Luna Display’s powerful Target Display Mode feature for Mac adds Ethernet and Thunderbolt support

When the new M1 iMacs launched, we wrote about Target Display Mode being absent from the hardware. While Luna Display has offered a wireless alternative that works with all Macs for some time, a new update today essentially brings back Target Display Mode with Ethernet and Thunderbolt support, with one limitation.

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As a refresher, Target Display Mode was last supported in the mid-2014 iMacs and earlier (non-Retina models) and Apple officially killed the feature with macOS Mojave and later. It allowed the use of a Mac as an external display, powered by another Mac.

We previously highlighted Astropad’s Luna Display and its Mac to Mac mode as a great workaround to get the functionality of Target Display Mode but until today, it only worked over a wireless connection. Now with Luna Display 4.5, the software supports wired connections over Ethernet or Thunderbolt just like Target Display Mode did.

Previously, Mac-to-Mac Mode only worked over Luna’s wireless connection. With today’s update, Mac-to-Mac Mode will also support Ethernet and Thunderbolt connection between Macs, with a seamless set-up process.

This will improve the Mac-to-Mac Mode experience for users with limited WiFi connection or who prefer not to connect wirelessly, as they’ll now have the option for a wired connection.

We double-checked with Astropad and its $99 hardware adapter is still required when using Luna Display’s Mac to Mac mode over Ethernet or Thunderbolt. It supports recognizing the second Mac as a display, GPU acceleration, and reliable performance.

However, one limitation, for now, is a secondary iMac is limited to non-Retina resolutions. But Luna Display is looking into offering 4K/5K support (keep in mind Apple never offered Target Display support for its Retina iMacs).

Luna Display 4.5 release notes:

  • Mac-to-Mac Mode now supports Ethernet and Thunderbolt connection between Macs
  • Primary Luna app now shows a battery indicator for the secondary device
  • Secondary Mac keyboard enhancements: key repeats are properly working
  • Refreshed macOS app icons
  • Retina support on M1 is more reliable now
  • In the iOS app: enhanced compatibility with 2020 iPad Air 
  • General bug fixes and improvements

If you’re wanting to try out a setup like this without committing to the hardware purchase, Duet Display is another option with Mac to Mac and wireless as well as wired support.

Top image via Phillip Caudell

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.