How to Connect a Macbook to an iMac

This ementes teaches you how to set up your iMac as a monitor for your MacBook, as well as how to share files and printers between the two computers.

Method 1 Using your iMac as a Monitor

1. Determine the cable you’ll need for your iMac. The type of cable you’ll need varies by model:

iMac 27-inch (2009): Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable.

iMac 27-inch (2010): Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable.

iMac (2011- early 2014): Thunderbolt cable.

iMac models from late 2014 (the Retina 5k model) and later can’t be used as displays.

2. Locate the charging port on your MacBook. You won’t need to buy an adapter if both the MacBook and the iMac have the same port (Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt). You’ll need a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter if your MacBook has a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port.

To learn how to identify your ports, consult Apple’s Mac port guide.

3. Switch on both computers. You should log in to both computers right now if you haven’t already.

4. Connect both computers using the Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt cable.

5. Press ⌘ Command+2 on the iMac. The iMac’s display will now show the MacBook’s screen instead of its own.

Method 2 Sharing Files Between Computers

1. Join the same wireless network with both Macs. If you do not have a wireless network, an Ethernet cable can be used instead (just connect the cable to an Ethernet port on both computers, and then move to the next step). To connect both computers to Wi-Fi, follow these steps:

If you see near the top-right corner of the screen, click it, and then select Turn Wi-Fi On.

Click at the top-right corner of the screen.

Select a network.

Enter the password and click Join.

2. On the computer with something to share, go to the menu. It is located in the upper-left corner of the screen.

3. Click System Preferences.

4. Click Sharing. A list of sharing services will appear.

5. Set up file sharing. Here’s how to allow users of the other computer to access the files on this one:

Click File Sharing.

Click + under the folder list.

Select a folder and click Add.

Anyone with account on this Mac can access it from the other computer. If you want to restrict access to certain users, select the folder, click + under the user list, then select who should have access.

You can add users with local accounts (regular logins you set up on this Mac) or by Apple ID by selecting them from your contacts.

Make note of the IP address on the Sharing screen. It should look like ″afp://″ or ″smb://″.

6. On the other computer, launch Finder. It will be the first icon on the Dock, which is typically located at the bottom of the screen.

7. Click the Go menu. It’s at the top of the screen.

8. Click Connect to Server.

9. Enter the other computer’s IP address. This is the address you discovered on the Sharing screen of the other computer.

10. Click Connect.

11. Choose how to connect.

Select Registered User if you want to log into a local account on the other computer.

Select Apple ID to log in that way.

Select Guest if the files don’t require a login.

12. To log in, follow the on-screen instructions. You can access the other computer’s files once you’ve connected to it.

13. Configure printer sharing (optional). Return to the Sharing settings, click Printer Sharing, and select a printer if you want to share the printer from this computer. After you’ve shared it, you can print to it from any app on the other computer by selecting the printer (and logging in, if prompted to do so).

By default, anyone with an account on this computer can print. Click + under the user list to select specific users, then select who should be allowed to print.

14. Set up additional types of sharing (optional). If you want users of the other computer to be able to connect to this one for remote administration or screen sharing, select one of those options from the list and then follow the same steps as you did for file and printer sharing.

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