Are you interested in mounting your iMac or a monitor on an articulated arm connected to either your desk or a wall? I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of requests I’ve had about this topic over the past year. Here’s a primer on what you should know. When you start to look into mounting a computer or monitor, you quickly hear the term VESA mount. VESA mount refers to a family of standards defined by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) for mounting flat panel monitors, TVs, and other displays to stands or wall mounts.
The most common VESA standard that you will encounter as you mount an Apple iMac or monitor is the VESA 100 standard. Briefly, the VESA 100 standard indicates that the back of the iMac or monitor will have a plate or bracket with 4 holes that are at the 4 corners of a square which is 100 mm on a side. Apple sells such brackets. Then you can use this bracket to mount the iMac or monitor on a VESA desk or wall mount that is also VESA 100 compliant. This implies that it has a matching bracket with appropriately spaced holes so you can easily connect your iMac or monitor to it.
There are a few tricky details to deal with when trying to mount an iMac — it’s weight and whether or not the iMac is VESA compliant in the first place.
The oldest iMac which is VESA-compliant is the 24″ white iMac released in late 2006. EveryMac has good articles that which of the white and aluminum iMacs are VESA-compliant. Use these articles to see if the iMac you already own is VESA-compliant. An iMac that is VESA-compliant indicates that the iMac’s built-in aluminum stand can be removed and replaced with a VESA mount adapter.
If you own a VESA-compliant iMac then you’ll need to buy an appropriate VESA mount adapter for your model. Please contact Apple to make sure you buy the correct VESA bracket for your iMac. Or, better yet, take your iMac to an Apple Store or Apple-authorized service center to have them perform the surgery to connect the VESA bracket.
If you own a non-VESA compliant iMac this means that your iMac’s aluminum stand can’t be removed, but don’t fret. Two ingenious third-parties have developed contraptions that connect to your iMac’s aluminum stand to let you then connect the iMac, stand-and-all, to a VESA mount. Ergomart and iMacMount [Note July 2021: iMacMount appears to be out of business] both sell such products. I don’t have any personal experience with either of these products. They both look sturdy. Ergomart’s $45 triangular plate bolts to the iMac’s stand. The iMacMount ($79) uses the iMac’s stand’s hole to attach its adapter. Ergomart also sells a handful of desk mount and wall mount VESA mounts so the one-stop shopping could be convenient.
If you’re buying a new iMac with the intention to mount it, you can order the iMac with the bracket pre-installed. (Important note: I learned the hard way that Apple does not include screws with their VESA bracket. So, you’ll need to buy them. Specifically, you’ll need M4 x 10mm screws with a .7 mm thread pitch. This thread pitch appears to be the standard pitch for such screws. While 10 mm is adequate length, the bracket can accommodate a screw up to 20 mm in length. M4 screws are 4 mm in diameter.)
You should determine your iMac’s weight so you can pick a VESA mount that is rated to support that much weight, or more, ideally. At the light end, current iMacs weigh as little as 13 pounds. At the heavy end 27″ iMacs made in 2009 and 2010 weigh 30.5 pounds. To determine your Mac’s weight use Apple’s Tech Specs or EveryMac. Ergomart’s web site has a note that indicates that if your iMac weighs more than 15 pounds or if you anticipate moving your iMac frequently then you should opt for the HD spring tilter option. Ergomart does a nice job of recommending specific VESA mounts for iMacs and offers both desk-mount and wall-mount options. Pay attention to desk-mounted VESA mounts. Some products clamp to the desk while others are held in-place with screws. I would be leary of connecting a $1000+ iMac to a mount that is held in place by a clamp. I would prefer a desk mount that has screws or a wall-mounted option.
Most of Apple’s monitors are not VESA-compliant, but some are. I couldn’t find a definitive list of which Apple monitors are VESA-compliant, but Apple does have this page about 3 models of their Cinema displays. You could also pull-up Apple’s technical specifications for your Apple monitor to make the determination yourself. If you have an non-Apple monitor then you’ll need to locate its technical specifications to find out if it’s VESA-compliant. Apple currently sells a VESA mount adapters for their newer Cinema or Thunderbolt Displays. Many other companies sell VESA mounts. One client recently bought this Ergotron desk-mounted VESA mount and he really likes it.
I hope this information helps you assess your options for mounting your iMac, Apple display or third-party monitor.