Tiger and flat panel screen rotation...

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Tiger and flat panel screen rotation...

What follows is the reconstruction of an exchange that began about ten days ago after I visited an Apple Store in our area to test "Tiger"... I am in the market for a new laptop, but one of the criteria I am applying this time around is to be able to read documents in portrait format... I do not necessarily want to go the TabletPC route; in fact, I am an old UNIX hand and would prefer to make my first purchase from Apple now that the foundation is more familiar to me...

So I tested and discovered that there is a rotation option on the Display Preferences panel of a PowerMac G5 and the MacMini... but NOT on Powerbooks, iBooks, or the iMac G5... Finding this strange, I asked the staff and discovered that they did not even know this option existed. I checked the documentation on the Apple site and was not helped. I then checked aroundgood on the web and could find nothing conclusive...

...so I finally joined Applefritter (I have been checking out MacOS-oriented sites for a few months and appreciate the form and content offered here), but rather than start with a blog or forum topic, I queried Tom Owad... who kindly shared some ideas but ultimately suggested that I submit the question to one and all... So here goes (by the way, I seem to have lost my first email to Tom, so you will have to do with where he responded the first time... though I think I basically said what is said above...)

PS for Tom: I am not adept at forums, so I hope this will help us both to find an answer...


Hi Edward,

I'm very interested in hearing more. I have a 20" Dell that supports swivel hooked up to my 12" Powerbook, so I'm very interested in this! Where is the screen setting, on the desktop machines?

Here's a very interesting pic:


According to this thread, it's driver independent:



Hi Tom,

I just checked out the MacBidouille site and really could not figure out what is going on... and I read French fluently, so that was not a problem. I checked the specs on the Samsung SyncMaster 213 T and it has a DVI-D interface that I am guessing can inform the driver that the screen has a physical dimension of 1200x1600 (portrait) instead of 1600x1200 (landscape).

My experience/experiment at the Apple Store at Chestnut Hill was simpler: I brought up the Display Preferences panel on each machine: on the PM G5 and MacMini there was an "orientation" option with a dropdown menu holding "standard", "90", "180", and 270"... When I tried this on the Powerbook and iBook without an external monitor, no such option was present... And when I tried it on a Powerbook with an Apple monitor attached (to the DVI interface, I think) and neither screen showed an option to modify the orientation...

I will be curious to hear whether it works with your Dell when you rotate it and then power it up...



On May 6, 2005, Edward wrote:

Hi again,

I have not been able to make any further concrete progress on understanding the options for setting screen orientation (as in rotation) with MacOS 10.4 (Tiger) with built-in displays such as notebooks and the iMacs. As time has allowed, I have taken the following actions...

- a broad look at the web via Google and various MacOS-oriented websites, with limited success and really only new questions...

* the MacBidouille example seems to be encouraging, but I will bet it was hardware enabled with the screen in portrait mode presenting a fixed but rotated form-factor via the VESA-based EDID...

* I saw one article that vaguely said an early public beta of Tiger allowed screen rotation but that Quartz Extreme was not enabled... which is obviously unacceptable...

* another thread (that I cannot now find) implied that the preferences for orientation could be set at Tiger install time but that they were impossible to change again... not very practical...

* and another had an ambiguous reference to a keystroke command that will either invert the video (WB-to-BW) or actually rotate the screen... and perhaps with a chance of return to the original state, so it is not for the fainthearted...

- a second trip to a local Apple Store, this time in Cambridge near MIT (hoping for a more 'connected' staff since it was the first Apple Store in the area). No help, though, other than discouragement...

- and then I got home to look one last time before querying you... and I found this link to SpyMac

...and since I found the forum babble rather distracting, I will save you the trouble of searching for the keystrokes because I am still confused by the two options proposed:

1. Open "System Preference", then restart it, open it again, then hold down ALT and click the 'display' icon.

2. To do this press the option key when you click "displays" in the System Preferences application

I presume that one of these, or both, will work on a Powerbook or iBook with MacOS 10.4, but I do not yet own any Apple hardware and will need to make another trip to test... Please let me know if you decide to jump in and give it a try on one of your platforms... or if you have made any further progress towards discovering what-is-what...

Best regards,


The option-key trick didn't work for me. I do have a report from one user though that rotation works on his TiBook.

Want to post your findings on Af Forums, so we can get opinions from others?


Last seen: 12 years 4 months ago
Joined: Mar 18 2005 - 16:28
the option key thing doesnt w

the option key thing doesnt work for me. i have a tibook

Last seen: 6 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Jan 3 2005 - 21:12

I have a 1.25ghz Albook (Radeon 9600) and an LG L2010P rotatable flat panel.. I held down option and opened the display control panel, and it let me rotate!

I then set it back to normal and closed and re-opened and the rotation option was still there.. maybe there is something in the DDC data that says if the attached display can rotate? I have a non rotating 17 inch LCD and an ibook G4 at home, so I'll try that tonight.

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
Forgot to put the Spymac link...

For what it's worth, here it is:



chris501's picture
Last seen: 8 years 5 months ago
Joined: Apr 5 2005 - 04:35
...rotating thing

Doesn't work for me too. Have got a PM G5 1,8GHz and a Sony Flat Panel 17", non-rotating. The idea that the OS reads DDC-data seems logical to me...

Last seen: 3 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 19 2003 - 18:53
Hardware solution. . . for some. . .

Great topic.

This is a hardware solution for those with Power Mac's;

Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition

Here are the specs which mention the dual display, display rotation, and scaling;



BDub's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 20 2003 - 10:38
iBook G4

iBook G4 1.07 running 10.4. It rotates.


Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
How did you do it?

I was actually about to head off to either CompUSA or an Apple Store to test things, so this info would be helpful... I also think the EDID/DDC conjecture is correct because I found the queries for this info - and commands for setting rotation factors - in the new Darwin source (8.0.1 for MacOS 10.4), and there is even a test program called "probe" in IOGraphics-179/tools that seems to both give the opportunity to set as well as get the current orientation state. There is another that seems to allow a general query of the display characteristics, but the whole thing is moot for me since I do not have a machine to generate these tools and I doubt they will be happy if I do it in the showroom...

So, please tell me what command you used... Thanks in advance.


BDub's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 20 2003 - 10:38
I opened up my System Prefs.

I opened up my System Prefs.

I held down "Option" (Alt, for those of you who like to call things silly names)

I clicked "Displays"

I got this window: http://www.applefritter.com/node/7635

I chose an amount to rotate and then sat there for a few minutes before I figured out that I needed to close System Prefs completely and reopen it before the menu would show again.

Then I noticed that I was at work and perhaps I should continue working.

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
Thanks... now for the results of my tests*

iMac G5 w/ GeForce 5200 FX and 20" internal LCD... Does NOT work

PowerMac G5 w/ GeForce 6800 Ultra and 30" Apple Display... does NOT work

PowerMac G5 w/ GeFource 5200 FX and 17" Apple Display... does NOT work

MacMini G4 w/ internal ATI Radeon 9200** and ProView PL913s... WORKS!

iBook G4 w/ ATI (both 12" and 14" have one)... WORKS! (thanks BDub)

1.25ghz Albook (Radeon 9600) and an LG L2010P... WORKS! (thanks duck)

however, a PowerMac G5 w/ ??? at Apple Store worked for me, but I will bet it was the dual 2Ghz model (M9032) with the standard ATI graphics card, not the Nvidia one for the 30" display...

So, my conclusion is that we were all wrong about dependency on the LCD type*** and this has nothing to do with the display but rather screen rotation in Tiger only works with ATI graphics adapters...

...which is rather disconcerting because both ATI and NVIDIA support a hardware form factor rotation in these devices: I don't know what the ATI function is called, but NVIDIA supports a low-level command called NVROTATE (and I think it is used like the ATI command for screen rotation in Windows; in X11, however, the drivers do screen rotation in software... I think).

I'm a bit confused by all this and will look alittle deeper. Maybe someone connected with Apple would be nice enough to clear things up: I have a feeling that the NVidia devices are not supported because OpenGL is not supported in the portrait mode, but that is just a guess...

In conclusion, it seems I can buy either iBook and get the functionality that I desire but must be careful to buy the right Powerbook if I want screen rotation... Now I have to think about it some more because I was almost ready to go for a fully loaded 12" Powerbook...

...now if that were all we had to worry about, life would seem simple, no?


* I didn't want to go all the way to the Apple Store in Cambridge, so I went to Microcenter near Harvard and CompUSA in Watertown... and while the former had a couple of Tigers installed (though the salesguy didn't even know it), the latter had none...

** I noticed that the MacMini supports Quartz Extreme but does NOT support Core Image, though the Powerbooks and Powermac G5, so that is not a factor (please note, I only checked in a cursory fashion but believe the other devices support it...)

*** It is true that some LCDs are not adapted to viewing in portrait mode, but I am convinced that is not an issue here because the ProView is a rather low-end device (19" for under $300) and VGA at that... and with a fixed support that does not allow for rotation.

CORRECTION: the ProView has a VGA connector but a 1280x1024 native resolution... It seemed quite nice, though, even when rotated (though I got a stiff neck after a couple of minutes...)

ONE LAST CORRECTION: there does not seem to be a correlation between the screen rotation and the new Core Image / Core Video capabilities; however, they seem less accessible than I had realized...

see http://www.macosx.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-47382.html


In shorthand (taken from the second link), these GPUs are supported:

Core Image-capable graphics cards include:

* ATI Mobility Radeon 9700
* ATI Radeon 9600 XT, 9800 XT, X800 XT
* nVidia GeForce FX Go 5200
* nVidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
* nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL, 6800 GT DDL

...which means no iBook or MacMini GPU support for Core Image. Not really a big deal because neither is really intended as a workhorse, but still good to know, no?

OK... I'm done and will wait for remarks (in any case, it's time for dinner... and it's sushi night!!!)

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
I finally made it to the local Apple Store...

...for a full suite of tests:

MacMini works fine...

iBook G4 12" and 14" both work fine...

PBook G4 12" does NOT work, nor does external display...

PBook G4 15" and 17" work... and external displays are rotatable, too.

iMac G5 does NOT work...

PMac G5 works with ATI adapters and does NOT work with NVidia...

Some final remarks:

- the LCDs seem to be perfectly adapted to portrait mode...

- the hot-key initiation of the Rotation menu ("hold Option while selecting Display Preferences icon) only works from the Screen Preferences panel and NOT from the Display Preferences icon in the title bar...

- the Rotation menu does not seem to be persistent on notebooks while it is on PMacs and the MacMini (with notebooks, reininitiate it each time you bring back up the Display Preferences panel)...

- the touchpad does NOT change orientation when you rotate the screen; in other words, watch out for vertigo if you turn a laptop 90 degrees for reading and then try to move the cursor with the touchpad...

That's all folks - now I must decide whether to buy an iBook or make the more expensive leap to a 15" Powerbook (though I am still thinking about the last problem - manipulating the cursor - and any expert advice would be appreciated...).


Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
The Last Word...

See: http://www2.ati.com/drivers/macosx-ati-displays-4-5-1.html

It explains it all... even the ability to have screen rotation in MacOS 10.2.8 and up (though an ATI option, of course). I could not find an equivalent for NVidia with Linux (they support XP, but that's another issue...). I have found other comments around the web suggesting that Quartz Extreme does not work as well on a display rotated 90 or 270 degrees with this functionality, but I did not see any significant problems myself (though I was rather superficial while trying out machines in the Apple Store...).

I think I will still buy a new iBook 12" with Tiger...


Last seen: 13 years 1 month ago
Joined: Jun 20 2005 - 18:19
Screen rotation

Hi Edward - I have stumbled here after looking for something completely different and tried, on my Powerbook G4 running Tiger, the screen rotation and it works for me. By opening System Preferences, then Displays BUT HOLDING DOWN THE ALT KEY as you open this, you will see another button below the "Detect Displays" button.Called ROTATE. If you open this Display panel without holding down the ALT key this will not appear! Also, it (frightenly!) dissappears after you have rotated your screen! I turned mine thru 180 and had a mini panic using the mouse upside down but all is fine if you yet again hold the ALT key down the ROTATE button reappears - this may be too late to help but it does work for me - Good Luck!

Last seen: 13 years 1 week ago
Joined: Jun 25 2005 - 07:34
Which Powerbook?


From what I understand this has to do with Powerbook 12inch with Nvidia cards. Have you been able to rotate screen in a Powerbook 12inch ? or any apple with Nvidia geoforce card?



Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
I understand your confusion,

I understand your confusion, but the situation is very clear now:

- the rotation "trick" works on ALL ATI cards supplied with Tiger supplied with G4s...

- but it does NOT work on ANY Nvidia cards (meaning the Powerbook 12inch)

- this rule applies to external displays, too (meaning you need an ATI card to get rotation)

I finally bought an iBook and it works as described above, but I am still interested by this issue because NVROTATE works with Windows and Linux... I would be curious if other poeple who see this post would be interested to have rotation with their NVidia based devices (be it the Powerbook or with an external display attached to an iMac G5 or PowerMac with Nvidia...).


Last seen: 13 years 1 month ago
Joined: Jun 29 2005 - 14:56

I went through the entire thread, called Dell and Apple for HOURS, and still can't get this right. Basically:

* I got the new Dell 2405
* Have a Mac G4
* Operating on Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther)
* Radion ATI

I'm doing the option/alt thing, but it is not working. I've lost almost 2 full days calling the people who make both machines, i.e. Dell and Mac, and got absolutely nothing. Can someone please tell me what I'm doing wrong? Is this supported only by Tiger?

Thanks in advance,

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
Check this information page...


I have only been working with Tiger but am also interested by screen rotation on Panther... I intend to install Panther on an external disk for testing on my iBook and will use this link as reference: http://www2.ati.com/drivers/macosx-ati-displays-4-5-1.html

It is not clear what ATI Radeon card you are using (nor which Mac G4, to be frank). A cursory read of this link and other leads me to believe that many, but not all, ATI cards are supported with both Tiger and Panther. All the Apple-supplied ATI cards (and chipsets, as in laptops) work as previously stated; however, I do not have enough knowledge of add-on ATI cards to know which will work and which will not...

Good luck solving your problem... and please let us know if and how it advances towards a solution.


Last seen: 12 years 10 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 15:20
Rotating desktop

Hi all

I have followed the instructions here but I have been unable to get this option on my powerbook G4 1.5Ghz (15") with the ATI 9700 Mobility

I am running tiger (10.4.2)

If I attach an external display this option is available on that without doing anything.

Any help appreciated.

The following is from the System profiler for the display
ATI Mobility Radeon 9700:

Chipset Model: ATY,RV360M11
Type: Display
Bus: AGP
VRAM (Total): 64 MB
Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
Device ID: 0x4e50
Revision ID: 0x0000
ROM Revision: 113-xxxxx-132
Color LCD:
Display Type: LCD
Resolution: 1280 x 854
Depth: 32-bit Color
Built-In: Yes
Core Image: Supported
Main Display: Yes
Mirror: Off
Online: Yes
Quartz Extreme: Supported
Online: No
Status: No display connected

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
a "solution" with 10.4.2 (finally, I think...)

You may have missed my update to this thread here:


So the bad news is that Apple apparently disabled screen rotation on Powerbooks and iBooks when they created the 10.4.2 'update'... which is why your Powerbook will not work.

The "good" news is that I just installed ATI Versavision 4.5.6 on my iBook G4 with 10.4.2 and it seems to work fine... with rotation completely enabled. I obviously cannot guarantee that it is a good idea to use this alternative to manage the internal display, nor can I guarantee that it will work with Powerbooks... but both assumptions seem reasonable to me (unless Apple decides to disable them in the future, of course).

I hope this helps.


Last seen: 12 years 3 months ago
Joined: Jul 5 2005 - 20:58
I have an ibook G4 1.33 ghz 1

I have an ibook G4 1.33 ghz 12" completely up to date with tiger 10.4.2. it rotates.

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
regarding newer ibook...

That's weird... please explain: does it need the ATI Display software (4.5.6) to rotate, does it display the now-standard Apple rotation menus without the Option + Display Preferences, or does it only work with that undocumented sequence?

The newer iBook (1.33 ghz vs. my 1.2 ghz) has a slightly different Radeon card (Mobile Radeon 9550 rather than 9200), so maybe Apple has enabled it by default...

Thanks in advance for any precision you might be able to offer...

Last seen: 12 years 3 months ago
Joined: Jul 5 2005 - 20:58
I didnt do anything, just wen

I didnt do anything, just went into displays one day and noticed it was there.

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
really weird, no?

This is the weirdest thing...

- I must have not even tested the newer iBooks when I went back to my local Apple Store after discovering this problem after installing 10.4.2 on my iBook...

- Donie's 15 inch Powerbook has an ATI Radeon 9700, so why does that not work if the 9550 works?

It all seems rather arbitrary and mysterious to me: if the ATI display drivers worked before and are enabled on the newest hardware, why not enable it everywhere? I was planning to check out the new video iPod and the iMac media center software next week, so I will repeat these tests and report back...

Last seen: 12 years 3 months ago
Joined: Jul 5 2005 - 20:58
dont know, maybe my ibook is

dont know, maybe my ibook is just special. Wink

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47

A couple of followup questions came to mind while driving:

- Does your iBook w/10.4.2 support dual displays or just mirroring?

- Does the touchpad orientation rotate to match the rotated screen?

- How (or why) are you using a rotated screen on your iBook?

Since this thread is alive again, I would be interested to hear from others with similar interests (donie?)... Thanks in advance.

Last seen: 12 years 10 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 15:20
external display

hi guys

when external display is connected the mouse works as expected when i move to rotated panel. not sure about touchpad. can check tomorrow...


Last seen: 12 years 3 months ago
Joined: Jul 5 2005 - 20:58
My ibook, as far as i know, o

My ibook, as far as i know, only supports mirroring because i cannot use extended desktop whithout screen spannong doctor or something like that.

The touchpad stays the same way.

The only reason i am using rotation is because of this thread, all i do is take my viewsonic CRT (yes CRT) and tip it on its side. it mirrors the display but it only rotates the external viewsonic display.

very strange.

Last seen: 12 years 10 months ago
Joined: Oct 11 2005 - 15:20
hey... it works

4.5.6 drivers from ati work. Smile rotation option now. me is happy Smile thanks

Last seen: 12 years 10 months ago
Joined: Oct 18 2005 - 05:49
Rotating 30" and 20" Flat Panel Displays on a G5

So here's my deal. I've got the latest Apple LCD monitors, a 30" and a 23", running off an NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra card in a dual 2.7 Apple G5. It's a devastatingly pleasant setup. I've been looking forward to rotating the monitors 90° for various applications. When holding down the option key and opening the Displays Preferences from the System Prefences window didn't yield the monitor rotating option I was expecting, I googled high and low for an explanation. Finally, I finally found this post: right here

Scroll down to where "Pubert" says "IMHO, Apple really dropped the ball by not allowing display rotation and height adjustment with their new displays. For many people (including me) this oversight is a showstopper."

Reading that post, and posts around that post, and googling around, I think I came to find that I can't rotate my gigantic sexy displays because of the grotesquely expensive NVIDIA card running them.

And if you're running the latest Tiger system software, go to Mac Help and search "rotate display." You'll find a support article titled "Mac OS X 10.4: About the display rotation feature." It tells you right there: "Some video cards may include support for display rotation in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Look in Displays preferences; if you see a Rotate pop-up menu on the right side of the window, your video card supports display rotation. "

So after spending an obscene amount of money on this system -- and I won't lie to you, I did it to fulfill a deep-seated childhood fantasy of having a computer that would make anything in George Jetson's apartment obsolete -- I'm thinking that THERE HAS GOT TO BE SOME RELATIVELY SIMPLE FIX!!!

In that same thread around Pubert's comment, someone else points out there is a software fix for users of some monitors (screens, displays, whatever you prefer) when running off some ATI graphics cards. So before I play the phone tree game with Apple and NVIDIA, any of you smart people out there got a solution for me?

Thanks in advance!

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
ATI is supported but NVIDIA is not... (but why?)

I sympathize to a degree with the previous contribution to this thread; however, my trip to the Apple Store today left me with three clear conclusions:

(1) Rotation is supported on all external displays connected to ATI Radeon graphics controllers, be they in boxes or in i/Powerbooks...

(2) Rotation is not enabled or supported by Apple for any internal i/Powerbook displays (all but 12 inch Powerbook) but can be enabled with the drivers available from ATI...

(3) Nothing related to rotation is supported by Apple for NVidia controllers and NVidia has no MacOS drivers available on its websites... which is strange when you consider that NVidia seems to have long supported a GPU-level NVROTATE command that is apparently used by both Windows and Linux to implement rotation. My only guess is that either Apple relies on and defers to the GPU manufacturer for drivers and NVidia prefers to not implement it in their drivers for MacOS... My suspicion is that there is either a technical issue (perhaps related to the use of OpenGL by Quartz (esp. Quartz Extreme) or that it is simply a business decision on the part of NVidia vis a vis Apple...

So sorry, "Sugar Fish"... I think you are stuck. It just occured to me that you might be able to get the rotations to work with the "newer" X11 on Quartz, butI wouldn't bet on it...

I hope this summary helps...

Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
Joined: Apr 30 2005 - 14:47
Take heart (for the patient hearted...)

This morning, I had a moment to stop by the Apple Store at the Chestnut Hill Mall: I wanted to check out the new Powerbooks and/or PowerMacs and here is what I found:

- no new Powerbooks on display, though the posters had the new specs (but the machines there were running 10.4.1 anywhays...). I am still willing to bet that 10.4.2 on a 15 or 17 inch will support rotation in external displays...

- a new Powermac with a single dual-core processor was to be found... connected by a single DVI cable to a 30 inch display by an ATI Radeon 9650 card... and rotation was clearly supported !

So, "Sugar Fish", the solution to your problem would seem to be a graphics card replacement...

I was curious about the technical details and found this link:


So the 'standard' ATI card on the high-end PowerMac seems to support the 30 inch display but is also the slowest of the bunch... I suspect the other ATI cards will support rotation, too...

In all honesty, I would love to have the financial bandwidth to play with toys like this... I even think someone could get rotation to work on Nvidia-based graphics, though it might be a kludge and have performance problems without full access to Apple/Nvidia driver source (and I cannot, frankly, understand why Nvidia and/or Apple do not do it themselves...).

Good luck deciding what to do (and please let us know what you decide and how it works out...).

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