Second monitor **above** laptop screen setup?

Hi everyone - I’m enjoying looking through threads of your desk setups as I consider what to do about mine.

I had an iMac Pro and second 27" monitor side-by-side for years. I sold the iMac a few months back, got a temporary Mac Mini, and learned to use Spaces with the single monitor.

Since it seems I won’t be getting an M?? iMac for some time, I got the 16" Macbook Pro for pickup in just a few minutes. Even with Spaces, 16" isn’t enough to be my primary monitor, but I’m not willing to put the Macbook in clamshell mode. I want access to TouchID and I’m not willing to waste that beautiful screen.

My current thinking is to mount the 27" on the wall on an arm and to put the 16" where I have the monitor today. I’d continue to use my external keyboard and mouse. Browsing around, I didn’t see anyone with this setup and wondered if it’s uncommon because few people have it or because it’s a bad idea.

Thoughts? Thanks!

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I use that setup at home and at work (albeit with a Windows Laptop :sob:) and without the wall mounting. One Laptop plus Monitor is a great setup.

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I already have two monitors mounted on two desk arms (not walls arms). I am considering retiring the old non-retina monitor, and mount my MBP on the arm (instead of the monitor). That means I will continue to use my external keyboard and trackpad.

Thanks for the input. I’m specifically talking about the vertical (rather than side by side) arrangement. Is that what you’re doing? Any tips?

I do this all the time with a 16" MBP and an LG 21.5" HD 4K Ultra Fine monitor extended it to its full height. I do switch to side-by-side mode sometimes. I like the flexibility.


Outstanding, thanks!

What do you find are the types of work/tasks that don’t go well in vertical and cause you to move to side by side?

Hmmm, y’know, I’m not sure I have much insight as to why I pick one over the other. Maybe the most typical reason I opt for side-by-side is that I want to use an external keyboard.

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Good to know. I’m trying to set mine up so that I’m always using the external keyboard, but I suspect there will be some tasks for which I don’t prefer the vertical arrangement.

I have done that a long time ago, but i found it uncomfortable, i find it easier to work in the horizontal plane than vertical.

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It’s not uncommon to see this in offices with narrow desks, like the “open floorplan” offices we have all learned to love…

Anyway, you can use a VESA stand like this one although I’m pretty sure that one is too small.

I have a 32” 4K monitor raised to eye level on my desk and in straight line of sight. To the left at an angle I keep my 13” MacBook Pro usually with OmniFocus or Mail open.

The 4K monitor gives me enough space to run VSCode and a browser side by side and seems a productive setup. I use an external keyboard and trackpad

I also keep my laptop screen at the left of my main display. It usually shows nothing, as I became used to do everything on a single display.

But the setup you are mentioning is very popular among developers. I’ve seen most of them have a code editor on the main screen and a terminal in the laptop screen below the display.

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Set it up this way temporarily to see how I feel. (Right now it’s two separate computers though - Mac Mini and the laptop).

What I’m going to try first is keeping email, slack, messages, & sonos on the lower (laptop) monitor. What I’m working on actively can go up top, and I’ll still use Spaces on that monitor to keep things organized.

I have tried this in the past. I found that the big display ended up being too far back from my eyes for comfortable reading distance. I like to keep the big display at arm’s length.

I like to use an external keyboard and trackball at my desktop. If I were willing to use the built-in MacBook keyboard and trackpad, I expect I’d be happier.

What the hell–I’ll give it another try now. Maybe it’ll work out different this time!

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You know what they say about the definition of insanity….


I need to make some tweaks, but it won’t be hard for me to keep the big monitor within arm’s reach.

Of course, now that I’m trying this, I’m realizing how helpful it would be to have a monitor I could connect with USB-C and get power, etc…

How much is that LG 5k?..

I’m doing it now.


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That didn’t take long to get to nope. I’d have to elevate the big display to be able to use it with the small display below it. And the big display is at the perfect height as is.

OTOH, I’m enjoying the clear space between the keyboard and big display. I’d been using that space as a dump for mail and such.




Personally, I can only get this to work with smaller laptops. With larger ones, it either puts the monitor too high to be comfortable, or I have to tilt the laptop screen too far back. It’s not a “bad” setup. But I keep going back to my regular keyboard, mouse, and RollerMouse.