How I Fixed My Mac Mini Headless Server From Showing Weird Display Errors

I’ve been using a late 2012 i7 Mac Mini as a headless server running Plex and other services for a few years. I noticed certain resolutions would be unavailable when I remote connected to it via OS X screen sharing and portions of the screen would often just appear black unless I dragged a window over them. Reading up on this issue it appears that if nothing is plugged into the Mini DisplayPort or the HDMI port the Mini does not load the OS X graphics drivers that allow for acceleration of the GUI and prohibits all available resolutions from displaying. This does not appear to be a problem solely relegated to Macs as others on Amazon reviews and across forum threads have commented on similar lackluster performance using their NUCs and other headless servers. I purchased the Compulab 4K Display Emulator and it has immediately solved these two problems. I’ll also say that I had success using Display Menu to switch to a higher resolution before purchasing the hardware dongle. The downside of using Display Menu was that the computer natively booted to 640 x 480 and the File Menu would go black when I switched the resolution to 1920 x 1080. Thanks to the 4K adapter pictured above I no longer have to adjust the resolution after boot up and I don’t get any graphics anomalies. Below is a screenshot of all available resolutions available with the dongle and Display Menu installed, the Mac Mini now natively boots to 1920 x 1080.

Display Menu Resolutions

Dennis "Fox" Bonilla has been a user experience designer, software developer, and digital strategist collaborating with some of the most successful and high-tech organizations in the world. Fox is a co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer at Baltu Technologies where he is helping create next generation workforce development tools. Fox started Unified Pop Theory with his friends in attempt to bookmark and comment on novel intersections of technology, science, and the arts. Fox is a trend finder and idea maker who is inspired by individuals that believe the world can be changed one great project at a time. Fox can be reached on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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