This post provides background information and guidance to our customers who wish to use their Plugable DisplayLink-based products with Mac systems running macOS 11 Big Sur, macOS 10.15 Catalina, or macOS 10.14 Mojave.
The Current State of DisplayLink Products on macOS
On Thursday, November 12, 2020 Apple released the macOS 11 Big Sur operating system for supported Apple laptop and desktop systems. With this release we expect that many of our customers using a Mac in conjunction with our DisplayLink-based products (such as the UD-3900 and our other UD-series docking stations) will update to this new version.
Based on our internal testing, testing from DisplayLink, and user feedback, the newest DisplayLink drivers and Big Sur provide a positive user experience (though there are a couple of features like screen rotation and “clamshell mode” we hope to see enabled with future macOS and/or DisplayLink driver updates). We will continue to test and validate performance on Big Sur when we receive our new MacBooks based on the new “Apple Silicon” M1 CPU architecture in the coming weeks, and as always we deeply appreciate any user feedback as well.
As of this writing, there are two different versions of the macOS driver that have been released by DisplayLink (the separate company that makes the primary chip within our DisplayLink-based products, and who also develops the software driver).
A "legacy" version which uses a kernel extension in order to provide its functionality, and a newer DisplayLink Manager Graphics Connectivity App which utilizes a new architecture that does not rely on a kernel extension to provide its functionality:
Legacy Kernel Extension Driver
The legacy version is only recommended for those users running macOS Mojave 10.14 and macOS Catalina 10.15 and who are not planning to upgrade to a newer version of macOS. Please see the comparison table below for important information about certain limitations.
|New DisplayLink Graphics Connectivity App||Legacy DisplayLink Kernel Driver|
|Supported Operating System Version||macOS 10.15 (Catalina) and macOS 11 (Big Sur)||macOS 10.14 (Mojave) and macOS 10.15 (Catalina)|
|Ease of Installation||Straightforward||Can sometimes be more difficult, especially when compared to the new Graphics Connectivity App|
|Supports Closed-Display Mode|
|Supports Display 'Rotation'||
With macOS 10.15 (Catalina)
With macOS 11 (Big Sur) on systems with Intel CPUs
With macOS 11 (Big Sur) on systems with Apple CPUs (M1)
|Supports macOS 'Login Screen'||With additional 'Login screen' application installed|
|Manageability||Managed via DisplayLink icon within the Apple Menu Bar||No management application|
|Development Status||Actively being developed||Being phased out due to changes in macOS|
The choice of which driver to use is ultimately determined by one’s OS version and individual specific requirements, since each version offers different capabilities and operating system compatibility. We have provided a comparison table below that highlights their differences in an effort to help our customers make an informed decision.
Plugable’s DisplayLink-based products work well for most users and workflows on Macs with 10.14 and newer, with some limitations and difference noted in the table above. There are two different versions of the macOS DisplayLink driver, each with different functionality and operating system version compatibility. We want to provide background and context to our customers using our DisplayLink-based products with the Mac with regard to the different driver versions available and their respective capabilities.
If you are using a Plugable branded DisplayLink-based product with macOS and are having problems getting things working, please keep the Plugable product connected to your system (even though not working as expected) and send the output of our diagnostic utility PlugDebug to us directly via email@example.com and we will do our best to try and help. Also, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.