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Model A1311 / Mid 2010 / 3.06 & 3.2 GHz Core i3 or 3.6 GHz Core i5 Processor

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How to use iMac only with external monitor

Hello excellent iFixit community,

I recently diagnosed a client's iMac as having a failed LCD panel. I mentioned to him he could use it only with an external display, and he accepted this solution, at which point I disconnected the LVDS cable, backlight power cable, and V-SYNC cable. I left the LCD temperature sensor cable connected.

This setup worked for me in the shop with an external, but apparently didn't work for him when he took it home and tried it several weeks later.

He brought it back into our shop, and I confirmed my external display no longer showed an image - either during boot or at the user login screen, even after resetting PRAM and the SMC. I opened it up, connected the VSYNC cable for the heck of it, and the external worked - it displayed the boot screen.


I disconnected the VSYNC, and tried again. The external monitor still worked - even though this was exactly the same configuration that didn't work 5 minutes before.

Was I wrong to suggest that disconnecting his internal display would provide a reliable solution? If not, does anyone understand what's going on?

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Why don't you leave the connections active?

I suspect the lack of power while in transit is the cause here.

Update (10/17/2016)

While you can run the system with the internal display disconnected for diagnostics. I've never tried running a system like what you are doing here. Is finding a workable LCD screen that costly?

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You may have misunderstood my post. The client has a failed LCD and opted not to replace it, but wants to continue using his machine with an external display.

In my experience, externals displays don't show an image until the system's booted to the user login screen. Since I'd noticed that disconnecting the internal display forces the system to display even the boot sequence on the external, I suggested this to the customer.

However, my results have been mixed, so I was asking for other experienced techs' advice.


No, I followed you here. The focus was on the aesthetics of having the internal screen not active during the boot up Vs the external.


We're a pretty down-to-earth (sometimes crunchy-granola-y) shop and offer low- or no-cost solutions as an option when we think they would address the customer's needs. I'd offered this as a no-cost/no-repair solution to the customer... but if it doesn't work reliably, then it's definitely not a solution.


Thats fine ;-} Cheap is good! Sadly, I don't know of any way around this.


I realize this is old, but I figured I would comment in case anyone else is running across this. Just like Dan said, there is no way to force the secondary monitor to act as the primary on startup while the internal display cable is still connected.

Disconnecting the internal display cable is a reliable way to force the secondary monitor, but I would strongly suggest taping the pins on the display cable with electrostatic tape to be safe.


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Maybe we're talking about something different , I'm typing this text on an imac with a dead lcd screen and plugged into my 28 inch Asus monitor...I don't reset it everytime, works just fine this way until I replace the Lcd display... I use a mini display port to HDMI... It's a quick fix for anyone who loses their display at a bad time.

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Use command +F1 to boot to external display on start up.... Four out of five voices agree.

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Sorry guy that only sets the external monitor into Mirror mode on what the internal is displaying. Every time you restart the system you would need to reset it.

Here's a full listing of all of the keyboard short cuts you can use: Keyboard shortcuts


I have tried it. Use it specifically at logging in, not upon booting or starting up (it doesn't work then).

It works fine: once you see the background screen, if you don't have the log-in screen on your external monitor, you just hit <command>-F1 for mirroring. I am happy with that solution. Even though my internal LCD is 5K retina, I have tested it OK with FHD external monitor. Computer: late 2014 iMac retina 27".

I am trying this solution just in case I break my LCD when I have to replace my internal HDD that went bad. Too bad apple thought thin edges was important.


Update: For some reason, this only works with an APPLE keyboard. I typically use an external MS keyboard. I can see, using the apple keyboard viewer, that I am generating <command>-F1, but it does not generate the screen-mirroring toggle that the same combination produces on the apple keyboard. On the apple keyboard, the key sequence never makes it to the keyboard viewer; rather it is intercepted and changes the screen mirroring before the keyboard viewer sees it.


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