MBA w/ Busted Screen - How to Force Single Screen When Flying Blind (Key Sequence)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by entaroadun, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. entaroadun macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2009
    I have an MBA with a busted screen (nothing but gray, though responds to ambient light changes and brightness settings). It boots and everything sounds fine, so I assume its just the screen. I brought it in to the Genius Bar, and they want to send it in under a recent previous repair (liquid damage; they had to do a brain transplant). I was still trying to get everything synced up right before I re-enabled TM with my Time Capsule, so I don't have a backup of the MBA hard drive, and I have to keep those files. And, of course, Apple cannot guarantee the safety of my data.

    So... I buy an external HD and some cables and bring it into work to do a bootable HD backup. (I don't have a monitor at home; the MBA was supposed to be a desktop replacement... Yes, I know...) Anyways, I plug the monitor in and get the second screen! The mouse cursor scrolls off to the right onto the second screen and everything, so the system must be fine; it must just be the video.

    Now I'm stuck. How do I enable single screen mode? Keep in mind that I'm flying blind on the first screen, so what key sequence would I use to open System Preferences etc. to enable mirroring or whatever?

    No, neither I nor work have any USB keyboards so I can't just drive it with the lid closed. I don't even know if keyboard only will work, so I may need a USB splitter to get both a keyboard and mouse on anyways, and neither I nor work have a splitter.
  2. Mintin8 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 4, 2009
    United Kingdom
    I wonder if it would work if you plugged it into an external display and backed up your files from there... Or would the external display be grey aswell?
  3. entaroadun thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2009
    The external display is fine and is showing the second screen. The problem is that everything is on the first screen, which I can't see, so I'm blind.

    How do I make the second screen show the first screen. Keep in mind that I can't see the first screen to begin with, so I'll need the key sequences to do everything blind without a mouse.
  4. mmoran27 macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2006
    Here is the solution to your problem.

    Start in Clamshell Mode.

    Power on with external display connected. Shut display.

    It should boot to external monitor as main.

    Or if it is asleep, plug in a usb keyboard or mouse to wake it (Leave lid shut). It should use second monitor as main.
  5. welshy1812 macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Glasgow, Scotland
    He said he has no keyboard or mouse...

    Hi, hopefully this will help.

    Once you boot up to your external display it should be quite simple, I've tried this myself and it seemed to work fine.

    Hit cmd+space to open spotlight

    type system and hit return/enter to open system preferences

    start typing arrange and then hit enter

    tab TWICE and then press the space bar

    This should switch to mirroring mode.
  6. entaroadun thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2009
    Perfect! If I close it and put it to sleep and use a mouse to wake it, the second monitor stays as main even if you put it to sleep again.
  7. entaroadun thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2009
    Even better! I use QS but "system" still brings up system prefs. Thanks!
  8. abl7635 macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2009
    My screen was only partly damaged, so I was able to get to mirrored mode using the visible left portion of the laptop lcd. Now that I'm setup with mirroring and my external display as the main monitor I'd like to turn off the laptop lcd display as I assume it's sucking up energy and graphic card juice to power two displays. I have read about the sleep strategy here and elsewhere but the problem is that my mbp does not wake from sleep. Closing the lid is not an option for me... I can do display sleep but not system sleep, it stays unresponsive until I do a hard reboot. If there is a config or preference file I can edit that would be better.
  9. dubhe macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Norwich, UK
    If you switch on voice over your computer will announce everything you are doing:

    Command + Fn (if Function keys are not enabled) + F5

    Then, you can navigate anywhere using key presses:

    Shift + Command + A will open Applications
    Right arrow
    'T' to bring up first item with 'T'
    Up arrow to get last item with 'S' - hopefully System Prefs
    Command + 'O' to open

    Type 'displays' - this will select it

    As you now move up and down the menus it will be 'voiced over'.
  10. abl7635 macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2009
    The voice over and keyboard navigation is an interesting way to navigate. That has nothing to do with what I asked for though. I can see everything perfectly fine on my external display. I have no interest of navigating using my laptop lcd alone. I want to disable the lcd on the laptop completely. I was even thinking about taking the lid/screen portion of the laptop off so that I could place the main keyboard portion of the laptop directly in front of my external display as it is annoying navigating/typing in a crooked position relative to the external display and in addition I think it would be a cool in a ghetto way =). My laptop is essentially functioning as a desktop replacement now. I would be happy with two possibilities. What I want to do is:

    1. Disable the laptop lcd display ensuring that the computer is not working to power it, I will be using external displays only.

    2. Removing the display/lid completely from the body of the laptop with the ability to put it back in the future if possible.

    These are tall orders I know so I'm not expecting perfection or anything. But anything helping me in that direction would be appreciated. There are plenty of people with more knowledge about Macs than I.
  11. stoconnell macrumors 6502

    Mar 22, 2009
    Rockville (Despite REM's plea.)
    Are you planning to use this with an external keyboard and mouse?

    If you just want to remove the screen, I think you can trick it into thinking it is in clam shell mode by using a small magnet near the button (below the touchpad). There is thread in the macbook forum regarding doing this by a poster whose screen broke off or he bought a broken one for cheap (I don't remember the particulars).

    Otherwise, just close the lid and use an external keyboard and mouse (bluetooth) or hookup to a USB hub. The only thing you lose here is some cooling. I am guessing some of the antennas are in the screen enclosure, so removing it might impact wireless or blue tooth reception.

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