Vertical Mac OS X

Since everyone is talking about Macs today — did you see the iPhone — I thought it would be a good time to pose to my highly intelligent readers a question that has vexed me for months. I have a Dell 24″ monitor attached to a Mac Mini, my preferred configuration for this is vertical (you can turn the Dell on its side) but I can’t find the setting in OS X that lets you put the screen into portrait mode. Any tips? Update: It was right under my nose. System Prefs -> Displays -> Rotate. Thanks to Daniel and Barry.

17 replies on “Vertical Mac OS X”

Don’t know if it’s limited by display features or what, but my System Preferences has a “Rotate” popup in the lower-right corner, when you click on “Display” tab of the “Displays” System Preference.

It’s should just be in the regular Displays preference screen.

The Mac OS has a philosophy however that preferences should only be shown when they are actually needed, i.e., you can only adjust mouse preferences when you have a mouse attached. The same goes for displays, you can only adjust the orientation of the display when OS X detects that you have a display connected that can rotate (pretty funky I know)

When it does detect this, the option shows up right underneath the “Detect Displays” button in the Display preference pane. It’s caled “Rotate.” This will rotate the image on your display a number of diffrent ways: 90, 180, or 270 degrees.

Sometimes the option will not show up correctly, a trick to get it to appear is to enter the preference pane while holding down the option key, some people have had luck with this.

Thanx so much for the Tip about using the Option key with Preferences to access the portrait mode on the mac mini using the Gateway 24 inch portrait mode.

Nothing else, no one else, no where else, nada, until your miraculous tip.

thank you so much.


I’d love to see a picture of your monitor in the vertical position viewing a website. Is that a possibility? I think it might be enough to make me want a Dell 24″

I think this is limited to ATI cards/drivers. I have 24″ from Dell as well, connected to nVidia card, and it’s not possible. However, on my Dell laptop, which uses ATI card, this is possible.


I have a couple 20″ wide Dells (on Win XP and Vista). When I turn them to portrait, they work but it doesn’t look quite right. Pixels are funny, or something.

On the Mac, is the display right? i.e. does it look same as landscape only … portrait?

Thanks, DAVE


I’m curious if you notice any performance issues when you put the display into portrait mode. I haven’t tried since mid-2005, but the video card that was being used in the Mac mini then didn’t have enough video RAM (32MB, I think) and the resulting image drawing was very slow–unusable.

Hey Matt!

Personally, I’m a PC person, but I love the ipod and I’m definitely curious to see what happens with iphone… Love wordpress and your contribution to the web… A big thank you for starting such a big wave! YOU ROCK!

Hmm.. Just for fun I had to try – I`ve got a G5 Quad with 2 24″ dells and GeForce 7800GT. But no option to rotated in the Prefernces. bugger.
Any ideas on how to fix that? Would be cool to save some desk space in that way. Would be sort of like a bigger than 30″ display…

Yes, I know how to fix it.
Turn your Dell monitors into the boat anchors they should have been in the first place and buy a decent monitor.
Yes, I am using a Dell monitor, so I know from first hand experience what total pieces of crap they are. Can’t rotate on Mac OS X? Kindly bugger off, Dell.

Actually, I have 3 monitors. 1 dell and 2 Apple cinema displays. It was a bitch to get two video cards… I am using a NVIDIA GeForce 7800 (which I bought when I bought my Quad G5, way back when). And the ATI x1900…

The ATI card DOES allow rotation. The NVIDIA does not.

Actually on my server that has a 7300GT Nvidia card can rotate the screen and I have it hooked up to a Dell e551c (POS). But when I go to the news editors machine G5 workstation with a huge 26″-32″ inch NEC LCD and same video card I cannot rotate the screen. My guess monitor preference or at larger sizes the video card cannot rotate properly.

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