On September 20, 2016, Apple released a new operating system, macOS Sierra (10.12), and as with all other operating system upgrades while there can be exciting new features, there is also the potential for new issues with existing hardware and software.
Update 9/30/16: Apple’s pre-release update to Sierra (“10.12.1 Beta 2”) improves many of the problematic Sierra behavior outlined below. Please see Workarounds at the bottom of the page for instructions on how to enroll in Apple’s Beta Software Program.
Update 10/21/16: After Beta 2, things regressed again. In Beta 5, there are reports of DisplayLink displays not working at all. See DisplayLink’s Mac Forum for more details.
With regard to Plugable’s DisplayLink-based USB video adapters and docking stations there’s been a long history of Mac OS upgrades starting with OS X 10.9 causing undesirable behavior, and we have written extensively about these issues over the years:
Multiple Monitor Issues with OS X 10.9/Mavericks
Plugable products on 10.10/Yosemite
Notes on DisplayLink’s previous Mac beta driver
Due to these issues, from OS X 10.9 onward we actually stopped recommending our DisplayLink-based products on Mac for most users. (Though with a few very specific exceptions for certain products such as the UD-ULTCDL Triple Display Docking Station where the lower performance of the second and third displays is less impactful given the uncompromised native-GPU performance of the primary/Alt Mode HDMI output.)
Even still, many Mac users felt the benefits of multiple monitors outweighed the various issues related to USB graphics on OS X, and subsequent DisplayLink driver updates had resolved most of the key outstanding bugs while continuing to improve performance. All told, the state of DisplayLink on Mac had improved dramatically over the past year.
With the latest macOS Sierra (10.12) and the accompanying Sierra-compatible release of DisplayLink’s driver version 2.6 for Mac we are sad to say that the trend of new macOS versions posing challenges for DisplayLink users continues unabated, and unfortunately there appear to be significant regressions as many bugs previously fixed by DisplayLink have returned.
DisplayLink has detailed release notes with the current known issues and limitations and have also provided a knowledgebase article with more information here. Some of the most significant known issues documented by DisplayLink:
- Incomplete rendering of window contents in some applications, for example Safari and App Store
- Black contents in applications windows when moved to a DisplayLink screen
- Internal screen blank at login with password when USB screens are connected
- Graphical corruption and/or missing windows contents in some applications and window borders
- The window server can crash logging our the user when minimizing applications, for example iTunes or Mission Control
DisplayLink has stated that in order to help improve things bringing these issues to Apple’s attention is required and is actively encouraging any users affected by these issues to open bug reports with Apple (details are in the knowledge-base article above) so Apple can appropriately prioritize the resolution of these issues.
Until such time as the above key issues can be addressed, we strongly recommend any Plugable customers using DisplayLink-based products to not upgrade to macOS Sierra at this time. Please feel free to comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional questions or feedback.
Option 1, rolling back to 10.11: For those who have already installed Sierra and wish to roll-back to El Capitan, imore has published a guide covering the (unfortunately somewhat lengthy and complex) process.
Option 2, installing 10.12.1 Beta 2: Many of the issues listed above are resolved with a beta/pre-release Sierra update from Apple.
Please note that Beta software, by definition, has bugs and known-issues. DisplayLink USB graphics behavior is drastically improved with this beta, but there could be other applications which behave unexpectedly or not at all after installing this pre-release Operating System.
For those who wish to install 10.12.1 Beta 2, follow Apple’s steps below to enroll in their free beta program:
- Head over to: https://beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram/
- Sign up for the program by logging in with your Apple ID
- Scroll down to the “Get Started” section, click the “enroll your Mac” link
- Scroll down to the “Download the public beta access utility” section and click the link to download the utility
- After downloading the utility, run the utility and follow the instructions
- After you’ve completed enrollment, the Mac App Store will launch to display the Updates pane. You can click the Update button to install the latest macOS public beta. If there is not a macOS public beta available, you will receive a notification from the Mac App Store when it is released.