Are Mac and PC Monitors Compatible?

By Nicole Martinez

Monitors can be used with both Macs and PCs.
i Erik Snyder/Lifesize/Getty Images

As Apple has increased its market share in computer sales, it is becoming increasingly popular for households or businesses to utilize both Mac and PC computers. Because of this, you may have hardware such as a monitor from one computer platform that you wish to use with the other type of computer.


Consumers frequently purchase computers and monitors together, which helps ensure that the devices are compatible. For example, major PC manufacturers such as HP and Gateway sell computer packages complete with a monitor, keyboard and mouse. However, consumers may wish to use an existing PC or Mac monitor with a computer that relies on the other operating system, especially if they have just upgraded to a new computer that does not include a monitor or if their current monitor offers features such as a high-definition picture and it would be more cost effective to continue to use it.

LED Cinema Display

Apple's new LED Cinema Display is the most recent standalone monitor that the company manufactures for use with Macintosh computers. This monitor connects to the computer with a Mini DisplayPort plug. DisplayPort is similar to HDMI in that is transmits both high definition audio and video data in a single cable. According to the company, this technology is compatible with all newer Apple products including MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro. However, (Mini) Display Port interfaces are not universal among PC desktop or laptops.

PC Monitors

PC monitors are available with a wide variety of connections for use with computers that have compatible interfaces. High definition HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort connections are available on newer devices while many monitors are compatible with older computers via analog VGA ports. Computer manufacturer Dell makes several lines of standalone monitors, including the various UltraSharp models that each include one or more of the above interfaces for connecting to PCs and, with the appropriate adapter, Apple monitors.


Although a Mac monitor may not be directly compatible with a PC computer (and vice versa), the consumer can purchase adapters. For example, an Apple LED monitor that has a Mini Display Port may be used with a PC if the consumer purchases an adapter than turns the computer's signal (for example, regular DisplayPort or HDMI) to a Mini DisplayPort signal. The consumer should be careful to purchase an adapter that converts the signal in the correct direction as adapters exist to convert both ways (the male connector should correspond with the port on the computer/source). Users who desire to connect a PC monitor with a Macintosh computer will require an adapter the converts to Mini DisplayPort from their output interface.