Is It Me, or Is It My Monitor?
December 19, 2011 8:35 PM   Subscribe

Displayfilter Part 2: Am I technologically doomed? Is my external display monitor really dead!? I can't believe I'm using up a second question about monitors, only a week after my first. While trying to set up an Extended Desktop today, my Monitor went black. Do you know how to fix it?

After working out the resolution issue on my external Samsung Syncmaster 2033 monitor last week, and learning that I needed to set up my Macbook Pro either in extended display mode (side by side) or clamshell mode, rather than something vague and in between, which is what I'd had, I thought I was all set.

Yeah, famous last words.

Clamshell mode seemed hard on the wires (although I see no damage) since I am using the Monitor with a laptop, after all, so I was constantly plugging and unplugging. It also seemed like a waste of a second monitor.

So today I rearranged everything on my desk and tried to set up an Extended Desktop. It worked briefly ... but not with the Samsung in native resolution, so I did a lot of research and much fiddling to figure out how each monitor could do its own resolution-oriented thing (after all that, I'm no longer sure they can), and ended up with a black screen on my just-out-of-warrantee, used, two-year-old Monitor.

Since then I've been unable to get any picture at all on the Monitor. The blue light is on at the bottom of the screen, but when I click the arrow button I get a display message that flips between Analog and Digital. Then it fades away and I get a "Check Signal Cable: Digital" message. But I have the Monitor attached through a new VGA cable!

I would reset the Digital/VGA preference in the Monitor's Menu, but the Monitor won't let me access it. Upon clicking the Menu Button, it says "Test Good." And that's it.

I also downloaded SwitchResX today, to see if that could help take control of things, but nada. I don't think I clicked anything serious on it, that could cause this, and I no longer remember the sequence of events, but sometime after (or maybe it was before!? Aghh!) installing it, the Monitor shone several colors and faded to black.

The Macbook Pro blinks if I look for other displays or try to gather them but is not recognizing them. And clearly the monitor isn't recognizing my Mac either.

I've looked through Apple forums, endless Google links, and I can't quite ascertain what's what. I even talked to Samsung's helpdesk, and they seemed to think it needed fixing (for more $ than I've got), but from all the chatter on the Internet, it seems like there's some faint hope that I caused this, and can therefore uncause this.

Can you help?
posted by Violet Blue to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
There is almost certainly nothing wrong with your monitor. Are you sure that you've connected using the VGA cable rather than hdmi or DVI? What happens if you unplug the monitor from the computer and then turn on the monitor? Can you access the menus then?

Finally, are you sure that you understand how to correctly navigate the monitor's menu? Often their buttons do double duty and it's easy to initiate, say, auto setup when you mean to do something else.
posted by The Lamplighter at 10:09 PM on December 19, 2011

I would start by finding a desktop computer to work with, so you don't have to wonder if you are actually getting any signal to the monitor.

If there is an auto button, try pressing that and waiting 15-20 seconds or so, and then doing that a few more times. I had a similar situation a while back with one of my monitors not being recognized, and for some reason that seemed to fix it. I think it was stuck in auto mode, but wouldn't recognize it, but once I got it into manual mode it was able to work.
posted by markblasco at 10:56 PM on December 19, 2011

Response by poster: A few answers:

* Yes, I'm definitely using a VGA cable (I don't have a DVI Cable). It's definitely plugged in; all the connections are tight.

* I could access the menus earlier this evening. But then later I couldn't. Not on my own. And not when Samsung's tech support instructed me to.

* I have navigated the monitor's menu successfully several times before.

* I DID activate the auto button. That's the arrow button. (I meant to say so in my original post.)

* I've just tried pressing the Auto button several times between 20 second waits, and after the analog/digital screen flashes a few times, everything now just fades to black.

When all this began the Monitor was in control via the Mac Screen Preferences Display menu. Then I tried to switch the set-up. Later, when the screen wasn't working at all, I pushed the Auto button on the Monitor. Several times, in fact. I wonder if I somehow need to reprogram the settings to accept VGA again. But I don't know how, now that I can't access the Monitor's menu.

Eek, finding a desktop will take some doing. But good idea if all else fails.

Thanks for the suggestions so far! Any other ideas, anyone? Money is a big issue at the moment. It's the reason I bought the screen used. And it's why I turn to Metafilter again on Display matters. If this thing dies two weeks of ownership in, I'll be hard pressed to replace it any time soon.
posted by Violet Blue at 11:43 PM on December 19, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, and final detail: After the Auto + wait experiment, my laptop is now not even flickering when I click on Detect Displays. (Sigh.)
posted by Violet Blue at 11:44 PM on December 19, 2011

Do you have another computer to test it with?

It could be something with the cable, possibly the internal connector inside the monitor, though.

Try unplugging the monitors *power* connection. Then plug it in and see if you can get to the menu when nothing is plugged in.
posted by delmoi at 3:24 AM on December 20, 2011

If you're ever seeing anything on the monitor, I doubt the monitor's fried. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely, I think.

Here are the steps I would follow:

*Shut down the computer, turn off the monitor.
*Unplug everything (both the power cables and the signal cables).
*Plug the power and the signal cable of the monitor back in again.
*Turn on the monitor
*Plug in and turn on the computer (it's still not connected to the signal cables, at this point)
*Plug in the VGA cable to the adapter dongle (the little white thing that plugs into your laptop).
*Finally, plug in the adapter dongle to the computer.

As a MBP user who is often plugging into external sources (either monitors or projectors), I find that always plugging in the dongle to the Macbook last avoids a lot of problems. I'm not saying you always have to do it in that order; sometimes it works fine doing it differently. But if you are having problems, that's a good place to start.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:17 AM on December 20, 2011

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