Plugable suggests DisplayLink users wait on macOS Sierra Upgrade [Updated]

Update 3/30/18: The post below relates primarily to macOS Sierra (10.12). Performance and stability on macOS High Sierra (10.13.3 and earlier only) with DisplayLink Mac driver version 4.1 is much improved.

For additional details please see the following post: macOS 10.13 High Sierra Significantly Improves DisplayLink Performance & Stability

Please note: High Sierra (10.13) is not compatible with previous DisplayLink Mac driver versions (3.x and 2.x). Please remove any previous DisplayLink driver versions via the DisplayLink uninstaller in your Applications folder prior to installing version 4.0.

DisplayLink Mac Driver Version 4.0

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 3/29/17: With the release of Sierra 10.12.4, behavior continues to improve; the blank internal screen at logon bug appears to be fixed or minimized.

The remaining issues being tracked by DisplayLink are (with Apple’s Bug ID noted where applicable):

  • Corrupted window title bar and widgets. To work around, select System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Display -> Reduce transparency (27244226)
  • Screen corruption in Finder when “Displays have separate Spaces” is disabled in the Mission Control system preference. (29825934)
  • The window server can crash logging our the user when minimizing applications, for example iTunes (23182216)
  • A few applications can show corruption and/or missing contents while updating windows contents. Examples are Maps, iBooks and the Dock (15319693, 19090583)
  • Corruption around window borders for Carbon applications, for example Microsoft Office 2011 (18552488)
  • Black menu bar on DisplayLink screens while mirroring (17703682)
  • Apple menu icon misplaced on DisplayLink screens

DisplayLink is still requesting that users file bug reports with Apple to aid in prioritizing these issues. We’re continuing to track the remaining issues and hope Apple chooses to resolve them quickly.

If you’re a Plugable user experiencing issues with Sierra and wish to be contacted when we have additional information, please send an email to support@plugable.com and we’ll be glad to provide updates as things develop.

Update 12/22/16: With the final release of Sierra 10.12.2, two key fixes from the Beta releases have now carried over to full release: Mission Control and other full-screen transitions should no longer trigger a Window Server crash/spontaneous log-out, and windows should no longer appear black when moved to a DisplayLink-attached display.

Update 11/21/16: The second Beta of 10.12.2 (build 16C41b) improves behavior even further and appears to fix two key outstanding bugs: Mission Control no longer crashes when DisplayLink is present, and the temporary corruption of window contents (“black window”) on DisplayLink-attached displays is significantly reduced.

Update 11/11/16: The first Beta of macOS 10.12.2 appears to offer improved behavior. Early results indicate spontaneous logouts during full-screen transitions have been eliminated or drastically reduced. We are hopeful this improved behavior will persist as new Beta versions are released in the coming weeks. The key remaining issue observed in 10.12.2 Beta 1 is some windows turn black when dragged to a DisplayLink-attached displays. Clicking or interacting with the window or application generally resolves the behavior.

Update 10/26/16: The final release of 10.12.1 appears to have fixed many of the performance-related regressions and graphical glitches found in earlier versions of Sierra. Issues are still present, however, involving full-screen transitions used by various applications such as Mission Control, Itunes, hot corners, and others.

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.

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.

Background

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.

Sierra Regressions

With the latest macOS Sierra (10.12) and the accompanying Sierra-compatible release of DisplayLink’s driver version 3.0 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

  • Blank internal screen 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 suggest Plugable customers using DisplayLink-based products to not upgrade to macOS Sierra at this time if possible. Please feel free to comment below or email us at support@plugable.com with any additional questions or feedback.

Workarounds

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.

To work around corrupted window title bar and widgets: select System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Display -> Reduce transparency.

To work around screen corruption in Finder: Enable “Displays have separate Spaces” in the Mission Control system preference.

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