What are the differences between and limitations of the DisplayLink Manager Application and Legacy DisplayLink Driver for macOS?

Last Update: November 29th, 2023
Article ID: 724337

Plugable’s DisplayLink-based products are supported with macOS with the installation of the DisplayLink software. 

There are 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), with each version aligning with different versions of macOS. When first introduced there were several differences between the two driver versions. Over time, these differences have become fewer with updates to both the DisplayLink Manager and macOS, however this article is being retained for historical reference.

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.

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.

Links to the latest DisplayLink driver versions for each version of macOS as well as installation instructions can be found on the “Downloads” tab of applicable products, or at www.plugable.com/displaylink

New DisplayLink Manager Graphics Connectivity App
‘Legacy’ DisplayLink driver
Supported operating system versions
macOS 10.15 Catalina, macOS 11 Big Sur, macOS 12 Monterey, macOS 13 Ventura, macOS 14 Sonoma
macOS 10.14 Mojave and macOS 10.15 Catalina
Ease of installation
Can sometimes be more difficult, as compared to the new App
Supports closed-display mode (aka clamshell mode)

- No with macOS 10.15 Catalina and macOS 11 Big Sur on Intel-based systems

- Yes with macOS 12 Monterey on Intel-based systems (an external power source must be connected to the Mac)

- Yes with macOS 11 Big Sur, macOS 12 Monterey, macOS 13 Ventura, and macOS 14 Sonoma on Apple CPU-based systems (an external power source must be connected to the Mac)

Supports display ‘rotation’

- No with macOS 10.15 Catalina

- Yes with macOS 11 Big Sur and macOS 12 Monterey on Intel CPU systems

- No with macOS 11 Big Sur on Apple CPU-based systems

- Yes with macOS 12 Monterey, macOS 13 Ventura, and macOS 14 Sonoma on Apple CPU-based systems using DisplayLink Manager version 1.6 and later ***

Supports macOS ‘Login screen’
Yes, with additional ‘Login screen’ application installation
Supports display color adjustment Beta support available via 3rd-party application f.lux starting with DisplayLink Manager version 1.7.1**** No
Via DisplayLink icon within the Apple Menu bar
No management application
Development status
Actively being developed
Being phased out due to changes within macOS

*** Display rotation on Macs with an Apple CPU is accomplished within the DisplayLink Manager Application. It is NOT accomplished via the 'Displays' System Preferences application. More information on this feature is available here: Link

**** There is a 3rd-party application called 'f.lux' that allows the adjustment of a display's color according to the time of day. This functionality is in 'beta' status, and must be enabled within the DisplayLink Manager Application in order to function. This functionality is supported with devices based on the DisplayLink DL-3xxx chipset, DL-5xxx chipset, and DL-6xxx chipset.  However, it is important to note that on DL-6xxx chipsets this functionality is limited to DisplayPort video outputs only. It is NOT supported on HDMI video outputs via DL-6xxx chipsets.