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DVD movies, Ti books, and external monitors Apps
People with Titanium Powerbooks have been trying to figure out how to watch a DVD movie only on an external monitor, instead of in "mirrored" mode which runs both screens and leads to slow and jerky movie playback. Dave P. mailed the following to the Titanium G4 mailing list, hosted by
To watch a DVD on an external monitor only, you need to start the TiBook in "clamshell mode". The steps to do that are:
  1. Shut down the PowerBook as well as the TV (or VCR if that's what you connect the video to).
  2. Hook up the cord from the S-Video port to the TV (I use my VCR's VIDEO IN port). Use the adaptor from S-Video to RCA jack, if necessary (which is what I have to use). That adaptor came with my TiBook.
  3. Turn on the TV and/or VCR
  4. Start the TiBook
  5. As soon as the screen lights up (before you get the Happy Mac face), close the lid entirely
  6. Watch the Apple on the lid (which usually lights up)
  7. When that light goes out, open the lid back up
  8. Your video will be on the TV, but not on the Mac's screen
  9. Enjoy your DVD!
I don't own a Ti, but readers on the list report that this process works. For more Ti news, subscribe to the list...
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DVD movies, Ti books, and external monitors | 12 comments | Create New Account
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For Classic perhaps?
Authored by: joon on Nov 11, '01 06:16:11PM

Sounds like he's describing the DVD player in os 9 because you can't even get to play the DVD when there is more than one screen hooked up, at least with the original TiBooks (error: your configuration is not supported!). I know he just described how to do it with an external display only but still it sounds like a Classic situation because he was trying not to have 2 screens display at the same time which is not possible in X. I'm guessing it's because of the skimpy 8 MB of VRAM on my Ti (The window buffering probably takes alot more VRAM -I hope that's not the situation). The newer revs have 16 so maybe he's just talking about the newer models. I tried setting the screen res & bit-depth to its' lowest setting and I can kind of get it to work on 2 screens but it looks really bad. Any ideas?

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OS X...
Authored by: robg on Nov 11, '01 06:24:44PM

The comment was specific to 10.1 on a TiBook, but the model wasn't specified. The above steps don't work on your machine?


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OS X... (just tried it...)
Authored by: joon on Nov 12, '01 02:36:20PM

I had a chance to try it today and yes, it does work! Great tip! Just the other day I was trying to watch a DVD with some friends but I just couldn't figure it out. Apple should make it more straight foward in the future. I hope they do it soon. Thanks Rob for the post.

I'm still curious though. Does anyone know if the window buffering takes up more VRAM or if the buffers are stored in main RAM and pushed through the system bus.


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For Classic perhaps?
Authored by: stormcrow on Nov 11, '01 09:39:11PM

I've been able to do it in classic beautifully without a problem. You have to set the monitor res to 720 X 480 NTSC (in the US, 720 X 576 PAL in Europe) these resolution settings don't appear in OSX. Then drag the DVD display window onto the TV screen. Fill the screen in the Display settings and you should be golden.
note, this is to play the movie on your TV, never tried it on a monitor so I can't say if it would work there or not.

Again. I haven't done this in OSX, just 9.1


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It works in OS X!
Authored by: eagle_eyes on Nov 11, '01 09:55:50PM

I have a firewire PowerBook, which is virtually the same as the first generation Ti Book (all but the proccessor that is). The trick to getting it to work is as soon as the power button is hit then shut the lid on the PB. Make sure that the TV or monitor is on so that OS X thinks that is the primary monitor to use. The monitor or TV will be the only one running and the PB screen will remain black. Then sit back and enjoy the movie!

Great tip, now I will never have to boot into OS 9!

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Ti Rev. A, OS 10.1 confirmed
Authored by: brycesutherland on Nov 12, '01 02:07:12AM
I just followed eagle eye's instructions and can confirm that it works on a Rev. A TiBook under OS 10.1. The computer booted to the TV (the background image got removed -- it's too big I suppose) and the lid remains closed. I plugged in my pro mouse to access the DVD player and everything works fine. I'm watching Gladiator as I write this.

One note about picture quality: In addition to the large black bands on the top and bottom of the screen, there are also two smaller grey bands just above and below the actual picture. I don't remember if these gray bands appeared when using the OS 9 DVD player and my TV, or whether this is specific to the Gladiator DVD, but it looks acceptable overall (of course, my low-20s-inch TV is hardly optimal for this movie!).

This is great news!


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Just another DVD comment
Authored by: Mikey-San on Nov 12, '01 12:17:50AM

When I got my Ti, I grabbed a DVD and ran straight for my TV. I powered it [the Ti] up, shut the lid, and watched the video come up on the screen. It was quite awesome, despite the DVD being decoded by software decoding means.

The only real issue I have with 10.1's DVD player is how desaturated its video is when compared to the DVD player in 9. (Blacks simply aren't solid black, for example, which makes a huge difference when in fullscreen mode, watching a letterboxed movie on a Ti's screen.) One of the other techs here believes it may be somehow related to 9's Theater Mode, but I haven't bothered trying to verify that yet.

If anyone has an idea about that, I'm all ears.

Apple Product Professional
Apple Certified Service Technician
Service Dork, Capitol Mac Consultants

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Authored by: Anonymous on Nov 12, '01 09:42:44AM

This also works on the PB G3 Firewire. A reminder, is should not work on a nVidia system.

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Huh? DVD on Ti with 10.1?
Authored by: lholton on Nov 12, '01 11:42:02AM

For those who are playing DVD's on Ti powerbooks. Whats the trick? Whenever I try I receive a "NOT PERMITTED" error. I'm running at 500Mz with 512 meg ram on 10.1.

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Huh? DVD on Ti with 10.1?
Authored by: stormcrow on Nov 12, '01 01:01:54PM

Not sure. I got this error as well. Since I was able to actually play the DVD by quitting the player and opening it again while the DVD was in the drive, I assumed it had something to do with the auto-mount. I really don't know for sure though.

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Side benefit - third desktop background!
Authored by: Anonymous on Nov 14, '01 09:40:33PM

Here is automatic good news. Nobody wants green.tif as a desktop, that is unless you are watching a DVD as your desktop picture. The good news is if you set the green.tif as your desktop picture while your PowerBook is in clam-shell mode (per this tip), it'll be saved as a third desktop pref! When you return to your regular monitor setup, your favorite desktop picture will still be remembered as your desktop picture.

The next time you start in clamshell mode, the green.tif will return as the desktop image on the external monitor.

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DVD movies, Ti books, and external monitors
Authored by: frisch on Jul 26, '04 07:37:04AM

The easiest way with my TiBook and OS 10.3:

you don't need to restart your Powerbook.
1. connect the Powerbook to the TV and activate the TV in the preferences
2. bring the Powerbook to sleeping mode by closing the lid
3. use an external keyboard or mouse to end the sleeping mode. That activates the TV.
4. You can open your Powerbook. The display will be disabled until you activate it in the preferences

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