Macbook Pro will not connect to Thunderbolt display
February 24, 2013 11:26 AM   Subscribe

MPB late 2011, Thunderbolt native running 10.8.2 will not light up Thunderbolt display I bought today at the Apple Store.

The basic problem seems to be that under System Preferences -> Display the "Arrangement" tab does not appear.

The Thunderbolt display has power (fan on lower left corner blowing, will power both MBP and external drive). I have zapped the PRAM, reset the SMC, run everything imaginable under Onyx, disconnected and reconnected every thing (Thunderbolt, power, etc.) from both the MBP and the display in every possible iteration.

I had a third party app called "airdisplay" running at first, but I've nuked it.

Applecare in the US had no idea and suggested I just take it back to the apple store in Amsterdam where I bought it today. This is less than convenient. I've tried googling, the Apple support forums and stackoverflow...Help?
posted by digitalprimate to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
I should add that this is true whether running in clamshell open or closed mode.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:28 AM on February 24, 2013

if you're not seeing the arrangement tab, it means OSX isn't fully connected to the monitor. Do you have another thunderbolt cable you could try? If you look in console, is there anything funky going on?
posted by Oktober at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2013

what does it say in System Report (Apple menu->About This Mac->More Info->System Report)? you should be looking in both Displays and Thunderbolt. if it doesn't show up in either place, then you either have a defective display or your computer has issues. my bet would be the display doesn't work. do you have any other Thunderbolt devices, and do they work? does it work if you hook another regular DVI or DisplayPort screen into it? (you will need adapters for that if you don't have them already, as well as another screen - a TV with HDMI ports will work in a pinch.) you should also make sure you're up to date software-wise - there were some Thunderbolt-related software updates that came out last year, though if you're on 10.8.2 you probably already have them.

other things you could try would be creating a fresh account and hooking it in while logged in there (just in case something you've got installed in your account is causing issues), or hooking it into another Thunderbolt-equipped machine if you have access to one. I'd figure only the latter would really tell you anything. I suppose you could theoretically use the downstream ports on the monitor to connect it, but I'm not really sure that would work and you'd also have to have a spare Thunderbolt cable handy (which I'm assuming you don't; they're fairly expensive things to have spares of).
posted by mrg at 1:13 PM on February 24, 2013

...what does it say in System Report (Apple menu->About This Mac->More Info->System Report)?

The MBP has two graphics chips, and the second says [emphasis added]:

ntel HD Graphics 3000:

Chipset Model: Intel HD Graphics 3000
Type: GPU
Bus: Built-In
VRAM (Total): 512 MB
Vendor: Intel (0x8086)
Device ID: 0x0126
Revision ID: 0x0009
gMux Version: 1.9.23
Color LCD:
Display Type: LCD
Resolution: 1680 x 1050
Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
Main Display: Yes
Mirror: Off
Online: Yes
Built-In: Yes

I've been searching for a command line that will force it to mirror, but the only command I've found is usage: "mirror [option]" where you can select "t" to toggle or "-on" to force it on.

Naturally, the command line recognizes none of these :(
posted by digitalprimate at 2:31 PM on February 24, 2013

This exact problem happened to us about 18 mo ago (though with a MBAir)--brand new Thunderbolt display wouldn't show the laptop image even tho all was connected properly. The AppleCare rep was not helpful. Luckily we consulted a tech savvy friend who came over and found the magic setting. I wish for the life of me I could remember what it was! I'll try to get in touch with him and see if he remembers, but maybe try AppleCare again and see if you can get another rep? Can you escalate to a more experienced rep? There is definitely a setting solution...
posted by msbubbaclees at 4:47 PM on February 24, 2013

Are you 100% sure you're using a (legit) Thunderbolt cable? I imagine the monitor came with one, but it's possible you're trying to use a Mini DisplayPort cable (which looks very similar) instead.

FYI, when you plug in the cable you should get a blue screen on your Mac for a moment while the video driver resets itself. Also, MacBooks will only work with external monitors in "closed lid" mode if they're on external power. On battery power they will go into sleep mode, even if a monitor is connected.

If feasible, I would try a different Thunderbolt display, but that would probably involve visiting your local Apple store. Barring that, I would try plugging in a normal monitor with a Mini DisplayPort adapter and see if that works (which would rule out any chipset weirdness, or a bad port on your Mac).
posted by neckro23 at 1:20 PM on February 25, 2013

Update: took the MBP into the local shop, confirmed the Thunderbolt port is dead.

That said I never did find a definitive way to rule out a software issue before I confirmed (at least one) hardware issue.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:23 AM on February 26, 2013

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