M1 MacBook Air - Multiple Monitors

In the next couple of months I am looking to upgrade my 2015 MacBook Pro to an M1 MacBook Air. Like our fearless leader, David Sparks, I would like to set up a workstation with more than one monitor. However, I understand that the M1 MacBooks can only drive one external monitor. Is that a port issue or a driver issue on the M1 SoaC? In other words, I plan on plugging the MacBook Air into a docking station with several ports. Will this do the trick on more than one monitor? If not, is there a way to daisy chain more than one monitor with one cable from one port? Or should I just get one big-ass monitor? Thanks!

I believe that it’s a hardware limitation of the M1. I think that you can use DisplayLink to get the effect of more than one external montior, but that it’s not officially supported.

If I were making this decision right now and multiple external displays were a necessity for me, I’d wait for the next set of Mac notebooks to come out. I would absolutley not count on being able to use multiple displays on current M1 Macbooks (the Mini will drive two displays).


I’ve been using mine with an external monitor and an iPad pro via Sidecar just fine. Not exactly your solution but it works .

Yes, I had considered Sidecar, but I have an iPad Air. Limited use as a second monitor.

Do you mind expanding on this? I haven’t used sidecar yet so don’t know the limitations.

I am also on an Macbook Pro 2015 (15") and I will hold on until mutiple Displays are supported natively by Apple. Probably that will happen itj te next gen M1s.

Mainly in terms of screen size. The Air isn’t as big as the larger Pro.

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Any thoughts on the daisy chain option?

Daisy chaining won’t work. The Mac will use only one of the monitors.

M2s rumored to be released over the summer (expect the 14" MBP will be the model that everyone will want, rocking more ram and displays.)

If your dock is a Thunderbolt dock (like Caldigit TS3+) you should be fine using 2 external monitors if you use the hdmi-port or displayport on the dock and a USB3 DisplayLink adapter connected to same thunderbolt dock. I have 3 4K displays connected to the M1 mini using 1 direct Thunderbolt connection, 1 HDMI and one DisplayLink. The only draw is that the DisplayLink display will not be Nightshift compatible. I circumvented this by manuall recreating a profile and switch to that when my other monitors switch to Nightshift.

If the problem is the M1 chip on the MacBook Air, how with different ports on the Thunderbolt dock make a difference?

Thee M1 Mini has the same chip and Thunderbolt controler. Also just 2 Thunderbolt ports, like the Air. The reason the Mini can do 3 displays instead of just 2 is that there is an additional HDMI port.

Search “multiple displays macbook air m1” on youtube for some interesting setups up to dual 4K. As said the only downside using DisplayLink adapter is not having Nightshift.

A DisplayLink dock is cheaper than a Thunderbolt dock and a DisplayLink adapter; in the end it depends on the I/O and speeds you need.

From what I have been reading and researching, if I hook up the M1 MacBook Air to a docking station with Thunderbolt and HDMI ports, I can hook up one monitor to the Thunderbolt port and one to the HDMI port, and it will work. The M1 limitation is just as to monitors running on a Thunderbolt port?

I think that’s it. I cannot run 2 monitors on thunderbolt. Not even one on each separate bus. No problem when I add one via HDMI and another one via the DisplayLink adapter

This does not work for me, at least not natively. DisplayLink seems to work for some people (posting here even), but that’s not a native solution (though that’s academic if it works well enough for your needs, but is still worth noting).

I am not sure what DisplayLink is. Is it hardware or software? Not sure where it enters the equation.

It’s a dock and software


DisplayLink (not to be confused with DisplayPort) is a hardware and software technology that (more or less) creates a virtual display adaptor and uses USB to send that to a monitor though a special hardware adaptor. Apple’s history with supporting it in macOS is spotty.

Maybe we will also be able to have multiple monitors connected through airport etc. if I look to the newst changes in OSX 12