March 7, 2023

How to Use Dual Monitors with MacBook Airs (M1/M2 Chips)

By Paul William

March 7, 2023

I recently purchased a new MacBook Air (2022) with an M2 chip and was disappointed to learn that it does not natively support dual display/multiple monitors. 

I use dual external monitors daily for work, web browsing, and video editing — so finding a solution was a must, or else I would have had to return it.

The (poor) suggestion that’s most repeated online is that if you need dual monitors, you need to spend a few hundred dollars more to upgrade to a MacBook Pro 14 or 16 inch model which does support dual output. 

But I personally prefer the sleek, lightweight, fan-less design of the Air, and wanted to find a way to make dual monitors work.

Is there any way to use multiple monitors with the M1/M2 MacBook Airs?

Yes! Luckily I was able to find a dual monitor hub that not only works with my new MacBook Air, but also works with my HP Windows work computer too.

It’s a simple USB-to-dual display port converter that using a technology called DisplayLink that lets you get around the limitations of your own computers graphics card.

Using this dual-display hub, I was able to easily plug one USB connection into either my MacBook Air M2 or my regular Windows laptop, and instantly have two external monitors for both (3 screens total if you leave your laptop screen open).

Since there seems to be a good amount of misinformation around this process, and I am someone who actually purchased this computer and set it up successfully with dual monitors, I’ve compiled this list of FAQs below to help save time and money for people who find themselves in a similar situation.

MacBook Air (M1/M2) Dual Display Monitors FAQs

What dual monitor hub/display lets you use two external monitors with the MacBook Air?

USB 3.0 to Dual DisplayPort Adapter – 4K 60Hz by StarTech

Does this dual monitor hub work for M1/M2 MacBook Airs (2021 and later)?

Yes, as long as you download a free DisplayLink driver which is located here.

Does it work to display dual monitors for both Mac and PC?

Yes. For PC it is plug and play. For Mac you just need to download a driver which takes 2 seconds and then it works.

Does the StarTech USB adapter connect via the old USB-A connections, or the new smaller USB-C connections?

The model I have has a traditional USB-A connection so I use a USB-A to USB-C adapter I got on Amazon for just a few dollars. It works perfectly. 

My MacBook Air has two USB ports. Can’t I just connect two USB-to-DisplayPort (or HDMI) cables for dual monitors?

No. The MacBook Airs with M1/M2 chips do not support dual monitors without an adapter. Only the M1/M2 PRO chips do. You are limited by your computer hardware, not the number of ports. This may seem surprising, since even the MB Airs back from 2015 supported dual display, but with the change to Apple’s own new M chips, this has changed. 

The MacBook Pros 14 and 16 inch do natively support dual displays, but those computers are much more expensive. Your only option is to get a hub/docking station/dongle for multiple monitors with the new MacBook Air.

Do I need to buy a MacBook Pro if I want to use two computer screens?

No. You can if you prefer to. But if your heart is set on the Air, you can use this adapter to connect multiple monitors to the M1/M2 MacBook Airs.

Wrapping up

Hopefully now you can stop watching the YouTube videos and reading the Reddit forums filled with answers from people who don’t actually own this laptop or use it with dual monitors. 

The final answer is that if you have a new MacBook Air with the M1/M2 chip and want dual monitors, you currently need to buy an adapter with DisplayLink or another technology specifically designed to output from these new M chips. 

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