6 Best Apps to Control Your Mac’s External Display | Jobs Vox


If you’re ready to increase your productivity by hooking up your Mac to an external display, you’ll need the right app to fully control your monitor. And if you’re a first timer, you might be surprised to find that your keyboard’s volume or brightness controls no longer work.

To make matters worse, you can’t make changes through the Control Center. That’s because Macs don’t support the Consumer Electronics Control Protocol. Because Macs don’t work with CEC, you can’t use your Mac to directly control any connected display.

However, you can use one of these six apps to regain control of your Mac’s external display.

1. MonitorControl: The Best All-In-One App

MonitorControl runs on macOS

When it comes to ease of use, MonitorControl is king. This app contains powerful tools to control the brightness and volume level of your external display without overloading the options.

At first glance, MonitorControl’s interface is simple and uncluttered. It gives you only the information you need and nothing that you don’t. But don’t let its simplicity fool you. MonitorControl provides full DDC hardware dimming for supported monitors, meaning it actually changes your screen’s brightness settings instead of using software dimming.

And if your display supports DDC, you can also control the volume of any built-in speakers. If you’re looking for one tool that can do just that, MonitorControl is right up your alley.

You need to head over to GitHub to get the full version of MonitorControl and unlock all its features. But if you’re looking for a one-click installation, a stripped down version called MonitorControl Lite is available on the App Store. But be warned, the Lite version does not have volume control or DDC hardware dimming.

Download: MonitorControl (Free) or MonitorControl Lite (Free)

2. Volume Control: The best simple volume controller

SoundControl runs on macOS

Volume Control is one of the best ways to regain control over your Mac’s audio. And unlike some apps that overwhelm you with features, SoundControl is refreshingly simple and easy to use.

Once Sound Control is installed on your Mac, you’ll be able to use your keyboard controls again to increase and decrease the volume on your system. But the volume control does more than just control the volume of your external display.

It’s also great at managing all the audio devices connected to your Mac. With just one click, you can easily switch between your external display speakers, audio devices like headphones, and even your MacBook’s built-in audio.

Advanced volume control features include volume controls for individual apps, per-app EQ, and even the ability to adjust audio left/right balance. You have to pay to unlock Sound Control’s full feature set, but the unlimited free trial gives you access to the most important features.

Download: Volume Control ($25, free trial)

3. eqMac: Best for audiophiles

eqMac runs on macOS

eqMac has emerged as one of the most popular options for managing audio on macOS, and for good reason. It allows you to easily control your external display speakers and is also a great tool for controlling all the sound coming from your Mac.

The app has a sleek interface that’s easy to use, but if you’re serious about audio, it offers an intense level of customization. eqMac has three different equalizers that allow you to adjust the sound of your Mac to the smallest level. You even create profiles for different audio devices and apps.

eqMac is also great for managing multiple audio outputs and can automatically connect to desired devices. So if you’re serious about sound, you can’t go wrong with this software.

Download: eqMac (free, subscription available)

4. DisplayBuddy: Best for multi-monitor setups

DisplayBuddy runs on macOS

Managing multiple monitors on macOS shouldn’t be difficult. DisplayBuddy is a great tool that lets you control your Mac’s external display, even if you have a multi-monitor setup.

DisplayBuddy lets you control the brightness, contrast level, and volume of all the monitors connected to your Mac, and lets you change settings independently of each other.

So if you’re editing videos with Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro, you can easily increase the brightness of your main display to see your work better. And if you’re watching a movie or playing the best Mac games, you can dim or dim your secondary monitors so you can focus on the action.

DisplayBuddy helps you get the most out of your multi-monitor setup. And as an added bonus, DisplayBuddy has Siri support too, giving you an even more seamless experience.

Download: DisplayBuddy ($12.99, free trial available)

5. Sound Source: Best for redirecting audio

SoundSource runs on macOS

If you’re someone who constantly juggles audio input and output devices, SoundSource by Rogue Amoeba can make your life a lot easier.

SoundSource not only lets you control the volume level of your monitor, but also allows you to loop audio between all your connected devices and apps. This means you can have Zoom audio play through your display speakers and send your songs from Spotify to your surround sound setup. The possibilities are endless.

SoundSource also has a number of advanced features, such as a 10-band equalizer that allows you to fine-tune your sound.

Download: SoundSource ($39, free trial)

6. Lunar: Best for Apple Display owners

Launch Moon on macOS

Branding itself as the “defacto app for managing monitors,” Lunar sets itself apart from the pack by packing a stylish interface backed by some serious technology.

Lunar combines volume control with DDC hardware full dimming, meaning it actually controls your monitor’s brightness instead of just simulating dimming with a dark overlay.

Lunar also has some exclusive features that you won’t find anywhere else. For example, its Sensor Mode lets you use an external ambient light sensor to automatically dim and raise brightness based on current lighting conditions, meaning you can adapt your external monitor to match your MacBook’s built-in screen.

Lunar can also control Apple displays natively, giving you smoother brightness and an experience closer to a MacBook’s built-in display. And if you have a 2021 MacBook Pro or newer, or if you own the impressive Pro Display XDR, you can use the Lunar to boost your display to 1,600 nits, even when you’re not watching HDR content; That’s three times brighter than you can get with macOS alone.

Download: Lunar ($23, free trial available)

Take control of your Mac’s external display

Apple says macOS is intuitive and easy to use. But that’s until you decide to hook up your Mac to an external display. The fact that macOS still doesn’t support volume or brightness controls for external monitors is a huge mistake by Apple.

For a long time, using a Mac with an external display meant giving up some basic quality-of-life features. Fortunately, you can take back control of your Mac’s screen with the right app, meaning you can get the big screen experience without making huge sacrifices.


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