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MacFixIt Answers

This week we have questions about monitor calibration with multiple graphics cards, window minimization options, screen zooming, and question mark symbols at bootup.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature from MacFixIt in which we answer questions e-mailed to us by our readers. We have been getting many questions from our readers, and we hope to share our correspondence so everyone may benefit from and contribute to them. This week we have questions about monitor calibration with multiple graphics cards, window minimization options, screen zooming, and question mark symbols at bootup.

Question: Monitor calibration with different graphics cards

MacFixIt reader outwest13 asked in our comments:

"I have the unibody MBP. I regularly switch between the two settings on my graphics card. I also use an external monitor that I color calibrate with software and hardware supplied by the manufacturer. Do I need to have two separate color profile settings. One for each of the graphics processors?"


You shouldn't have to, since the majority of color differences are with the output device (i.e., printer or monitor). There may be small differences depending on how drivers are configured, but they should be minimal because colors in digital format are "technically" the same, being represented as a number value. It's when they're interpreted and turned into luminance values on a monitor where the differences occur. The profile you already made for your monitor should be perfectly fine.

Question: Minimizing windows in OS X

MacFixIt reader Thomas comments on OS X windows:

"Apple needs to incorporate a minimize windows command a la Window Shade in Application Enhancer (now defunct). I know that Stacks allows one to quickly access previously opened apps and docs but a minimize function would be very useful."


I absolutely agree. Window Shade was a feature in the classic Mac OS that I have missed in OS X; however, there is an option for people still using 10.5 and earlier versions of OS X. For these users there is WindowShade X, which adds a number of minimizing functions to windows. Unfortunately it is not yet available for Snow Leopard, but hopefully the developers will update it soon. MacFixIt readers may also have other suggestions, but meanwhile I will keep an eye out for if and when WindowShade X gets updated for Snow Leopard.

Question: Screen zooming

MacFixIt reader Jules asks:

"My computer froze yesterday. I restarted. When it started back up, the screen moves with the mouse. It's almost as though the background is too big for the screen. I tried to adjust the background size but it didn't help. I don't know what to do and the moving screen is very annoying. Please help!"


This is probably because you have screen zooming enabled. This feature is part of Apple's Universal Access support, which helps impaired and disabled individuals use the computer. It can sometimes be inadvertently enabled with a hotkey combination, but also can be enabled in the system preferences. To disable it, try pressing the "option-command-8" key combination, or checking the Universal Access system preferences and turn off the Zoom feature.

Despite this being annoying, with the hotkey it can be useful for expanding the window either during presentations or other demonstrations, as well as when viewing movies or pictures that will not otherwise go to full-screen. In conjunction with the Zoom feature enabled, you can use the option-command-plus and option-command-minus key combinations to change the zoom level.

Question: Intermittent question mark at bootup

MacFixIt reader Roland asks:

"On programmed start-up (following a programmed shut-down from the night before) I'm getting a gray screen with a file folder icon and a flashing question mark. If I do a manual shut-down and restart this screen disappears and the computer works fine until the next morning's auto start-up. What's going on and how do I resolve this?

I'm guessing I have a corrupted file folder in the start-up process but I haven't a clue as to how to fix this."


This problem could be happening because the system does not have the start-up disk selected as the default one. For some reason the default start-up disk was reset on your system, so when the computer is booted it performs a search for a usable boot drive instead of immediately locating and booting off your start-up disk. To fix this, go to your Startup Disk system preferences and select the desired boot drive, then restart the system.

If the problem continues even after selecting the boot drive, try performing a PRAM reset and then reselecting the boot drive in the system preferences. The PRAM holds the settings for the default boot device, so the system does not have to perform a search at start-up. If the PRAM settings are corrupted or otherwise not able to be set, then the computer will not be able to save which drive is the default boot drive. A PRAM reset can be done by restarting the system and immediately holding down the option-command-P-R keys all at once. Hold them and let the system automatically reset several times, and then release them and allow the system to boot normally.

One additional problem may be if the motherboard battery is low or dying. If it is unable to hold a charge, then the system's PRAM may be reset when the system is shut down. This might also be accompanied by other problems such as the system date being reset, resolution changes at start-up, volume resets, and mouse pointer speed changes. If this is the case, then you will need to have the battery replaced by a technician.

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