Dual-Screening with the iBook G4

Recently I acquired a Dell 1707FP for use with my Power Mac G4 back home, since the PM G4 currently has (what appears to be now) a tiny CRT screen. This Dell monitor is, first and foremost, an LCD monitor and secondly, it has a screen resolution of 1280x1024, which is 40% larger than the 1024x768 CRT. All well and good. However, the bummer was that, for now, I had to use this screen with an iBook G4 and before I even hooked the monitor up to it, I was quite aware of the fact that iBooks had not supported composite video (stuck with mirroring) and also did not have the capability of running with the lid closed (clamshell mode). Apple made this apparent because, when they introduced the MacBooks, they made a huge deal about how the MacBooks supported video compositing and clamshelling

The bottomline was that, when I plugged in the monitor, it was stuck at a pathetic 1024x768 (a resolution that I used to look up at just 6 short years ago). Now, as you might know, if you close the lid on an Apple notebook, it immediately pops off to sleep. When you want to hook up an external monitor, that can sometimes be an issue. I vaguely remembered that once you close the lid of an Apple notebook, you can reawaken it by inserting or ejecting some kind of USB device from it. So, after closing the lid (external monitor attached), I attached a USB mouse to it. It woke up. Cool! Then it unceremoniously went right back to sleep, quite like I would have if a USB mouse had been plugged into me. Of course, I wasn't white and didn't have "iBook G4" written across my face, so the results were disappointing to say in the least. After attempting this a couple of more times, I gave up, closed my eyes and started praying, "Google is my friend... Google is my friend...".

Then I opened up Camino, typed "using ibook lid closed" into Google and checked out the results. The first few were disappointing, but the fourth one proved to be my savior. It referred me to this. I installed a piece of software called "Screen Spanning Doctor" and it has made my life happier… now that the iBook's artifical restrictions against screen spanning and clamshelling are gone, I have a total desktop real estate of 1024x768 + 1280x1024, which is good because I can always keep things like Mail or iTunes open in another window for instant perusal. Life is beautiful. All I need now is a new computer, a GPA worthy of mention and an ambition…

I might follow this entry up with a review of the Dell 1707FP and I almost definitely intend to write about an application that changed my Mac… well, the way it looks anyway 

Comments (3) Posted on at  

  • » 1280x1024 is a very fine resolution. Everything looks really smooth on it. Have been using the same in my sony LCD.
  • » Yeah, some times it's better not to have a widescreen monitor, especially on OS X where the Dock is on the bottom by default (yes, yes, of course it can be moved but I like it on the bottom) and so vertical space is limited anyway. On all the 17" Widescreen monitors I checked out, the resolution was 1280x768 which is clearly a big loss on the number of pixels. And this standard aspect ratio monitor was not too expensive also. So, all in all, a good buy.
  • » Ciao Skaran, I was reading your blog in hopes of a solution to using my iBook G4 with an external wide screen monitor however the link you suggested is no longer active... I was wondering if you might tell me what you found out at this link... Thanks!