All you Mac lovers: I require assistance!

I've got a friend with a 15" Macbook Pro he's had for about a year, and he just picked up one of the 24" cinema displays. When he closes the Macbook and switches to solely using the monitor, the computer won't run video applications (like Netflix for example). I guess the video doesn't show up at all or lags to a great degree. It DOES work if he uses the monitor as an extended desktop. My guess is that somehow the GPU is powering down when the Macbook is closed. Anybody know how to fix this?

I'm trying to provide help over the phone and haven't had a chance to look at it myself. My google-fu is failing me on this one, so I figured I'd throw the question out to you guys in hopes of getting a quick answer.

I can't really say for sure, but you could try something like InsomniaX, which prevents Macbooks from sleeping on closing the lid. This would bypass the sleeping, but you'd still have it in extended desktop mode.

There is a little program called Caffeine on versiontracker that prevents your computer from sleeping also, lives in the menu bar and you can toggle it on and off.

There is not much Mac traffic here in the Tech section, but I bet if you go over to a site like Ars Technica with their big Mac section someone else has run into the same thing and can offer advice.

On a Mac, in the preferences menu for most video applications (Like VLC, Quicktime, and iTunes) is an item for which monitor to display full screen on. Make sure that it's set to the external cinema display. In addition, follow this guy's tips for making sure that the advanced GPU is always turned on so that it doesn't slip back to the integrated card instead. Those same system settings from his instructions should also prevent it from powering down when the lid is closed.

Yeah, trying Ars is not a bad idea. There's a number of us that have Macs (me included), but I don't think any of us are particularly expert. For me to help with your problem, I'd need to actually be at the Mac in question to understand the failure better, and to spend some time tinkering with different possible solutions. Remotely, I'm pretty much useless, I fear.

The guys/gals on Ars might already have experience with your specific issue.

Malor wrote:

Yeah, trying Ars is not a bad idea. There's a number of us that have Macs (me included), but I don't think any of us are particularly expert. For me to help with your problem, I'd need to actually be at the Mac in question to understand the failure better, and to spend some time tinkering with different possible solutions. Remotely, I'm pretty much useless, I fear.

The guys/gals on Ars might already have experience with your specific issue.

I may try that. I was hoping it was something simple. I haven't even had a chance to look at it myself to see exactly what's going on. If I can't figure it out once I actually have a chance to play with it, I'll try and get help at Ars Technica.

Well, I got a response after posting on Ars. It seems like the problem could simply be that the wi-fi doesn't hardly work on the MacBook Pro unibodies when the lid is closed. I'll have to test this, but I think the mystery has been solved. I wouldn't expect closing the lid to destroy the wi-fi capabilities... kinda weird.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

Well, I got a response after posting on Ars. It seems like the problem could simply be that the wi-fi doesn't hardly work on the MacBook Pro unibodies when the lid is closed. I'll have to test this, but I think the mystery has been solved. I wouldn't expect closing the lid to destroy the wi-fi capabilities... kinda weird.

WiFi signals can't pass through the aluminum, so when the laptop is closed there's probably next to nowhere for the signal to get in.

I have the '09 iMac with the aluminum back (they used to have plastic backs) and the only area where the WiFi isn't blocked is the small plastic Apple logo on the front.

Wow if that is the case that sucks. I have never tried to run my unibody MBP closed, but good to know. If he is using it closed with a monitor presumably he is at a desk or something, is there any way he could run a network cable? At least try one to test it and then you have an easy answer.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Wow if that is the case that sucks. I have never tried to run my unibody MBP closed, but good to know. If he is using it closed with a monitor presumably he is at a desk or something, is there any way he could run a network cable? At least try one to test it and then you have an easy answer.

I think he's got his router right next to the desk, so it won't be an issue using an ethernet cable or just leaving the lid cracked open.

I havent had that problem and I often use my macbook pro with the lid closed and a monitor plugged in. I dont have a solution, but to test the video versus online video to see if it is wifi that is lagging it out is a good idea.