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Changing the Screen Resolution of External Monitor When It is Not Visible

I like connecting an external monitor to my Mac OS X laptop computer. It give me a much bigger screen space to move my applications around. Today, I plugged an old Sony CPD-G500 CRT monitor into it, so that I can watch a Hulu movie while working in the garage. Mac OS X detected it alright, but nothing displayed on the screen. Apparently the screen resolution Mac OS X choose for the display isn't sync'able. For some reason, Mac OS X choose 1152x870, rather than a more standard CRT resolution.

Going to "System Preferences" -> "Displays" didn't really help, because the screen resolution chooser is displayed on the second external display, which isn't displaying anything!

And clicking the "Detect Displays" didn't make the situation any better. I practically gave up and started looking for settings to change in the command-line. "system_profiler" was handy to see exactly what Mac OS X saw the display as. But I had a difficult time finding any file to change manually.

Playing with the "Displays" "System Preferences", I enabled "Show displays in menu bar". Pulling down the menu bar version, I was over-joyed that you can select the "Screen Resolution" for both monitors from it. Quite frustrating that Apple hid this important feature in this rarely used menu. But at least I'm happy that my old flat-screen CRT still works with my Mac notebook.

Chieh Cheng
Wed, 29 Jul 2009 06:45:39 +0000

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