M1 mini and using a late 2013 iMac 27" as a monitor

I have seen talk about using the iMac as a monitor for the new M1 Mini. What I am wondering, however, is can I use the iMac for the monitor AND use the iMac’s 3 TB fusion drive as an external drive. I do not want to keep the application and OS X software on the iMac.

Finally, if I can should I want to? It seems it would be a lot lass expensive than buying a new 27" monitor and new memory. Data with OSX and application software now almost fills the 3 TB fusion drive. I have almost 2.4 TB photos.


I don’t think you can use your late 2013 iMac as a monitor for your M1 Mini. Your iMac supports Target Display mode via Thunderbolt, but the M1 macs don’t seem to be able to use it. See

To use the iMac as an external drive, you would have to boot it in Target Disk mode and use a USB-C to Thunderbolt adapter. It seems much simpler to me to get a small external drive with that capacity and hook it up to your Mac mini via an USB port.

Of course, you could also set your iMac up to share the files on your network and use it as a network drive.

If you manage to use your iMac as an external screen for the Mini, I’d love to hear how you did it!



Luna might work for the display sharing bit.

While not exactly doing what you asked about, I used my pre-M1 Mac mini without any monitor for a couple of years. When I actually needed to see it, I just used Screen Sharing. You may not be able to make full use of your 27" screen, however.

I’m assuming you have a local network (WiFi for iDevices mostly, but Ethernet is much easier and so much less expensive!). With that network, you should be able easily connect to any drives on either computer.

Hope this helps. :thinking:

Thank you all for your comments. I will certainly take them into account as I look at my options for upgrading. Years ago I had a Mac mini and I have fond memories of it. My first computer was an Apple 2 GS and I have stuck with Apple for all those 33 years. Technology shouldn’t be an emotional decision, but it is and I appreciate your help.


I should have remembered to link to the actual TidBITS article on the topic. Here it is.