monitors to my computer. Working from one laptop display can be done, but it is quite difficult in most situations. Because of this, it is vital that I know how many monitors I can connect to my system.
Keep reading below if you want to hear more about how many monitors the MacBook Air supports and discuss ways to get around the limitations of the current systems.
Single External Display Support
As you have read above, the M1 and M2 MacBook Airs can support only one external monitor. While this limits the capabilities of the MacBook Air, remember that it still lets you use two monitors in total: the built-in display and an external one.
Yes, they can still be used at the same time, and for many users, this can be an adequate solution to the need for more screen space. The official Apple specs say that the MacBook Air can support up to one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz.
If this is not adequate for you, don’t lose hope. There are some ways of getting around the M1 and M2’s limitations, and I will discuss that in the next section.
Using Multiple External Displays
If you want a MacBook Air or already have one and multiple external displays are a must for you, there is a way around this. It does require some technical skills and knowledge to get it set up and working, but it can be done relatively quickly using some external hardware and software.
As I mentioned above, to use multiple external displays with your MacBook Air, you must use both third-party software drivers and hardware, such as a multi-display dock. Let’s take a look at each part of this solution.
Third-party Software Driver
A driver is a software application used by your computer to enable certain pieces of hardware to work. The MacBook Air does not have a driver that allows the graphics hardware inside it to use multiple displays, but some third-party drivers can.
So in most cases, you will need to get a software driver to do this. There are a few out there, such as DisplayLink, and when you combine them with a multi-display dock, you can connect multiple monitors to your MacBook Air.
Hardware: Multi-display Dock
Next, you will need the hardware to connect multiple monitors to your system. Many devices exist, such as the UGreen USB-C Triple Display docking station.
Some come with their own drivers, and there is no need to download a third-party driver such as DisplayLink. When you plug the device into your system, it automatically downloads and installs the driver.
The Hyperdrive Dual 4K HDMI 10-in-1 USB-C Hub is one such device that installs and uses drivers made by InstantView. Another display dock that uses InstantView is the Plugable USB-C to Quad HDMI Adapter (USBC-768H4). This is an excellent choice if you want to be able to connect up to 4 external displays!
In any case, several Multi-display docks are available, some requiring you to install the drivers yourself and some that will automatically install them. You can explore this more to determine which will work best for you.
Below are some common questions about how many monitors can be connected to MacBook Air.
Why do MacBook Airs only support one external monitor?
Most feel this is a significant limitation of the M1 and M2 MacBook Airs. The limitation has to do with the design of the M1 and M2 processors and the way that Apple has designed the GPU in the system. It does seem to be a big complaint from many users, and there are rumors that Apple intends to address this in future releases.
Do MacBook Pros have this same limitation?
This depends on the model and processor. The MacBook Pros with the base M1 or M2 chip can only support one external display, but those with the M2 Pro can support two external monitors, and the M2 Max can support up to 4 external monitors.
Is it hard to install a multi-dock display and the required drivers?
It will take a little work, but for the most part, anyone with basic knowledge of how to install software and plug a device into a USB port can do this. If you are cautious about installing the drivers, you will want to look for a dock that contains or downloads its own drivers, such as those from InstantView. With these, the drivers are installed automatically when you plug the dock into your computer.
The M1 and M2 MacBook Air can only support one external monitor with its factory setup. However, if you require more external monitors, you can use third-party software and a multi-display docking station to connect more than one.
I hope the information above has provided you with the information you need about how many monitors the MacBook Air can support. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.