How to connect Apple 30-inch Cinema Display to USB-C at high resolution

Having just got my new 2020 27″ iMac set up with my old Apple 30″ Cinema Display connected as a second monitor – no trivial task – I thought I should leave the instructions here for anyone else who wants to do the same.
Here’s what you need:
• A free USB-C port on the Mac.
• A USB-C to Mini Display Port adaptor (around $15). From what I’ve read, this needs to be able to accept input from an active (externally powered) DVI adaptor (evidently some don’t).
• A Mini Display Port to active dual-link DVI adaptor (over $100). This is the most crucial part. As well as the two connectors, it has a USB-A plug that is necesssary to supply power for the active link.
• Your trusty old Apple Cinema Display.

  1. Plug the first adaptor into your Mac.
  2. Plug the second adaptor into the first; plug the USB-A into the Mac.
  3. Plug the Cinema Display’s DVI plug into the DVI port.
  4. Power up.
  5. The Cinema Display will light up in low resolution.
  6. Open System Preferences: Displays.
  7. On the panel for the Cinema Display, find “Resolution”. Hold down the Option key and click on Scaled. Like magic, extra resolutions appear. Select 2500 × 1600. The screens will go black and then come up again.
    I found both connectors on Amazon: “Silebing09” brand and “StarTech” brand (MDP2DVID2).
    I am now a happy camper.

I have an old 30" Cinema display just sitting around with no purpose in life when Mirabile Dictu your article appears. Could you post a picture of your setup? TIA.

Here’s how it looks:

This is the cabling:

And this is how to select the full resolution:


There are also USB-C dual-link DVI adapters to avoid chaining adapters or using up another port to supply active power. For example, the StarTech model CDP2DVIDP explicitly supports the Apple Cinema Display and is available for a lot less than the list price on their site. I don’t know if other brands have better deals, this is just the first one I found.

I have a DELL 3007WFP which is 30" screen running 2560 x 1600. I use the Apple Dual-Link DVI adapter, which has a mini display port and USB-A port on one end, and a Dual-Link DVI adapter on the other.

I use a AllSmartLife USB-c to Mini DisplayPort adapter between my MacBook Pro 13" USB-C Touch Bar, and the Apple Dual-Link DVI adapter. I can’t remember the price, but it was quite inexpensive. It’s worked since late 2017 I think.


I noticed that the USB cable from the display isn’t connected to anything. I wonder if macOS would auto-detect the display’s resolutions if you would connect it to the computer.

I think that connection is also used for software control over the monitor’s brightness and contrast settings.

It might be worth a quick experiment. Since you’ve already got a USB cable from the computer into the cabling (for the DVI adapter), perhaps you can just slip a cheap non-powered hub in there to avoid using another port on the computer.


I agree with @Shamino. If the USB cable from my Cinema 30" isn’t connected to my 2010 Mac Pro, I get no picture at all on the Cinema Display! It’s definitely an important connection.

That’s an excellent suggestions, but I’ve just connected the USB cable from the monitor to the computer and it makes no difference. That’s not to say that it won’t bring other improvements.