MacBook can work in lid-closed mode without a mouse and keyboard

Right, enough of the metablogging, time for some actual content around here.

I got a MacBook a few weeks ago and I've been using it connected to my TV with Apple's mini-DVI to video adapter to watch movies. Having the laptop open next to the TV, with display mirroring turned on (so I can use Front Row) can get a little annoying. The movie you're watching appears both on the MacBook's screen and on the TV. Distracting.

Yes, there are a few ways around this. You can turn down the brightness on the MacBook's display all the way to the bottom, so the display turns off. But that's a bit fiddly. You could just turn the MacBook around so the screen is facing away from you, but then the remote doesn't work very well. What would be really nice is if you could simply close the MacBook and carry on watching your movie on the TV.

The MacBook is quite capable of running in lid-closed mode. But according to Apple, you'll need a keyboard and mouse - either USB or Bluetooth. Well, it turns out Apple are dirty stinkin' liars.

Don't forget your MacBook will need to be connected to mains power for this to work. You can't run in lid-closed mode on battery power.

  1. Plug in your mini-DVI to video adapter and connect it up to your TV. Set your TV to the correct channel (if necessary).
  2. If it's in extended-desktop mode, set your MacBook to video-mirroring mode (using either F7 or Fn-F7 depending on your settings). The resolution will change on your main display to match the maximum resolution of your TV and you'll see the same image on both displays.
  3. Close your MacBook. It will enter Sleep mode, and the picture on your TV will disappear.
  4. Here's the clever part. Press any button on your Apple Remote. Hey presto, your MacBook will wake up and the image on your TV will re-appear. Press your Menu button to bring up Front Row and start watching movies!
I would imagine this works just as well with the MacBook Pro too.

[UPDATE] Once you've set the MacBook to the correct display mirroring settings, you don't even need to have it open (and awake) to connect up the cables. Just plug in the display connector cable with the lid closed, then hit a button on your remote.

[UPDATE 2] I now have a new TV with a DVI port, so I bought a Mini-DVI to DVI adapter.  I can confirm that all these tips work just as well with that.


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