how-to enable, configure and use an external display with Apple’s MacBook

It’s since the end of september that this post was in draft, when a young colleague asked me help on setting up his 19″ external LCD display for his MacBook. I took some screenshots and wrote him a long e-mail, and then thought to share this “guide” with others.

Hope you can make some use of it!

First thing to do is to phisically connect the external display, if all it’s ok the Mac will detect it and turn it on showing the default wallpaper. If not check the cables and with the keyboard combo CMD+F7 “turn on” the video exit.

Then we have to go to System Preferences where we will click on the “Monitor” icon (it’s called so on my italian system, so double check this image below):

macbook dualdisplay howto 01

So you’ll make appear two new windows, one will sport the LCD Colori title and will represent your Mac’s monitor and the other will display an alphanumerical title (for me it’s SDM-HX-93) which it’s the model name of the connected external display:

macbook dualdisplay howto 02

… for both of them we can configure (if not cloning the monitor) resolution and color profile. Now choose the “LCD Colori” window and select the second tab, called in italian Disposizione:

macbook dualdisplay howto 03

Here we can see how spatially are displaced the two monitors, the Mac will respect the different dimension of the screens so, in this screenshot, the smallest it the 13″ display of my MacBook on the right and on the left we see the 19″ external display … this means that moving on the left edge the mouse pointer it will “jump” on the 19 when the 13′ limits are passed.

The white bar in this representation is the position of the Mac OS menu bar, which will make the monitor on which is placed the primary one. This is a fact to remember given the OS GUI interface and behaviour of the menu when you’ll deal with applications.

macbook dualdisplay howto 04

To change the primary monitor all we have to do is a simple drag’n’drop of the “menu bar” on the display we want.

When we enable the check-box Duplica Monitor (in italian here):

macbook dualdisplay howto 05

we will clone 1:1 what we see on both the display (resolution too) … so double check what you want to visualize when you use this function … personally this is what I do when using a projector [I have to check how it’s really called in english].

Getting back, away from “cloning” monitors, I’ll briefly make notice that we can move the relative position of the two displays, one “around” the other:

macbook dualdisplay howto 06

OK, time to close this post with a little advice … if you want to use only the external display, with the MacBook display closed and attaching a full featured external mouse and keyboard … clamshell mode as defined by Apple, all you have to do is connect the external display, wait until it’s on then close the MacBook lid making it go into Stop. Then with a click of the mouse or pressing a key we’ll make awakeen the notebook which now will drive only the external one (as we can verify opening the lid).

When we want to exit this mode we just have to follow these instructions:

When you’re finished using your Apple portable in closed-lid mode, the internal display will not function when you open the lid until you have properly disconnected the external display. To properly disconnect the external display, put the computer to sleep and disconnect the display cable from the computer. Open the lid and the computer will reactivate the internal display.

Hope this helps! Enjoy!

replacement of a broken MagSafe

Hi there !

A year ago I told you about my problems with the premature consumption of the white insulation of my MacBook’s MagSafe power cord which:

Under continued use, the cable may discolor and the rubber molding may become deformed.

In the late september of this year a friend of mine, welcoming me back from my South African’ honeymoon travel pointed me to a BULLETTIN from Apple.

Troubleshooting MagSafe power adapter strain relief issues.

Here I read the happy novel:

Whether your product is in or out-of-warranty, you can take your adapter (you don’t need to take the computer, however, please do bring the computer’s serial number) to an Apple-Authorized Service Provider or Apple Retail Store for evaluation and replacement if necessary.

First I called my local Apple reseller (a Solution Expert center) which told me that 90% of the time when the damage is really near to the power adapter INSTEAD of being near the MagSafe Apple did not recorgnize the substitution.

So, perplexed, I called the italian support which made me talk with the second level support in Ireland, I’ve explained everything again – also pointing the solution show in the post linked above – and in 3 days I had both the power cord replaced and mine tuned back to Apple with no other expence than the call.

Obviously the Apple techician asked me the serial number of the adaptor, checking it with a list of recorgnized “faulty” models.

In the end all’s well that ends well

P.S. = with a bitter taste in mouth, purchased the 3rd july 2006 so far the MacBook has a replaced hard drive, a replaced power adaptor and a lightly yellow case ….

[petition] bring back firewire to macbook

firewire disk logo Everyone that follow the tech news, and the Apple ones in particular, have surely heard the voices of unsatisfaction on the firewire technology removal from their mainstream family of notebooks, the unibody ‘s MacBook.

Well, you too saw it coming? A petition has been organized to ask Apple to bring back the Firewire (at least) on the consumer notebook family. This petition is viewable and subscribable HERE.

At the time of my writing we have achieved the 15.000 signs record.

If you care and if you like it, pleas leave your sign too, the fact that somebody in Apple may hear our pledge isn’t impossible!!


damaged Apple MacBook’s power cord

If you are a nomad and heavy Apple’s MacBook user nomade del MacBook like me I suggest you to watch out for the power cord handling and maintenance.

You could find yourself in a situation like mine, after only 18 months from buying it, which is perfectly showed on the image down here:

damaged Apple MacBook's power cord - on Flickr

Luckily, thanks to Arturo, a colleague from another institute at work, I’ve managed to resolve the crisis with a quick repair session in their lab, letting me save the 89 euros needed to buy a brand new power adapter (and cord) !!

The power adapter is “glued” so one cannot easily open it and then close at repair’s finishing, so I’ve suggested Arturo to work on the cable. The result of his work is shown down here:

repaired MacBook power cord

I cannot help but I’m a bit mad with Apple, since I have 4 other laptops at home which are still at work after 4 or 5 years of intensive use and do not show a consumption like that on such a vital thing for a laptop!

Also I’ve discovered a dedicated documentation article in Apple’s doc pages called “reducing cable strain on your MagSafe power adapter” so to me it’s clear they’re somewhat prepared to such issue arising.

So beware !
{and read the article to be warned and instructed on how to store your power cord! … sigh! }

replacement disk for the MacBook

Since I cannot post the image as a comment in the appropriate post I’m “forced” to publish a new one to show the replacement drive I took in an Apple store in my city.

the new drive for my MacBook

The drive was an Apple pre-configured one, with a basic copy of OS X installed in and with a “default” MacBook user prebuilt in. Since I did not had the password I’ve erased it and restored my system and data with Carbon Copy Cloner.

The drive is a modern Seagate Momentus 5400.3 ST9120822AS – Hard drive – 120 GB – internal – 2.5″ – SATA-150 – 5400 rpm – buffer: 8 MB

3rd firmware update for the MacBook

apple software updateI’ve finally capitolated and i’ve launched myself (maybe too much light-hearted) in the third firmware upgrade for my MacBook and into the less significant X11 update released two days ago and which only esterday, opening my RSS aggregator, i’ve become aware of.

I have to admit that the contestual release of a new Firmware Restoration CD (now at the 1.2 release) had me worried a bit.

So i’ve begun to read comments and reports on the update itself and found out that a big part of the rumors were only on the topic of Apple releasing the cd image as a DMG file instead of an ISO one.

Does it is really a problem ? No.

Sure, if one had an ISO file he could burn the cd-image from any operating system. But why Apple should have thinked to non-apple users ? If something goes wrong it’s likely to happen that an Apple user would take it to and Apple techical service.

If one’s is worried about the eventual malfuncioning update he can first make a CD out of the DMG file, print the restore procedure and then go ahead updating the firmware.

For what is worth i can assure everything has gone smoothly and it seems that the machine has become a little quiter than it was (which wasn’t much, anyway ..)

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