Mac Mystery Solved

Nov 26

I’ve owned a MacbookAir (13″) for about 18 months and the new MacbookPro (13″ retina) for just over a month and have found them to be solid, well built, reliable machines in an amazingly small form factor.

That said, when Apple adopted the Thunderbolt standard for their minidisplays, I’ve had nothing but issues getting them to hook up to projectors.

Unfortunately, it has been one of the few issues I’ve had that has left the Apple Genius’s stumped (with some indicating it’s just a “windows” issue).

Since I spend quite a bit of time teaching, presenting and speaking as a keynote speaker, this issue has become more than annoyance.

The Apple Discussion boards show that I’m not alone in this issue.

The way us IT folks approach debugging an issue is to eliminate the variables to nail down is it hardware or software.

So in the case of the Macbook air, the projector works just find in Mac Mode, and while running Windows 7 in Parallels, but not while running Windows 7 under BootCamp. I tried upgrading the Windows 7 video driver (Intel) with no luck.

So the issue seemed to be neither hardware, or software (it worked when booting under the Mac mode and in Parallel Windows 7).

Finally, I found the solution and it turned out to be the cable that Apple sells to turn the Thunderbolt/Minidisplay port into a VGA compatible signal. From what I can tell, the Apple Cable does not send all of the signals through to the VGA, which means that many projectors don’t recognize that they have a device plugged into them.

The solution? a $19 cable from Amazon that can be ordered here – checked and it works !