Turn, turn, turn

by Giles Turnbull

My new Mac mini's Displays preference panel allows me to spin the display through 90, 180 or 270 degrees. Here's what it looks like at 90 degree spin on my Mitsubishi Diamond Pro monitor:



Sideways OS X desktop



This feature is not enabled on all Macs. On some (Power Macs, some PowerBooks, Mac minis), it is visible by default. On other machines, a hidden command makes it available. On most older or low-spec machines, it simply isn't available and won't work. It all depends on video cards.



Much of the discussion I've seen about this feature on the web has been restricted to how cool it is.



There's no doubt it's cool, but I want to know why it is there in the first place.



Maybe: Apple wants to cater for users who own swivel-capable monitors that can display vertically. Or, Apple plans to announce a new series of displays that all have a new, swivel-enabled stand out of the box.



But there's something about this that bothers me. For some time now, Apple has been pushing hardware and software that maximizes use of horizontal space. Quicktime, iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, the Dock - all are designed, by default, to stretch out sideways. That's why they look so great on a 30 inch Cinema display. It's also why the smart people put their Dock on one side of the screen, because vertical space is at a premium and by moving the Dock to one side, they can reclaim a few precious pixels at the bottom of the screen.



Rotating the screen to a vertical position throws all this stuff out the window. Luxuriant sidelong apps suddenly look cramped and uninviting. But apps related to reading and writing start to work better.



So maybe it's something else. Maybe Apple is working on an unannounced device in which a rotated screen makes sense - some kind of tablet or laptop with a swivel screen; something that could be held casually in one hand and used in situations where people want to read, and write.




Anyone got any better reasons?


7 Comments

msporleder
2005-06-27 11:41:19
remember the 80's
Didn't Apples do this in the 80's?
I recall a commercial with white text on a blue screen relating some wisdom about letters being longer than they are wide.
waynesmallman
2005-06-27 14:52:29
Radius Pivot
I know someone made a monitor that rotated like this in the 90's, and I'm almost certain it was Radius...
klb
2005-06-28 06:01:38
Positioning the dock
Giles, I have to disagree with your statement that "It's also why the smart people put their Dock on one side of the screen, because vertical space is at a premium and by moving the Dock to one side, they can reclaim a few precious pixels at the bottom of the screen." The implication of that statement is that if you don't do that, then you're "not smart," i.e. "stupid."


I leave the dock at the bottom of the screen and check "Automatically hide and show the Dock". That way, I reclaim those few precious pixels on every edge of my screen and only have the dock taking up those precious pixels when I need it to.


I make no claims to any sort of superior intelligence, but I do know quite a few smart people who do the same thing I do with their dock. I also know some smart people who position the dock on the side like you do. The point being that truly "smart" people don't insinuate that anyone who doesn't do something the way they do (especially something as insignificant as positioning the dock) isn't "smart."

dicckapplebaum
2005-07-12 08:58:32
80s and 90s
Radius did, in fact, make a display called the Pivot,


Before that, Corvus made a computer with a full-page screen that could be positioned (by 3 strong men) to display in "Portrait" or "Landscape" mode (AIR, it required a reboot to change)


As to the Vertical Display with white letters on a blue background-- that may have been the Xerox Parc Alto computer--where many of today's computer features began.


Dick

dicckapplebaum
2005-07-12 08:58:35
80s and 90s
Radius did, in fact, make a display called the Pivot,


Before that, Corvus made a computer with a full-page screen that could be positioned (by 3 strong men) to display in "Portrait" or "Landscape" mode (AIR, it required a reboot to change)


As to the Vertical Display with white letters on a blue background-- that may have been the Xerox Parc Alto computer--where many of today's computer features began.


Dick

dicckapplebaum
2005-07-12 08:58:35
80s and 90s
Radius did, in fact, make a display called the Pivot,


Before that, Corvus made a computer with a full-page screen that could be positioned (by 3 strong men) to display in "Portrait" or "Landscape" mode (AIR, it required a reboot to change)


As to the Vertical Display with white letters on a blue background-- that may have been the Xerox Parc Alto computer--where many of today's computer features began.


Dick

RB
2006-03-21 03:36:13
What is the hidden command for reorienting to portrait/landscape to which you refer?


RB