Mac detects a phantom display - why me

Discussion in 'macOS' started by lenalandmine, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. lenalandmine macrumors member

    lenalandmine

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    #1
    First post ever! Hey guys - love the site. Like.. oodles.

    In fact, the reason I've never posted is because I've always been able to get the answers to my questions by just reading over the forums. This is the first time I've been really stumped, so I've come to tha-mastas.

    I'm not super new to Macs, but still new enough to not know exactly what model my mac is.. lol But that's only because everytime I turn around, Apple makes a new one. Geez. So, it's an Intel iMac (5?), recently upgraded to Mac OS X Leopard (which by the way, is running retardedly slow..)

    Anyways, back in the day, literally months and months ago, I had a secondary display connected. A 19" Dell monitor of some sort. Well, it was a piece of poo (brightness was set at 100% but looked how my mac looks when the brightness is all the way down .. no joke.) So, naturally, I kicked it to the curb.

    What I mean to say is, I once had a secondary display connected, and now I no longer do, yet my Mac decides it can't let go of the past, and continues to tell me I do indeed, despite what I know to be false, have a second display connected. This is especially annoying with the "Spaces" feature I am in love with in Leopard. It's just absurdly annoying to see what should be four individual squares, four squares with little baby squares latching onto them.

    I've read all the forums (and other sites) about that it's ridiculous you can't choose to disable a connected second display without physically disconnecting it (and I agree, that's simply idiotic), but my situation just makes me scratch my head because I disconnected my second display long before I even installed OS X 10.5, and there's been I-don't-know-how-many reboots in that amount of time.

    Seriously.. much thanks to anyone who can even guide me in the right direction!
    (Even if that means beating the crap out of my Mac until it listens to reason)

    -LL
     
  2. nout72 macrumors regular

    nout72

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #2
    Drag this file out of the folder and place it on the desktop

    /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist

    Log out and back in and see if the phantom display is gone.
    If it is delete the .plist you dragged at your desktop, the system already created a new .plist anyway.
    You probably have to set a few things back the way they were, but this will not take much time.

    If the phantom display is still there you may set the .plist back, but you can just delete the .plist anyway.
     
  3. lenalandmine thread starter macrumors member

    lenalandmine

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    #3
    Thanks for your reply!

    I can't find the file "com.apple.windowserver.plist" but what I did find is interesting... I have a "com.apple.windowserver.0017f2c9c51a.plist" ... what's that all about? :confused:
     
  4. nout72 macrumors regular

    nout72

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #4
    I am not sure, it seems like a modified windowserver.plist.
    But just see what happens if you drag this item to your desktop en log out and back in.
    I am pretty sure this will get rid of your phantom display.
     
  5. lenalandmine thread starter macrumors member

    lenalandmine

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    #5
    Well that's weird. I'm not sure why it would be modified.. either way, I tried what you said, and no dice : /

    My mac still thinks there's a second display.
     
  6. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #6
    Do you have a display adapter attached to the unused port? Such as DVI to VGA or DVI to HDMI.

    Those can create the false impression of an attached device. At least it tricks my monitor into thinking a computer is plugged into it.
     
  7. lenalandmine thread starter macrumors member

    lenalandmine

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    #7

    Nope. : / No display or adapter is attached to my mac. There's no reason (I can think of) for it to detect a display that doesn't exist.

    ..I guess I'm stuck with this problem.
     
  8. NeverhadaPC macrumors 6502

    NeverhadaPC

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    #8
    I had the same problem on my iMac G5 with both Tiger and Leopard.

    Resetting the PRAM upon restart seems to help in most cases.

    Sometimes I have to shut down the computer and pray :).

    I think it is a logic board issue (based on web-searches) and have not been able to solve this for good.

    Please post any solutions to this problem.
     
  9. lenalandmine thread starter macrumors member

    lenalandmine

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    #9
    Still!!

    Ok.. The rundown:

    Display disconnected from iMac
    Restarted.
    Detected displays.
    Restarted.
    Upgraded to Leopard.
    Restarted.
    Detected displays.
    Restarted.
    Reset PRAM.

    ...What the hell else is there to do?
    My mac still thinks there's a second display.. It's gone retarded on me.

    There *has* to be a solution to this. ...It's so.. ..so.. pc-ish. *shudders*
     
  10. NeverhadaPC macrumors 6502

    NeverhadaPC

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    #10
    If you have a iMac, open up the computer and check the capacitors on the logic board (mother board). If they are bulging or leaking you need to buy new ones or take it in to Apple for repairs.
     
  11. nout72 macrumors regular

    nout72

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #11
    I am sorry to see you haven't found a solution yet...a weird problem.
    At the moment I cannot think of anything else what to do, well maybe it is a hardware problem, like NeverhadaPC suggests...

    Anyway, good luck.
     
  12. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #12
    You say upgraded to leopard.

    Do you have a spare hard drive you could do a clean install on. Just to see if that works vs an upgrade.
     
  13. lenalandmine thread starter macrumors member

    lenalandmine

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    #13
    Thank you to everyone who has put in suggestions.

    I'm not really comfortable with taking apart my iMac. I not even comfortable thinking about it. lol Nor do I think this is a big enough problem to want to take it into a service center. I use my mac all day, every day, I can't justify losing it for any amount of time when I haven't completely exhausted all other options. I will definitely use your advice if it comes to that, however :/ I just hope it doesn't.

    Actually, I had been throwing around the idea of a, is it called "archive & install"? The only real reason I hadn't when I first upgraded was because I was a bit nervous never having done a full install on a mac before. I do have a clean hard drive available, and would love to give this a shot (for multiple reasons - mac slow, etc). Would you be able to lead me somewhere that has comprehensive step-by-step instructions? :]

    Thanks again.
     
  14. cawesjmu macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    #14
    Do you have any other displays you could plug in and then unplug? Forcing the computer to detect the displays physically again. I assume you've done the "detect displays" from the system preferences or the menu bar (if you have it up there). Have you tried making another user and seeing if the problem persists in the new user?
    Here's some info from Apple on the archive and install option.
     
  15. lenalandmine thread starter macrumors member

    lenalandmine

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    #15
    I have the one I used to use (the 19" Dell). I have tried hooking it up. Detecting displays. Restarting. Detecting displays. Disconnecting it. Detecting displays. Restarting. .. The whole 9 yards.

    I just tried this suggesting, and the second phantom display is still detected. .. Seriously. lol My mac has imaginary friends.

    I'm going to try the archive & install, which should hopefully fix a lot of little issues I've been having since upgrading to Leopard, and if it fixes this phantom display issue, I'll report back :]

    Thanks again everyone.
     
  16. lenalandmine thread starter macrumors member

    lenalandmine

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2009
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx
    #16
    One more question..

    ..And I'm only asking this because I can't find a 100% clear answer anywhere else:

    When you archive and install (leopard), does it save ("archive") your iPhoto library? I have some 2000 photos or so, and all are extremely important to me. So a definite answer is essential.

    Thanks ;]
     
  17. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #17
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1710
    "You can choose to preserve your user and network settings before installing. This option automatically moves existing users, Home directories, and network settings. This also skips the Setup Assistant after installation."

    Your iPhoto library should exist in you Pictures folder therefore if you preserve your user and network settings then the library should be moved with everything else.

    I do not know of detailed instructions for the whole procedure. Though it really is quite easy. Anyways here are some links to the various parts of formatting and installing OS X on an external hard drive.

    1. Determine if you have an Intel (Core Duo, Core 2 Duo) or PowerPC (G3, G4, G5) Mac by clicking the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the screen and selecting "About this Mac". (This is important for determining the partition map in step 3.)

    2. You will need a Firewire hard drive to boot from

    3. Partition the hard drive (GUID Partition Table for Intel Macs, Apple Partition Map for PowerPC)

    4. Install Mac OS X
    - For the hard drive selection you will choose the Firewire hard drive
    - Since you are installing to a blank hard drive there is no need to do archive and install
    - If you have plenty of space just check mark everything to install for the optional items

    5. After the install is complete do not choose the option to move user files and settings over when the Setup Assistant is asking you questions. The goal of this clean install is to have a clean slate to test if the ghost monitor is still showing up. If it no longer then you can be sure it is a software not a hardware problem with your current install.

    6. Once you confirm the existence or absence of the ghost monitor you can go ahead and use the Migration Assistant to copy your files and settings from your internal HD to the external. If there is no ghosting you now have a backup of your data while performing a clean install to your internal. If the ghosting remains you have a backup on the external while your iMac is in the shop for repairs.
     
  18. pxks macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #18
    good to know I'm not alone...

    Hello then,

    I've also been searching for a solution for my phantom display for a long time, but haven't got any luck until now.

    It seems like we do have the exact same problem, but I've notice even before the Leopard upgrade.

    For me, after having connected my MacBook Pro1,1 into an old TV set using some sort of adapter, it won't let it go...

    So everytime I boot (or resume from suspension), it sees and external VGA 800x600:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Which is kind of annoying, because I cannot use Exposé in one corner.

    But if I ask the Monitor Preferences to auto detect monitors (might need to be done a couple of times...) it actually sees that there is no second screen and everything's normal again.

    I've tried dumping monitor preferences, reseting SDRAM / PRAM, but still have the problem.
     
  19. tsaichu macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    #19
    it's not a software / os issue

    I have an G5 quad with the same problem as described above for a while now. It had the most recent 10.5.x update. The computer has 1 display (digital) connected to the first DVI connector.

    On said machine, I just put in a new hard disk, reformatted, and installed a fresh OS X Leopard. Same problem. So for sure this has nothing to do with any OS setting, files, or anything software related.

    I still have the following things to try, will report if any of these succeeds in fixing or eliminating the problem:
    * update from 10.5 to latest 10.5.x (doubt it'll make a difference)
    * reset the pram
    * connect, boot, then remove a second digital (not analog) display to the second dvi connector (doubt it'll fix it, same problem as before)
    * connect, boot, then remove an analog display to the second dvi connector
    * remove and reinsert the video card
    * put in a new video card

    Stay tuned...
     

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