How to rotate a monitor and use it vertically in macOS

Adding an extra monitor to your Mac can be highly beneficial as it can improve your productivity, and make multi-tasking easier. The second monitor adds more screen real estate, and is normally used in landscape orientation. However, using a monitor vertically or in portrait orientation, can also improve your productivity and is more suited to some users.

In this article, you’ll learn how to rotate a monitor and use it in portrait orientation on your Mac. This requires both hardware and software adjustments.

Also see: The best 4K monitors

Why use a monitor in vertical orientation?

There are several reasons why you want to place a second external monitor in vertical orientation. If you’re someone who codes a lot, then a portrait monitor could be useful. It may also come in handy when you don’t have enough room on your desk. A a monitor in landscape mode takes more space that one placed vertically.

Since the display is now in vertical orientation, it also means that you don’t have to move your head around much. A vertical monitor setup can also be useful for those who read a lot of text, or long web pages, articles, documents, etc. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to use a monitor in vertical orientation.

Choosing a monitor for your Mac

While choosing an external monitor for you Mac, you’ll need to consider the following things.

  • Viewing angle – Make sure the monitor has good viewing angles even when it’s placed in a vertical orientation.
  • A monitor stand – Your new monitor will most likely come with a stand, but it may not support rotating the screen vertically. A new stand will offer this, and much more.
  • Multiple ports – Most modern monitors offer good input connections, and this is nice to have. Your Mac, if it’s a newer model, will offer Thunderbolt connectivity, which can support high resolution external displays.
  • A high-resolution display – Your Mac already offers a nice crisp screen, so you should probably get an external monitor that also offers 2K or higher resolution.

How to rotate a monitor in macOS

Now that you have your monitor, you’ll need to make some adjustments in macOS to use it vertically. Connect your monitor in landscape orientation and follow these steps to rotate the monitor in macOS.

1) Click the Apple logo in the Menu Bar and select System Preferences.

2) Choose Display. The settings for the connected monitor should appear on the external display.

3) Click on the Scaled option to reveal the Rotate drop down menu.

Scaled option macOS

4) Select Rotate and choose the degrees of rotation from 90 to 270 degrees. For vertical orientation, select 90 degrees when the chin of the monitor is on the left side after rotating it on its sides. If it’s on the left, then select 270 degrees.

Rotate option macOS

5) Click Confirm and rotate your monitor on its side.

Arranging a monitor in vertical orientation in macOS

Before you start using the external monitor in vertical orientation, it’s always best to make sure that the display arrangement is set properly in macOS. Here’s how to do that.

1) Navigate to Displays in System Preferences.

2) Select the Arrangement tab. You should see your primary display and the external monitor. The option will only appear on the main display.

Monitor arrangement macOS

3) Move the external display position in the diagram shown to match the main display so it’s easy for you to move your mouse from one screen to another.

If you want to use the external monitor as your main display, then you’ll need to move the white bar from the main screen to the external display. Once everything is set, you can start using your new monitor in vertical orientation. macOS can sometimes get the resolution wrong, and may not use the best recommended resolution for the monitor. You can change this when you select the Scaled option on the external monitor.

Wrapping up

Rotating an external monitor in macOS can be useful for specific uses. It’s quite easy to set up and use a monitor on your Mac, which instantly increases screen real estate. If you run in to any issues, you could check out our tutorial on fixing external display issues on your Mac.