Help with WFH desk setup - looking for suggestions

Hi MPU. I have long admired this community and now have transitioned from lurking to posting!

I’m hoping you can help me. I’m WFH more frequently and my current setup isn’t cutting it. I can’t take the small screens and neck strain anymore. Current setup is 2018 MacBook Air 13-inch on a laptop stand and a work 13-inch HP laptop.

Unfortunately, my place is small so my desk is located in a front room which doubles as a dining room. I have tried to keep my setup simple and resisted an external display because I didn’t want the room to look like an office. Although I’d like to keep things looking minimal and clean, I’m starting to realise that I need a more functional working space.

Initially I considered getting a 16-inch MacBook Pro once the new ones are released but I’m wondering if that will be big enough? Should I go down the external display route and, if so, do you have recommendations for ones that are sleek and slim? I have considered an iMac but I’d like to have the option of portability. Also, are there ways of being able to easily switch which laptop (work and personal) is connected to the display?

So basically options include:

  • Upgrade to 16-inch MacBook Pro for bigger screen
  • Purchase external display
  • Get iMac and use iPad or MacBook Air for travel
  • Other options I haven’t considered?

Really appreciate any insights or suggestions you might have!

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Welcome. If you can enable remote connections on your Windows laptop you can run both computers from your Mac. If that isn’t possible most displays have multiple connections that can be selected as needed. 2 hdmi ports, hdmi and display port, etc. And then there are kvm switches. At some point you may end up needing more room.

Are the screens on your laptops large enough to work on comfortably? If so, would placing both laptops on stands, each connected to a space saving keyboard be an improvement?

I opted for the iMac + MBA approach. I’m retired so my computer needs while traveling are minimal. An older Air works great. My iPad covers most of my portable needs but occasionally I need the Mac. On a recent 3 week trip I only used the Air twice.

Do you use both the Mac and PC for work and at the same time? One way to get more screen real estate is to use the laptops in clamshell mode attached to a single monitor. Frees up a lot of desk space. I used to run my Air that way with a vertical stand I made.

Unfortunately, not. I’m finding that the 13-inch displays aren’t big enough for me nowadays. I like your idea of placing both laptops on stands and that way they’ll be the same height. KVM switch is new to me, so I’ll look into that!

Yes, I use both at the same time regularly. Usually MacBook Air has a Zoom meeting running (so I can use AirPods) and then the work laptop has other windows open that I need to refer to. Great idea about clamshell mode to save space. If I go external display route, I can always have the work laptop closed in clamshell mode.

I’m in a similar situation and my “workspace” is also the dining table. I posted a similar thread and there are two pictures there. I opted for a stand for my 13" MBP and use the iPad as a second monitor. I can tuck the keyboard and trackpad under the stand, fold up the iPad, and put the whole thing away when work is done. The stand has helped with neck strain (but not with slouching as I’m totally doing right now).

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It’s expensive and would only work if you have the right wall and desk for it, but I love my Samsung “Space Monitor.”

I imagine, in a dining room, you might be able to put it against a wall or lean it on the desk such that it looked like a picture frame. Then, with a good screen saver, it might look alright.

Probably not your solution, but it’s an option!


Thanks for sharing. I love the look of that, but I don’t think my desk is compatible. I wish there were more displays with better designs on the market. The search continues…

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The Space Monitor has a feature that some others (such as my LG) have, which is displaying two sources beside each other. This might be something to look for for your two laptop setup.


Wow, that Space Monitor is super cool. First time I’ve heard of it. I kind of wish Apple would offer something similar in a VESA mount form factor for their monitors. Missed opportunity with the XDR.


It is really well designed! In practice I don’t actually manipulate it that much, but it is a great display otherwise (and I love the minimal bezels).


Ok, I’ve upgraded my setup MPU-style. I gave this further thought and by trying to be ‘minimalist’ with a laptop-only setup, I ignored other options. Turns out that a Mac mini paired with my work laptop connected to an external display is the right setup for me at this point in time. Here’s the new setup:

Item Specification
Desk Mesa 57 desk
Desk Shelf Oakywood Dual Monitor Stand
Chair Herman Miller Cosm Chair
Monitor BenQ 27 inch 4K UHD Thunderbolt 3 Monitor
Computer Mac mini M1
Deskmat Oakywood Felt & Cork Desk Mat
Desk Lighting BenQ WiT e-Reading Lamp, Phillips Hue Lightstrip
Keyboard Logitech MX Keys for Mac
Mice Logitech MX Master 3 for Mac, Apple Magic Trackpad
Speakers HomePod mini stereo pair, Jabra Speak 510
Webcam Reincubate Camo using a gooseneck mount
Decor Artifact Uprising Wood Block, Oakywood Catchall Tray, polished garnet
Other Belkin’s 3-in-1 Boost Charger, Ugmonk Analog

Finally feel like I have the setup I always wanted! Now to get to work…


very impressive, looks uncluttered and calming

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I really like the BenQ light.
It’s billed as an e-reading light. Have you tried it for reading physical papers and books?

The BenQ light surprised me and it’s become one of my favourite tools. You can adjust the colour temperature to warmer or cooler tones for reading or task work. They also have a ScreenBar if you prefer that. If space is an issue, the lamp has a desk clamp as an optional accessory you can buy.

If you’re wanting a lamp just for reading, I think they sell a smaller size version too.

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I have the Benq screen bar and love it

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