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I have recently purchased an external monitor that I am connecting to my MacBook Pro (Late 2009) using the MiniDisplay-to-VGA adapter. I have both the external monitor and the MacBook's monitor set to "Best Available" resolution in OS X Lion. Whenever the computer "wakes up" from its sleeping state, the resolution setting for the external monitor is "forgotten". Every time the computer "wakes up", the resolution of the external monitor is set to match the MacBook's monitor.

The only reason I am using the VGA cable rather than a DVI cable, is because I do not have the MiniDisplay-to-DVI adapter. Will switching to DVI solve the problem? Is there any known way to solve this issue other than getting a utility to reset the resolution manually every time?


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Not sure if that is the problem. It sounds like your computer isn't storing the list of previous screen profiles it has been connected to. I know that once i connect to a screen there is a profile stored somewhere that has information like what the resolution it is set to, arrangement of screens, wallpaper, etc. Sounds like thats failing to save. My suspicion is the file ~/Library/Application Support/Preferences/com.apple.desktop.plist isn't getting updated. But I'm not sure if thats where it is getting stored either. –  Chad Marmon Mar 17 '13 at 3:06
Out of interest is this issue still fixed? I'm faced with the same thing (now), since a recent update (on 10.8.3 now). I also notice now (since update) that the bluetooth mouse appears to be waking mine from sleep where as it never used to, I only used to be able to wake it using the bluetooth keyboard... PRAM reset didn't fix it for me :/ –  nzcoops Mar 27 '13 at 1:01
The issue still happens, but with much less frequency since I reset the NVRAM (as indicated in the approved answer). –  Christian Correa Mar 27 '13 at 15:42

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I recommend you reset your NVRAM. This chip stores information on screen resolution and can often become corrupted. You can reset it by starting your Mac while holding down cmd + opt + P + R . You should hear the Mac chime, restart and chime a second time. Then you can release the keys you are holding. More info here.

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Thank you for the information. After resetting the NVRAM with the instructions you mention, the resolution seems to be 'remembered' correctly after the computer comes back from its sleep state. –  Christian Correa Mar 18 '13 at 11:12

I found an easy way around this and I hope it helps people. I tried resetting the NVRAM and it did not help. I am pretty sure it is due to flaw in the OS upgrade.

Here is the fix. Set up video so that when you move to the top left corner, the video shuts off. When you come out of sleep, if the resolution is low, move the mouse to the top left to shut the video off. If you left click the mouse in the position, it should reset the optimal resolution as it does with my MacBook Pro 15"

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"When you come out of sleep" is required to make this solution work, i.e. if your Mac is not sleeping and your external monitor resolution is low then put your Mac to sleep (apple menu), then wake it up, then "if the resolution is low.." –  Ando Jan 28 at 17:13

Well none of this worked for me. This is what I did before I found the issue.

After the computer would come back on after sleep (macbook pro mavericks, screaming computer with 8gigs ram, retina) the right side monitor, out of the 2 monitors I have plugged in by VGA->DVI, continued to be reset from 1600x900 to 800x600. I would:

  • Unplug the DVI port from the mac. No luck.
  • Unplug and power off the monitor, turn back and on and plug back in. No luck.
  • Unplug, power off monitor, restart mac, plug back in, and then power back on. No luck.
  • Go to display settings, push Option to get "Detect Displays", clicked, no change.
  • Turn everything off, restart computer while pushing Command + Option + P + R, turn everything back on, plug back in... STILL not resetting back to best display for that monitor.

Needless to say I was getting pretty frustrated. Until I thought, what about unplugging the VGA from the DVI adaptor? Well I did that, connected back together and voila, screen reset.

So to anyone that has this problem in the future, it could be something in the actual DVI adaptor that could be having the issue too! If all fails, try unplugging the adaptor from your monitor cable and see if that works. It did for me.

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I found a super easy fix for when this happens to me. My external monitor is plugged into a power strip and if I flip the power of the strip off and then back on again the external monitor shows me options for display resolution if I am in display preferences on my Macbook Pro (Mid 2010). I hope this helps.

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