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CLAMSHELL

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

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.

The SVALT Cooling Dock product line uses an innovative leaning vertical configuration for increased support stability with a wide variety of laptop sizes and to allow the laptop screen to be opened while connected to cables and resting within the padded cradle for easier drop-free clamshell mode activation.

Setting Up Clamshell Mode

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

External Display
You will need one or more external display, or a projector. 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 the screen and helps 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. 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 Guide posting. If you are using a new external display for the first time and are not familiar with enabling clamshell mode, then you might find it easier to setup the new display prior to initiating clamshell mode.

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 curser/pointer input type 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 pairing before attempting to enable clamshell mode for the first time. After the initial Bluetooth setup, you will need to make sure the laptop’s Bluetooth is turned on and the input devices are turned on to enable clamshell mode.

External Power Supply
You will need to connect the laptop to external power supply, or use an external display that provides power through the monitor connection. 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 the following methods depending on your setup:

Option #1 for all Mac laptops: Enabling clamshell mode when asleep but without connections
When using a laptop with the screen open but without connections to external display, keyboard/mouse (cable or Bluetooth) and power, then use the following steps to enable clamshell mode:
  • Connect external keyboard and mouse (cable or Bluetooth).
  • Initiate sleep by closing the screen or by selecting Sleep from the Apple drop down menu and then closing the screen.
  • Connect external display cable and power on display.
  • Connect power cable.
  • Press the external keyboard spacebar and wait a few seconds for clamshell mode to initiate and the external display to wake.
  • If clamshell mode does not initiate than see option #2 below.

Option #2 for all Mac laptops: Enabling clamshell mode when asleep with connections
When using a laptop with the screen open and already connected to external display, keyboard/mouse (cable or Bluetooth) and power, then use the following steps to enable clamshell mode:
  • Initiate sleep by closing the screen or by selecting Sleep from the Apple drop down menu and then closing the screen.
  • Press the external keyboard spacebar and wait a few seconds for clamshell mode to initiate and the external display to wake.
  • If clamshell does not initiate then open the laptop screen, check that the external display and external keyboard/mouse are working, and check that the laptop is receiving external power and is not running on battery power. If everything is working, then repeat the above steps with initiating sleep and pressing the space bar

Option #3 for newer Mac laptops: Enabling clamshell mode when shutdown but without connections
When a newer laptop (2016+ MacBook Pro, 2018+ MacBook Air, and 2015+ MacBook) is shutdown and without connections to external display, keyboard/mouse (cable or Bluetooth) and power, then use the following steps to enable clamshell mode:
  • Connect external display cable and power on display.
  • Connect external keyboard and mouse cables or switch on Bluetooth.
  • Connect power cable.
  • The laptop will make a noise when the power cable is connected and will automatically initiate startup in clamshell mode.
  • If startup does not initiate than see options #4 and 5 below.

Option #4 for newer Mac laptops: Enabling clamshell mode when shutdown with connections
When a newer laptop (2016+ MacBook Pro, 2018+ MacBook Air, and 2015+ MacBook) is shutdown and already connected to external display, keyboard/mouse (cable or Bluetooth) and power, then use the following steps to enable clamshell mode:
  • Disconnect power cable, wait a few seconds, then reconnect power cable.
  • The laptop will make a noise when the power cable is connected and will automatically initiate startup in clamshell mode.
  • If startup does not initiate than see option #5 below.

Option #5 for newer Mac laptops: Enabling clamshell mode when shutdown with connections
As an alternative to option #4, when a newer laptop (2016+ MacBook Pro, 2018+ MacBook Air, and 2015+ MacBook) is shutdown and already connected to external display, keyboard/mouse (cable or Bluetooth) and power, then use the following steps to enable clamshell mode:
  • Open the laptop screen and leave it open while the laptop goes through the complete startup process, including entering user password with laptop keyboard/mouse or external keyboard/mouse and waiting until both the laptop screen and external display desktops load.
  • Once the startup process is complete, then close the laptop screen / lid and the laptop will go into sleep mode so that can clamshell mode can be enabled per option #2 above.

Option #6 for older Mac laptops: Enabling clamshell mode when shutdown but without connections
When an older laptop (released before 2016 MacBook Pro, 2018 MacBook Air, 2015 MacBook) is shutdown and without connections to external display, keyboard/mouse (cable or Bluetooth) and power, then use the following steps to enable clamshell mode:
  • Connect external display cable and power on display.
  • Connect external keyboard and mouse cables or switch on Bluetooth.
  • Connect power cable.
  • Open the laptop screen, press the power button, and once the start screen appears, then close the screen. Alternatively, you can leave the laptop screen open until the complete, at which point you close the laptop screen / lid and the laptop will go into sleep mode so that clamshell mode can be enabled per option #2 above.

Option #7 for older Mac laptops: Enabling clamshell mode when shutdown with connections
When an older laptop (released before 2016 MacBook Pro, 2018 MacBook Air, 2015 MacBook) is shutdown and connected to external display, keyboard/mouse (cable or Bluetooth) and power, then use the following steps to enable clamshell mode:
  • Open the laptop screen, press the power button, and once the start screen appears, then close the screen. Alternatively, you can leave the laptop screen open until the complete, at which point you close the laptop screen / lid and the laptop will go into sleep mode so that clamshell mode can be enabled per option #2 above.

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 use.

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. Note that disconnecting the cables (power and/or monitor) while running in clamshell mode will automatically enter sleep, however, using the menu to enable sleep before disconnecting cables is recommended to reduce issues with external storage devices or working from the cloud.

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