Some Users Having External Display Connection Issues With macOS Big Sur 11.1 and 11.2

Some macOS Big Sur users who are running the 11.1 and recently released 11.2 update have been experiencing ongoing issues with external displays, based on multiple reports on the MacRumors forum, Apple Support Communities, Twitter, and Reddit.

macbook pro touch bar m1
There are at least two separate issues at play, but both are related to external display connections. The problems appear to have started with the macOS Big Sur 11.1 update, and the 11.2 update has not provided a fix and in some cases, has worsened the issue.

The first issue causes USB-C ports to fail to recognize external monitors, rendering external displays unusable and unable to connect. This appears to be affecting both DisplayPort and HDMI displays connected directly and through hubs and adapters.


We saw this issue firsthand after upgrading a MacBook Pro to macOS Big Sur 11.2, with the update preventing an external monitor from connecting with USB-C, and there are several other complaints from affected users. From Reddit:

Upgrading to 11.2 broke my second external monitor connection.
Primary monitor LG Ultrafine 4k (Mac version) connected via Thunderbolt.
Secondary monitor (same model) connected via HDMI->DisplayPort adapter (BENFEI), then DisplayPort->USB-C cable no longer works after updating (worked fine on 11.1 before updating).
macOS appears to recognize the monitor and resolution, as it is shown in display settings, and Apple Support was able to remove into my computer and see both screens. It's almost as if the signal for the monitor to turn on is not being sent.

The second issue results in resolution issues with external displays unable to work at a full 4K 60Hz resolution, instead locked at 30Hz. In some cases, a 4K monitor is only recognized as a 1080p monitor.


It appears that many of those affected with display issues have a 16-inch MacBook Pro, but there are also reports of other Macs with the same connectivity problems. There does not appear to be a reliable, widespread and tested fix or workaround at this time.

Mac users did not experience these problems in the initial release of macOS Big Sur 11.0.1, and it appears that the macOS Big Sur 11.3 update released yesterday also does not address the problem, but there is still some time for Apple to work in a fix before the 11.3 software sees a public release.

Top Rated Comments

cal6n Avatar
18 months ago
It’s good to see this on the front page. Let’s get some visibility.

My Benq PD2720U drops to 1920 x 1080 when my MBP M1 wakes from sleep, but still tries to display my higher res desktop.

Turning the monitor off and on restores normality, so it’s an annoyance but it still shouldn’t be happening.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Johnny907 Avatar
18 months ago
Well yeah, because in so many ways Big Sur is a huge piece of garbage. Apple needs to get serious about squashing bugs and getting back to “It just works” again.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sirozha Avatar
18 months ago
Thats an understatement. Huge issues with external display for me on the M1 MacBook Air. HDMI connection is not recognized after the Mac goes to sleep. I have to unplug the cable and plug it back in and then bang on the space bar repeatedly for the Mac to detect the monitor via the HDMI port on the monitor.

The DP 1.4 (5K) connection on this monitor is not recognized by the M1 MacBook Air at all no matter what I do. It works just fine with the 2020 MacBook Pro (10th generation Intel CPU).

Apple admitted to me (after a month of me badgering them and demanding that the ticket be sent to Engineering again and again) that the M1 Macs have an issue with DP1.4 not being recognized.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fumi2014 Avatar
18 months ago
I've had this issue since I bought my Mac mini M1. USB-C to Display Port (cable straight from the Mac mini to the display - no hubs or anything). At least once a day, it will not wake long enough to detect the display. When this happens, I can VNC in and everything looks fine.


* It's almost as though the signal to wake isn't being transmitted or detected long enough to really wake the display.
* When this wake issue happens, on my monitor, NEC PA301W, I also get an error warning me that the display input has not been detected. Even though I keep my Mac running all the time. It's not like I'm even asking the Mac to wake from sleep.
* But the only way in is by powering off the monitor. When it comes back, sometimes it's all I need to do. Occasionally, the resolution has gone to hell and I have to go in and redo all my open windows.
* It happens often enough now that I know it's a genuine fault.
* For the last few years, I had an Intel MacBook Air connected to this display and I never once had the 'Wake' issue.



Honestly, I've been tearing my hair out over this. Hope this thread gets some good visibility and Apple sort it.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
star-affinity Avatar
18 months ago
An SMC reset ('https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295') doesn't help?

By the way, I think having more than one display connected in macOS is handled pretty badly compared to Windows 10 as far as what I know is possible.

Things I'm missing in macOS that Windows 10 can do:


* In software, disable one of the connected display as if it was disconnected despite being physically connected and turned on.
* Have the Dock (Task Bar in Windows) displayed on both (or all) displays at the same time.
* [S]Have the menu bar being displayed on both (or all) displays at the same time (well in Windows each menu bar follows the application window, but in practice it becomes like having a menu bar on each display if having one app on each display).[/S]


Or am I missing some setting in macOS to achieve something like the above?

Edit:
OK, I see the menu bar is on both the MacBook Pro 13" (2018) display and my external display using Big Sur 11.2 here at work. Don't know why the menu bar only show up on on the main display of my old Mac Pro (2010) with Big Sur 11.2 at home. At the same time Big Sur isn't officially supported on that computer, so can't really complain I guess...

Edit 2:
The menu bar missing on my second screen was due to the setting Displays have separate spaces being disabled in Apple meny -> System Preferences -> Mission Control.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
anshuvorty Avatar
18 months ago
I can confirm that I am having this issue as well. Here is my issue in more detail:

* I have a 34-inch 3440 x 1440 Ultrawide monitor connected to a Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock via Displayport to USB-C cable.
* Whenever I connect the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C (from the dock) to the USB-C cable into my M1 MBA, the monitor doesn't activate.
* The only solution that I found was to remove the USB-C to USB-C cable from my laptop, open the lid, and connect the cable again. At this point, the monitor is detected in macOS 11.2, and then I can close the lid again.

A little annoying, but I am not too flustered by this issue.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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