Use MacBook Air/Pro on Clamshell Mode with Mac OS Lion

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Using a portable Mac with the lid closed is often referred to as clamshell mode, and using clamshell has been easier than ever since the introduction of Mac OS X Lion. There are actually two different methods: the first is for using a closed MacBook lid with or without external input devices attached, and the second is for using clamshell mode with a wireless device such as a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse .

Use a Mac in Clamshell mode with OS X Lion

To get the most out of clamshell mode, you’ll also want to have an external keyboard and mouse, but these are no longer necessary. Here is how to use a MacBook Pro / Air with the lid closed in OS X Lion with or without external input devices attached:

  • Connect the power adapter to the MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air
  • With an external display connected to the Mac, close the lid

The screen will momentarily flash blue, then the external monitor will refresh and automatically set as the primary display, moving your desktop, menu bar, and all other windows to the attached screen.

Use clamshell mode in OS X Lion with a wireless keyboard and mouse

The requirements for using a MacBook in clamshell with a wireless keyboard and mouse are basically the same, although you will need to configure an additional option in System Preferences. First, you need to make sure the Bluetooth device is paired with the Mac (if you’re already using a wireless input device, this is the case), then proceed:

  • Launch System Preferences and click on the “Bluetooth” window
  • Click on “Advanced” in the lower right corner
  • Check the box next to ‘Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer’
  • Bluetooth wake up from sleep mode

  • Now connect the external monitor
  • Close the MacBook Air, the lid of MacBook Pro

If you want to get around the physical hardware connectivity requirements, use the NoSleep tool we mentioned recently, which allows you to run the Mac closed with no hardware attached.

In general, using clamshell since OS X 10.7 has been a lot easier than it has been with earlier versions of Mac OS X, when you had to reboot or get out of hibernation with an external display and mouse connected.

Thanks to Matt for the tip

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