No Sound or USB from Apple Thunderbolt Display

So you just paid €999…  €1016 for a beautiful 27-inch Thunderbolt display … and it is a beautiful piece of technology, built with typical Apple quality and beauty. I have the display in conjunction with a MacBok Pro and it works great…… most of the time. It’s great to be able to take the MBP out of the office, on location for shoots etc and upload / edit / delivers files etc. It is super handy then to come back into the office and plug it into the display where I can continue to work on the same files, on the same machine etc.

All was going well until I started to notice a problem with the sound on the display…. or more specifically the lack of sound. When playing music or watching videos etc on the laptop, the sounds comes from the laptop… correct. But once the display was connected, sometimes the sound would transfer to the display and come from the built in speakers and other times it would not. Very annoying.

Then I noticed that the printer that I have connected to the USB port on the display would not work sometimes and I never figured it out. It dawned on my one time that the printer didn’t work at the same time when the sound didn’t work. So the sound was linked to a USB issue. And so my googling began.

I soon found that this is a very common problem and there is no real fix just yet, just a workaround. Hopefully Apple will release an update for it soon. So anyway, here are some solutions that “Sometimes” works, and then one solution that always works.


  1. The display / video IS working correctly
  2. There is no sound coming from the display
  3. Any USB ports connected to the display do not work


Possible Solutions… They Sometimes work

  1. Plug out the Thunderbolt cable from the MacBook for a few seconds until the display turns off, and plug it back it… This might work
  2. Turn off the power of the display for a few seconds and turn it back on, try it both with and without the cable connected
  3. Restart your MacBook
  4. Talk nice to your Mackbook
  5. Go and make a cup of tea and after trying all of the above…. it works sometimes.

Guaranteed Solution

The only solution that works every time as of today, is to reset the PRAM settings on the macbook. It is where you restart your computer while holding down some keys and resets some memory settings. All I know is that it works. You can read about what it does on the Apple website here:


Procedure to Resetting NVRAM / PRAM

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command (⌘), Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
  3. Turn on the computer.
  4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys before the gray screen appears.
  5. Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
  6. Release the keys.

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