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Duet Display on MacBook and iPad

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macOS 10.13.4 Breaks Third-Party Dual-Display Systems

We’re hearing reports, such as this comment from Dana Stevens, that the recent update to macOS 10.13.4 High Sierra is breaking third-party dual-display systems (see “macOS 10.13.4 High Sierra Adds Business Chat and External GPU Support,” 30 March 2018).

MacObserver says the products affected include the hardware-based DisplayLink, along with the app-based Air DisplayDuet, and iDisplay. However,  the problem doesn’t affect secondary displays that connect directly to the Mac via Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt.

In an email to Air Display users, Avatron wrote:

We’re sorry to say that the Air Display Host software does not yet work on macOS 10.13.4. This new version of macOS has made some bold changes to its WindowServer and Metal frameworks, and unfortunately has broken the Air Display Host, as well as all of our competitors. The breakage is severe; it causes an inelegant system crash when you try to connect to any unaccelerated display or USB monitor. We have reported the bug to Apple and are hoping for a fix in macOS 10.13.5.

Until Apple issues a fix, we do not advise updating to macOS 10.13.4. Of course Air Display continues to work fine on 10.13.3.

And Alban Rampon, a product manager at DisplayLink, shared a similar story in the company’s support forums, saying:

We are aware that installing macOS release 10.13.4 will cause DisplayLink connected displays to go blank after the OS upgrade when using DisplayLink driver v4.1. (Functionality such as Ethernet and/or audio, where implemented, is unaffected.) Extended display support continues to work as expected in mac OS 10.13.3.

The only workaround would seem to be to downgrade to macOS 10.13.3, which would likely involve installing an earlier version of High Sierra and then upgrading to 10.13.3 using the combo updater.

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Comments About macOS 10.13.4 Breaks Third-Party Dual-Display Systems

Notable Replies

  1. I am using Astropad Standard and it works fine on the latest macOS version. It’s not quite the same functionally as the other dual display systems but should suffice for many users.

  2. I wonder if the problem isn’t more pervasive. I run two ATD (27") units that were daisy chained to my MacPro. As soon as I upgraded/rebooted the second display on the chain was gone (no power and not in Sys Info.) I cabled it several other ways and was ready to conclude it was a hardware issue when a few days later I happened to connect form home over ARD and there it was and still there when I returned to the office. I will reboot at the end of the day and report back!

  3. How were they connected to the Mac Pro?

  4. Originally a “Daisy Chain” - MacPro (late 2013) to ATD to ATD. Now I have both displays connected direct. I just rebooted for the first time and all is well but for 3 or 4 days after the upgrade … nothing!

    This is reminiscent of the 10.13.2(?) upgrade when both home and office MacPro’s (with different dual display setups) started crashing during screen sleep. The fix was to always Log Out then .3 fixed it.

    Gremlins and Demons!

  5. I was very surprised this evening to find my new Macbook Air in process of rebooting to a just updated 10.13.4 when I picked it up this evening. It hasn’t caused any trouble YET, and I don’t have a second screen running with it, but I had made a point of avoiding updating. Apparently the default App store preferences had been set at the factory was to Install system data files and security updates, and it decided to do so several days after I had bought it. So if you want to avoid updating, be sure you check the App Store settings.

  6. I have my prefs set up to allow only “install system data files and security updates” but not “macOS updates”. And in my case 10.13.4 was not auto-installed as I’d expect. Are you sure you didn’t have “Install macOS updates” checked?

    In principle I don’t want anything installed without my knowledge or my explicit consent. So I would like to have turned off all those options. However, I recall there was some lower-level updates that would only take place if you’d check the “system data files and security updates” box with no other simple way to have those updates otherwise take place. I think there was actually a TidBITS article with the details not so long ago. My compromise was to turn on only that option.

  7. Perhaps I’m being dim, a good possibility, but I don’t understand how this problem is a “surprise” when the 10.13.4 update went through, I believe, 4 different betas that were available for testing by the general public of macOS users before it’s release as a GM.

    If no one saw this as a problem before its release, this would imply that Apple made the changes that caused this problem between the final beta and release of 10.13.4. Why would this happen as it would seem to defeat the purpose of having a wide range of folks try out the betas.

    Hopefully some informed reader of this site can help me understand what’s going on here!


  8. This has happened many times in the past. In fact, looking at the last few years, I’d say the more Apple has invested in beta programs and public betas and multiple testing releases, the more they have released buggy software. Either Apple cannot process feedback or public betas are a complete and total hoax.

  9. I think you’re at least half correct with that statement. Public betas are little more than publicity for the company and a gift for the ever-impatient and easily distracted end-user.

    I would be willing to bet a cream-filled donut that 99% of public beta users never test anything, or provide any feedback in the correct manner—but they sure do complain a lot in web forums like MacRumors, etc.

  10. Why yes, there was! And you really don’t want to turn off that checkbox.

  11. Adam, a user can turn off that checkbox if s/he installs and run SilentKnight periodically. SilentKnight will check all your firmware, updates and security files and update them for you with a single check.

    SilentKnight is the work of security researcher DIJ Oakley who runs a very interesting weblog mainly about Apple system updates. His article linked on SilentKnight covers some of the peculiarities and frustrations of dealing with Apple’s new strategy of forcing updates and Apple doubling down on hiding security information.

    This highlights an unintended consequence of Apple’s clumsy and ill-thought-out way to try to push more users to upgrade to Catalina: many will now disable updates altogether, or pull other tricks to be rid of this constant nagging. Keeping up to date with security updates and not getting annoyed with Software Update is going to be difficult.

    Oakley has also written LockRattler and SysHist. As impressive as they are as a technical achievement, neither do much to simplify keeping security files up to date. On my Classic Mac Pro, which currently passes most of the SilentKnight security update tests, LockRattler shows status of most security files in an alarming red colour (probably because I’m not on Catalina). SysHist does offer a history of one’s installs but it’s not much use, except forensically. SilentKnight on the other hand very elegantly tackles an important and real issue: making sure the Apple security data files are up to date on one’s computer.

    Anyone who runs SilentKnight regularly can turn off Apple’s bullying software updates mechanism, with its endless untimely interruptions and harassment of the user to install system updates s/he may not want. While DJI Oakley may not really be a saint, I’m prepared to nominate him for canonization for allowing us to maintain some control of our Apple computers.

  12. This can’t be repeated enough. And frankly, I’m surprised (and disappointed) not more of the tech community has jumped all over this. Apple’s overzealous marketing was simply given a pass with the result that many users are worse off security wise. Allowing unchecked marketing to sabotage security is something that should have been met with the harshest resistance. Too many outlets obviously trying not to “rock the boat”. Shame.

  13. blm

    Sorry, but that’s really terrible advice IMO. Yes, SilentKnight is great, as are a lot of Eclectic Light’s little utilities. However:

    • It doesn’t run automatically, so the user has to remember to do so.
    • Even if the user can remember that, will they be aware enough to always be up-to-date? Even a few days not up-to-date leaves a machine vulnerable.
    • How quickly will SilentKnight be updated if Apple makes incompatible changes? Presumably Software Update will be updated at the same time the changes are made, but SilentKnight… :man_shrugging:

    While I agree how Apple handles the update process and UI is terrible, turning off all the update checking is going to leave you vulnerable for at least some percentage of the time, and if someone isn’t all that diligent, it will leave them vulnerable a lot of the time. You’re certainly free to do what you want, but please don’t recommend others leave themselves vulnerable.

  14. That particular check box has nothing at all to do with any interruptions or harassment. All data and security file updates are done in the background with no notifications, interruption of computer use and are 100% unnoticeable unless you have hacked your system to provide a notification of some sort.

  15. @al, alas that’s not the case. If these boxes are checked, you will consistently get persistent update notifications for the OS (to Catalina if your computer can handle it) and even for every additional application you have installed. If the checkmarks are disabled, the interruptions start.

    @blm If users can’t handle running SilentKnight, perhaps they shouldn’t be computing on a computer exposed to the open internet. We are speaking about adults right? Mostly college-educated adults?

    Frankly, I’ve found Apple quite unreliable about updating those security files without SilentKnight. The original purpose of SilentKnight was to gather and force those updates when Apple failed to do so with the built-in utilities. My own research has borne out this issue.

    @Simon Thanks for your kind words. It’s discouraging to find oneself attacked for endangering safe computing worldwide when my only goal here is to provide adult advice to other experienced power users. Strange to find oneself accused of apostasy.

  16. blm

    I think you vastly overestimate the tech savviness of the general public. As de facto tech support guy for family and a number of friends, I could tell you stories… And it has nothing to do with education, it has to do with interest in computers beyond just as tools. Some people (like TidBITS readers) have that interest, lots of others don’t. And even among those that do have that interest, trading an automatic update procedure for something one has to remember to do manually only invites problems.

    Our experiences differ then. I periodically run SilentKnight (and before that, Critical Updates), and it’s never (literally never) found something out-of-date.

  17. I was only referring to the one check box for “Install system data files and security updates.” That specific box does not produce any notifications about Catalina or anything else.

    And as to reliability, my broad research reveals that most users find it very reliable now. I had personal issues with my Sierra experience, but no problems since then. It’s important to note that it can take up to 24 hours before a given computer is updated after such updates are released. Even longer if the Mac is asleep or shut down.

  18. The essence of this argument is that since some people are incapable of learning to use a computer properly, everyone’s computer must be locked down and restricted from using third party applications, we should not be able to choose how or where to store application data, we should be forced to update to the latest (usually beta and broken) version of everything, we should have to abandon very valuable legacy software. Not to forget I should be mandated to throw into the great human garbage heap i7 quad, hex and dodeca processor work stations and laptops.

    Sorry I’m not buying that. I’m an environmentally conscious person who strives to reduce his own footprint. I do sophisticated work with my computers and intend to maintain control of them. Declining OS quality and more obstructive security theatre from Apple probably means Mojave will be the last Apple OS I will use in production. Tim Cook has effectively driven me to Linux in the long term. Happily Mojave offers me at least another five years of productive computing; Snow Leopard served admirably as a primary operating system for ten years, while mature El Capitan offered me three good years between late 2016 and late 2019.


    I was only referring to the one check box for “Install system data files and security updates.” That specific box does not produce any notifications about Catalina or anything else.

    Sadly those days are over. if you are on the latest version of Mojave (10.14.6) or High Sierra (don’t have the number to hand now), you will get OS update notifications if anything is enabled.

    What’s even more misleading is that if your machine is on an older version of the OS (pick anything from El Capitan through Mojave) and you user any of the iWork applications (Numbers, Keynote, Pages), you will be pushed to upgrade the application which requires an OS upgrade which your computer may not even be able to handle (all Classic Mac Pros and MBP 2011 included).

    I’d be glad if someone told me how to disable nagging in-app updates: every time I launch one of the latest compatible iWork apps in High Sierra, I get a pop-up telling me to update to Mojave in order to install the newest app (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) which I’m not planning to do ever. It’s possible with some 3rd party apps by changing corresponding keys in the app’s bundle’s Info.plist with defaults but I don’t find such keys in any of Apple’s app’s Info.plist file.

    This is Apple deliberately misleading and baiting users while obstructing constructive work. No doubt some here will find excuses for this kind of anti-user behaviour but this all reminds me of Microsoft’s approach to their users and not the Apple of Steve Jobs (v2, post-Pixar; v1 was brilliant but very controlling). It’s that second version of a more open and user-friendly Apple which lured old hands like Adam or myself in.

    In the meantime, I paid good money for Duet in the hopes of being able to use my iPad Pro 12.9 2019 as a second monitor with my MBP when on the road. To be able to do so, I would have had to remain on El Capitan. This is not user-friendly. I’ve lost money, time and nerves to this issue. This kind of deliberate breaking of third-party functionality does not engender trust or loyalty.

    Had I known about this kind of breakage, I probably wouldn’t have bought such an iPad (would have been content with much less expensive 10" iPad or iPad Air to experiment with). If anyone does have a really good solution for the Duet issue on High Sierra, I’m all ears. Installing the DisplayLink drivers does get operations back but it’s very buggy and slow and your iPad screen will show black letterboxing bars on the side. Not worth using at all at this level of functionality.

  19. Duet has been Sherlocked. If your MBP is from 2016 or later, Catalina’s provides the capability of using your iPad Pro as a 2nd monitor via Sidecar. See here.

  20. blm

    That’s not the essence of the argument I’m participating in, not even close, not even in the same galaxy. I’m out.

  21. Duet seems to work on my 2019 16" MBP running Catalina and 2nd gen 12.9" iPad Pro running iPadOS on a quick test. I do worry about the incentive to keep maintaining it in the long run

  22. I previously used Duet. As I recall, it manipulated some fairly deep system resources. I always found it was best to run a complete uninstall of the app (not just dragging the app to the trash) and then a reinstall when doing system updates. On at least one occasion, not doing that messed up things royally.

    So, while Duet does run in Catalina, I would not expect it to survive for a long time, especially since Apple provides users with most of the same functionality at no extra charge.

  23. Alan, thanks for your well-meant suggestion. My MacBook Pros all date from 2011, the last 17 inch (I have one 15 inch as well, which I bought first as a mistaken attempt to downsize screen: hasn’t seen as much use as the two 17 inchers), the last MBP until the recent 16 inch to include a non-butterfly keyboard and to allow user upgrades.

    As you may know, the MBP 2011 stops at High Sierra (officially and effectively, I’m not much interested in an elaborate Hackintosh install with disabled graphic card). Even if I had a 2014 MBP, Sidecar doesn’t work. More Apple fun and games trying to offer its users less than they paid for (Duet no longer works right due to Apple’s changes, Sidecar won’t work if not very recent hardware; that Duet worked before indicates this is not a hardware issue but a deliberate sabotaging of the experience of those not on recent hardware).

    Were I have to own a more recent MBP, I would be very reluctant to install Catalina at all. I wish to maintain access to 32 bit applications and I do not appreciate the overly complex drive structure which Apple is forcing on OS X users in the peculiar and unpleasant (to me) effort to turn OS X into iOS.

    What I’d like to see is Duet working properly again on 10.13 and 10.14. Something I’m unlikely to ever see. I’ve paid for it, I’ve paid for my hardware, I’ve paid for my company’s hardware, I’ve paid for a great deal of third party software in the App store (and more elsewhere but that’s not Apple’s affair). Another brick in the wall as Pink Floyd would say.

  24. Mark, do you have a Mojave install running on any of your Macs? When I tried on my Classic MacBook Pro with Mojave, Duet would not work properly and showed black letterboxing on both sides (not top and bottom). If someone else has Duet running properly on a similar setup, I’m willing to take another go at it.

    For real world use, it’s much more important to me that Duet run well on High Sierra for use on the road with the 3 x 2011 MBP (aging very gracefully: 16GB RAM - 2 TB SSD) which I and my wife run. For the Mojave CMP (Radeon RX580, 10 TB of SSD inside) there are 2 x 4K monitors attached to my main CMP.

    Duet working well under High Sierra is what would really help me. Only the 15 inch is still running El Capitan and it’s scheduled for an update to High Sierra to be able to run DxO PhotoLab 3 and to keep the OS in sync across all the computers I use (single set of problems/workaround/workflows, or in this case two, High Sierra for MBP’s and Mojave for CMP’s). Until November 2019, it was El Capitan everywhere. Until 2016 I deployed Snow Leopard everywhere as once sorted it was troublefree computing for ten years. Along the road, I did test Yosemite for deployment but stuck with Snow Leopard as after Yosemite failed testing (the nasty networking issues with the failed introduction of discoveryd).

  25. In that case, we simply have a different definition for “notifications.” I was referring to some sort of dialog box interrupting my work and urging me to update, not the red “1” bubble on the System Preferences icon nor the indication in Software Updates informing me that I can update. I don’t find either to be “bullying software updates mechanism, with its endless untimely interruptions and harassment of the user to install system updates s/he may not want.” I can and have easily ignored those sort of things for years.

  26. I disgaree entirely with that. IMHO @aleckinnear is right on the money. A red badge that the user cannot remove is a distraction. We’ve been trained to react to red badges because they convey that there’s new information we should pay attention to and possibly react to.

    Part of my work involves designing control systems for multi-billion $ experiments. One thing you learn in such design is to never ever have a control indication that people are told to ignore (that’s BTW part of what led to the Chernobyl disaster). If a warning is shown, it has to be there and people have to react to it. If OTOH it’s something people can ignore, the operator has to be able to make it disappear. You never train people to ignore warnings.

    Apple has deprived users of the option to remove and is essentially forcing people to learn to ignore/hide badges. And that’s just bad design plain and simple. The only reason they’re doing it is because they’re frantically trying to pad their Catalina adoption numbers (perhaps because there’s not enough real reasons to update? honi soit qui mal y pense). Misguided leadership has let marketing trump user experience. And so IMHO Apple deserves all the public shaming flak they catch for this baloney.

  27. I do still the 2012 MBP/Retina that the 16" replaced, and I’ve kept it in case I need to run any of my 32-bit software. Duet was working there the last time I tried it, but I never tried to make much production use of it.

    I’ll try to give it a shot the next time I can get to that computer.

  28. Except that annoying is much different from "bullying software updates mechanism, with its endless untimely interruptions and harassment of the user to install system updates s/he may not want.”

    And the ability to ignore/hide badges was never meant to be a user option. It was a feature provided to enterprise IT’s in order to allow them time to fully test updates in their environments before allowing them to be deployed to their users. Unfortunately, it was leaked to ordinary users to defeat Apple’s intent to urge users to update. Rumor has it that enterprise IT’s will soon be able to use that feature, but only in controlled business environments.

    I probably dislike Apple’s tactic of promoting upgrades just as much as you do and you should feel free to express such directly to them, although I doubt it will have the desired result.

  29. IMHO that’s letting Apple off the hook far to easily,

    OS X used to offer an ignore setting that would be honored. It allowed users to acknowledge they’ve been made aware and didn’t need to be nagged anymore. At some point Apple took that option away from users because apparently they felt imposing the will of their marketing dept on users was more important than choice.

    Well I’ve always been pro choice. Give me my ignore option back. I’m a big boy, I don’t need nanny Apple to tell me what it is I want. Thankyouverymuch.

    [And yes, I do complain about this straight to Apple. As do about half the faculty in my department.]

  30. I’m with Al on this one—particularly in iOS, there are so many red-badged icons that the badges are now meaningless and I interpret them as just part of the icon they’re on. On my first Home screen alone, I have seven red-badged icons and folders. I don’t even know what they go to, and I don’t really care. In my Dock in Catalina, I apparently have three red-badged icons but again, whatever. The badges don’t convey any useful information that I won’t get to in my normal usage anyway (App Store updates, Spark new mail, and Slack messages) so I never even notice them.

    Actual notifications that pop up on the screen and require me to dismiss them are an entirely different story, especially if they repeat every day.

    But it sounds like different people here have different levels of sensitivity, so let’s leave it at that.

  31. But then why don’t we get rid of badges altogether?

  32. For most apps, you can turn off badges:

    • iOS: Settings > Notifications
    • macOS: System Preferences > Notifications

    Some things, like System Preferences, aren’t customizable, and I can see Apple’s rationale for limiting some system-wide notification preferences.

    I’ve never taken the time to turn them off because they don’t bother me enough.

  33. It’s by far not just mission critical stuff. It’s marketing.

    On Catalina I have no option to turn off the annoying TV badge hounding me to subscribe to Apple TV+. Unlike iOS, by the way where I was able to get rid of it by just opening the app and seeing their ad. On the Mac, nothing. It’s just rude towards your paying customers. :roll_eyes:

  34. @Simon is right: Apple is training users to either:

    1. ignore bright red update notifications
    2. or blindly click on anything update related

    There seem to be two schools of thought:

    1. Trust Apple and do whatever Apple tells you, whenever Apple tells you, including jumping off a tall cliff. Based on the Snowden revelations, trusting Apple from 2012 is naive at best. Better than trusting Google or Facebook or LinkedIn but why should we trust any of these virtual monopolies who have painstakingly demonstrated their lack of concern with privacy or user comfort or convenience.
    2. Ignore Apple and cut off as many Apple services as possible.

    I’m steadily moving into the second category after many, many years in the first category. I just cancelled Apple Music today as I’d like to really shut down communication with the mothership and using any Apple services makes it much harder to cut off that communication. iCloud is long gone (Apple respects the privacy of your device until a court order comes, but it does not respect privacy for any data on iCloud: their compromise with the FBI). The way to cut Apple off is to run a script like this which disables most of those dross “essential” services at the level of LaunchAgents.

    The original reason the poster/author decided to do so was to reduce unnecessary chatter in logs and to reduce the frequency of stray processes taking over a CPU, as well as to reduce internet bandwidth. These are also very good reasons to run a lean ship. Privacy is the number one reason in my case.

    For those naysaysers who suggest that OS X cannot run without full time access to Apple’s servers with dozens and dozens of Apple LaunchAgents, I have this script in production on two work computers, one of which is used by a non-expert/ordinary user. I’m not suggesting that an ordinary user could install and run these scripts him or herself but once they’ve been run, an ordinary user can use and maintain the computer, including installing most updates, without issue.

    No I’m referring to interruption based notifications like this:


    This is an El Capitan version of that interruption based update notification panel, but I’ve been facing it every day on Mojave for Security Update 2020-003 (the second one which has the same name as the first one: Apple really shouldn’t be confusing users by offering two updates with the same name). Since I’ve run that update already I can’t capture the current version easily.

    It’s interruption based update notifications like this (which can get a user in very big trouble, as Apple will go as far as starting a full system update based on this notice) which have pushed me to turning off all the Software Update notices. As I mentioned earlier, using SilentKnight regularly provides more reliable security updates with much better notice on failure than the Apple’s behind-the-scenes version.

    Your mileage may vary. I’m someone who shoots his cameras in full manual mode most of the time (aperture mode if I’m feeling lazy) and drives a manual shift car. My bicycles all have Deore XT thumbshifters with indexing disabled. Thumbshifters work for decades with almost no service (why Shimano retired them) and by removing indexing I can shift more gears smoothly (three at a time) and tune the chain to make no noise on either front or rear derailleur by micro-adjustment based on what I hear. Indexed shifting unless checked twice week and adjusted will rattle on many gear combos. There’s some combos which never run silently with indexed shifting.

    It’s people like me who kept Apple afloat in the late nineties and through the early noughts. We’re now a rounding error but it’s thousands of people like me who opened the mind of dozens of co-workers, employees and family to Apple computers. It’s people like me departing Apple who will make a flavour of Linux finally a viable and secure alternative to Apple and Microsoft.

    I’m not gone yet though: I’ve another three or four years of High Sierra/Mojave as my main environment and then another five years where I’ll have some Mac Pros offline to run some of the media applications which don’t run on Macs. Mainly thanks to you, @ace, I’ve given iPhones and iPads a second chance this year. Apple is genuinely far ahead of Android in terms of an intuitive and secure mobile environment: there is no viable Linux or open source option there (yes, I know about LineageOS and salute it but it’s rebadged Android). In passing, iOS would be much more powerful if Apple would stop crippling file management to force users to use iCloud. At the prices we pay for top of the line hardware, one would think Apple wouldn’t feel obliged to force feed users their services.

    Again, in the meantime, it would be very nice if Apple would allow me to use my iPad Pro 12.9 inch 2018 with their High Sierra OS. I’m even willing (and have, via Apple’s own app store) pay for third party software to let me do it.

  35. I generally turn off all notifications. I leave them on only for specific apps where notifications are important - like Messages and Calendar. For almost everything else, they’re completely disabled.

    I really don’t care if it’s my turn to play Words With Friends, for example. I’ll see it’s my turn when I decide to launch the app and I don’t care if Zynga would like me to interrupt my work in order to play their games all day.

  36. That’s exactly what I do too. Which makes it even more annoying when certain apps show badges and you have zero options to get rid of that badge.

  37. You keep straying from my original contention. That particular notification has nothing to do with the “Install system data files and security updates.” check box, but I’ll go ahead and comment on it since nobody else has.

    I only see that notification when a regular (not background) update has already been downloaded to /Library/Updates/. That will only happen if you have “Download new updates when available” enabled or you have chosen to “Update Now” for a macOS or Security Update and also clicked “Not now” when asked if you want to install after download. If you don’t want that notification to interrupt you then don’t do either of those things.

  38. That’s certainly my understanding as well.

  39. Al, I never enable “Download new updates when available”. I only ever allow Security Updates. With security files only configuration, I’m stuck with these software update notices. It’s hard to accept I know but Apple is deceiving us with the options in Software Update.

    The only way to get away from them is not to allow Software Update to run at all.

    The way to deal then with the security data files which Apple makes available to every user (and which thank heavens run without new software, just new data) is to use SilentKnight.

  40. You’re right. Sigh. When all that really would be needed is a return of

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