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Mac OS X Quick Tip: Displays

A fast fix for incorrect monitor settings at startup By Dave Nagel
Here's the way it happens with me: I install a new piece of software, restart my computer and find, without explanation, that the refresh rate, color and geometry of my monitor is all wrong. The screen is flickering at a headache-inducing frequency; images are distorted; and the color is set back to pre-calibrated hideousness. Even my Desktop Picture is missing. Yuck.

This is not an uncommon situation, particularly, it appears, if you have a dual-monitor setup. Some software installations mess with your system preferences and cause your display to revert to old or even factory settings. How? I don't know. But it can also happen when your system is improperly shut down.

Now, the thing about this problem is that it not only affects your desired display settings, but it also disables some of the options available for your monitor. For example, on my system, my primary monitor is a 1,920 x 1,080 CRT display, which normally operates at a refresh rate of 80 Hz. However, when this display issue arises, 80 Hz isn't even an available option.

Plus, I also have some custom geometry on my screen because the aspect ratio of this particular model is kind of funky. I have custom horizontal and vertical settings, as well as custom trapezoid and pincushion settings. And why would I want to go through the hassle of readjusting these--not to mention recalibrating my color--every other time install some software?

Normally, for some unknown reason, this particular problem will fix itself when you restart your computer a few times. But that's a hassle too. So here's the quick solution.

Open up your System Preferences (Apple Menu > System Preferences), and click on the Display button. Press "Detect Displays."

When you do this, your whole DIsplays pane layout will change (hopefully), giving you back your missing options, particularly your missing refresh rates.

Your color and geometry will also be reset to your last-used settings, as will your Desktop Picture (or color).

That's all there is to it. If you have any particular Mac OS X quirks you'd like to see addressed, drop me a line at [email protected] or visit me in the Mac OS forum here. If you have application-specific issues, visit DMN Forums for a complete list of our forums.

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].

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Related Keywords:Mac OS X, screen flicker


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