help me boot my macbook with a dead screen to an external monitor.
February 18, 2012 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Staff member's MacBook (four years old or so, probably running osx 10.4 to 10.6, I'm not sure on this) has a dead screen. I have a back-up machine for them, and want to migrate them to the new machine... The old computer boots, I can JUST barely see the screen enough to log in, but after that, can't see enough to do anything. I can attach an external monitor (I've tried two different monitors, the result is the same), it boots to the initial starry background, and although I can log onto the computer as noted above, the external monitor never changes from that background. No windows, no menu bar, no dock, just that background and the cursor arrow.

It seems I've run into this before using an external monitor/projector, but can't remember how I solved it. My googling hasn't found the answer.

A solution that can be done with keyboard commands without being able to see the screen are necessary.
posted by HuronBob to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Way to waste a question, Bob.... after fooling with this for two hours, I posted this question and my next google found THIS, and it worked:

"Connect any USB device and close the lid. Disconnecting the device should wake it up and display on the external. Then, open the lid and use the keyboard and mouse to drive. (Or, you might need to have an external mouse and keyboard connected.)"

carry on!
posted by HuronBob at 12:54 PM on February 18, 2012

Best answer: The reason you don't see a menu bar is because the computer is extending the desktop onto the second monitor since it still thinks the main screen is working.

The key command for switching to video mirroring is Command-F1 (or try Fn-Command-F1). On some older models it's just F7 (or try Fn-F7), in case that doesn't work.

Or you could plug in a keyboard/mouse, close the lid, and wake it up using the external keyboard.
posted by bcwinters at 12:55 PM on February 18, 2012

Oops, shoulda previewed ;)
posted by bcwinters at 12:55 PM on February 18, 2012

FWIW since you were just going to migrate you could have used Target Disk Mode. reboot holding the T key. Firewire cable still works with the older systems.
posted by Gungho at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2012

Best answer: What you have set is extended monitor where extra monitors are not mirrored but act as extra workspace. If you hit function (fn) and f7 it should be mirrored.
posted by dstopps at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2012

sorry, too late
posted by dstopps at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2012

I see you've got your answer, but in case others have this issue, if you can just barely see the screen but otherwise the LCD screen is fine, its likely that the fluorescent backlight that has failed. In the past when I've needed to operate a MacBook with a broken backlight and did not have access to an external monitor, I've done so with the aid of a flashlight (It's kind of a pain, but it works well enough for emergencies). Just hold the head of the flashlight flush with the laptop's screen — the screen will be readable for a few inches around the flashlight.
posted by RichardP at 1:00 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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