Laptop Clamshell Setup

SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock with MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina display Apple Thunderbolt Display Apple Wireless Keyboard Workstation

The SVALT Cooling Dock was designed to transform closed-screen clamshell mode laptops into high-productivity desktop workstations without requiring any laptop modifications.

What is Clamshell Mode?

For anyone who isn’t familiar with clamshell mode and how to operate a laptop in clamshell mode, then fret not - we’ll break down what this means and why it’s useful. Put simply, clamshell mode is an Apple supported configuration that allows you to treat your laptop like a desktop tower, disabling the laptop’s built-in screen, keyboard, trackpad and speakers so that you can help preserve those built-in components while using larger, more powerful and more ergonomic external monitor, keyboard, trackpad/mouse, speakers, and any other accessory you require to create a full featured desktop workstation (see Workstation Ergonomics).

Clamshell Mode Setup

To operate an Apple laptop in closed screen clamshell mode the following accessories are required:

External Display
You will need one or more external display. One of the advantages of a clamshell workstation is that it disables the laptop’s built-in screen to help optimize graphics performance for driving multiple full-sized and high-resolution external displays. Displaying the laptop’s screen also helps to preserve it and free up system power for the processors to use, which helps to avoid performance throttling induced by a limited power supply when running top-end CPU and GPU processors at maximum speeds. The two or more external displays can be placed side-by-side to provide a cleaner digital desktop setup, and these displays can be located at eye level to avoid looking down and help improve workstation ergonomics. The display connection type, resolution and compatibility will depend on your laptop model. To learn more please see SVALT's External Display Buyers Guide posting.

External Keyboard and Mouse
You will need a wired or wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard, as well as a wired or wireless (Bluetooth) mouse, gaming mouse, trackball, trackpad, drawing surface or other input device. One of the advantages of using a clamshell workstation is that you can use the input device of your preference to provide required functionality and improved ergonomics. If you choose to use Bluetooth device, then you will need to establish a Bluetooth connection while the laptop's the screen is open. In addition, whenever you want to enable clamshell mode you will need to make sure that the laptop’s Bluetooth is on and the devices are switch on. Checkout photos of Apple's new Magic wireless keyboard and trackpad with the SVALT Cooling Dock in Workstation Accessories posting.

External Power Supply
You will need to connect the laptop to external power supply. One of the advantages of a clamshell workstation over a normal desktop system is that the laptop includes an internal battery that acts as an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) that protects the laptop from data loss and system corruption. Note that a UPS should not be used to provide laptop power, but a surge protector is still recommended. See Apple’s article Troubleshooting MagSafe Adapters for an explanation of why a UPS should be avoided when using a laptop. If power is lost or cables are accidentally disconnected while in clamshell mode, then the laptop will enter sleep mode, requiring a normal sleep wake procedure as described below.

Enabling Clamshell Mode

Enable clamshell mode through either of the following methods:

Enabling Clamshell Mode When Powered Off
When the laptop is powered down, connect the external display, keyboard, mouse/trackpad and power supply. Once those connections are made (hard cable connections or with wireless devises powered on and in discovery mode), then open the laptop screen, press the power button and quickly close the screen. There is no need to wait for the external screen to light up before closing the laptop screen, in fact, if you choose to wait until the external display lights up, then the laptop will enter dual-display mode. Note that after an initial setting up of clamshell mode, newer laptops may automatically startup once the connections are made, and do not require the power button to be pressed.

Enabling Clamshell Mode When Asleep
When using a laptop with the screen open, simply close the screen to put it asleep, or select Sleep from the Apple drop down menu. Once asleep, connect the external display, keyboard, mouse/trackpad and power supply. Once those connections are made (hard cable connection or wireless powered on and in discovery mode), then press the keyboard spacebar and wait a few seconds for clamshell mode to initiate.

Disabling Clamshell Mode

Disable clamshell mode by the following methods:

Disable Clamshell Mode By Shutting Down
Go to the Apple logo at the top left corner of the screen and select “Shut Down…” and once powered off you can either leave the connections in place to resume clamshell mode at a later time or you can disconnect the cables for mobile usage.

Disable Clamshell Mode By Sleeping
Go to the Apple logo at the top left corner of the screen and select “Sleep” and once asleep then you can either leave the connection in place to resume clamshell mode at a later time or you can disconnect the cable for mobile usage.

Disable Clamshell Mode By Unplugging
As noted above, removing laptop connections puts the laptop into sleep mode. Each laptop model and operating systems handles this differently, and may or may not be an effective method.

SVALT Workstation Setup and Operation

See SVALT Workstation Setup and Operation to learn how to setup a SVALT workstation and how to operation a SVALT Cooling Dock.


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