Blog Post

How to Fix OS X 10.5.7 DVI-HDMI Screen Resolution Issues

Apple (s aapl) had finally released OS X 10.5.7, so I downloaded the combo updater in preparation to install on my three Macs. After installing the update on my MacBook Pro and my wife’s iMac without any issues, I ran the combo updater on my Mac mini that’s hooked up to my TV.

My TV’s native resolution is 1360×768 and ever since I got the Mac mini, this has worked flawlessly and with an extremely crisp picture when using a DVI-HDMI cable. So it was to my dismay when, after installing OS X 10.5.7 and the mini rebooted, the resolution displayed was completely wrong. “Ah, it must have reset, I’ll go change it back,” I thought to myself. So I went to the Display preference pane in System Preferences and looked for 1360×768, but it wasn’t there. I blinked and looked again; it still wasn’t there.

I tried all the other various resolutions, such as with the over-scan option turned on and then again with it turned off. Nothing looked right or displayed properly, and I was aghast. My wife would be wanting to watch the latest episode of “Master Chef” being recorded by EyeTV later in the evening and she wouldn’t be happy to hear that I had done something to the setup that was working excellently before I “fixed something that wasn’t broken and broke it.”

So I started searching and found that this is a common issue caused by the 10.5.7 upgrade. Quite simply, it seems that the DVI supported resolution detection is now broken. Apple is apparently aware of the issue and its developers are looking into it — but there’s no word on an ETA for a fix. If you have a Mac that you regularly hook up to your TV via DVI-HDMI, it would be advisable to stay on 10.5.6 for now.

In the meantime, if the horse has already bolted before you shut the stable doors and you’ve already upgraded, there are two workarounds that you can do to restore your TV’s native resolution.

1. Go back to VGA
If your TV has a standard PC VGA input, you can use a DVI-VGA adapter instead of DVI-HDMI. This will make the correct resolution available again in the Display preference pane. Of course this goes backwards in technology to an analog signal, but it will still look better than the wrong resolution. This is what I’ve done for now — my wife can’t see the difference between VGA and HDMI anyway, so she’s happy.

2. Use ScreenResX to get your resolution back
A useful utility called ScreenResX can be installed. This lets you customize and tweak which resolutions are available in the Display preferences (even creating custom resolutions as required). ScreenResX is available as a 10-day trial and the good news here is that once you’ve created the new resolution and made it available in the Display preferences, you can uninstall ScreenResX.

To keep up-to-date on this issue, keep an eye on this discussion thread on the Apple support forums. This also lists various ScreenResX settings people have used to get their resolution back, so is a useful reference point to assist with this. Hopefully Apple will fix this issue soon, as it does great damage to its “It just works” motto.

29 Responses to “How to Fix OS X 10.5.7 DVI-HDMI Screen Resolution Issues”

  1. Dave Wilson

    I lived with it under 10.5.7 – and just installed 10.5.8 – and still no fix : Z.

    Apple what is your problem? You were meant to be aware of the problem and yet you haven’t fixed it?

    You really know how to Pi55 people off.

  2. Matt Smith

    I installed 10.5.7 last night not knowing about this issue, spent the day researching how to fix, and downloaded switch res Rx when i got home. It worked perfectly.

    Thanks for the advice…I actually think my display looks better after setting everything up with the advanced settings.

    All is good.

  3. The only way I can see my HD MM mini at all after the 10.5.7 update is in “safe mode”, and the “display” is 576 lines of low resolution PAL annoyance. Though the projector will at least show the system is running, which I suppose is… something. I can get my data off if I have to knock it back to the install CD. If I can find it. Anyone remember what the original shipped OS was for a PPC mini? 10.3? Oy vey (slaps forehead) This thing was so pretty in 720p. :(

    In normal boot, I get a green screen, no OS rendering at all.

    So in safe mode, I tried ScreenResX, but I can’t get it to save, or keep any resolution. Nothing shows in the display prefs in safe mode, reboot or no, and of course, I can’t see anything UNLESS the machine is booted in safe mode, so who knows what the normal prefs look like. Plus — amazingly — it doesn’t have standard HD timings and resolutions in its “typical” list. Unbelievable.

    Any suggestions are welcome. I have tried deleting prefs and… files (carefully), no dice, no changes either way. I also bought DisplayConfigX, but paying for it doesn’t seem to be the thing that gets you an actual registration code. Web site says “several days” may go by, which makes me want to chew on someone’s leg. It’s been hours already, no registration key. And… because ScreenResX didn’t work, I’m not feeling very hopeful about DisplayConfigX, either.

    I also tried to use the mouse and the keyboard to go, stepwise, into the display prefs using my macbook pro as a guide for what windows were open, when. And then try to select the topmost mode. The steps that work on the macbook pro didn’t do squat on the mini. Of course, I couldn’t see what I was doing, so who knows if I got it right — windows might not have been ready, etc.

    I sure wish Apple would spend some of that money it’s sitting on properly TESTING things.

  4. Danny B

    When I use my Macbook Pro DVI out to play DVDs from my laptop DVD player or laptop hard drive on my projector (Sanyo PLV-Z60) I find that I lose all detail in the blacks and the falloff into detailless black happens quite swiftly. This does not happen when I play DVDs from my standalone DVD player. Any idea how I may fix this?

  5. Same problem Here, so I did an “Archive and install” then go and stop at 10.5.6 / XRes and so called software did not work for me. 10.5.7 is required to play some games…dont know…will chat with TSPS.

  6. I tried to install a previous version of OSX 10.5.0 and it worked fine. System recognizes my screens native resolutions immediately. I Upgraded up to 10.5.5 and it is still fine! It seems that something changed after version 10.5.6 for intel graphic cards support on Macs. With 10.5.6 you need a special software tool like DisplayConfigX to solve the problem and with version 10.5.7 you cannot do anything but using a VGA cable. I also tried beta version of Snow Leopard and the problem still remains. My suggestion is stay with OSX version 10.5.5.

  7. Jonny

    I have a macbook which i connect to my 56″ plasma via hdmi. after the update i get video however the resolution is all screwed up and i cant seem to get it working correctly. the video on the actual macbook is fine, just the output to the plasma. not sure what res i was using before hand because it automatically formatted.

  8. slowtvdog

    On a related topic, did any of you have trouble with EyeTV-lite after your upgrade to v10.5.7 ? I use EyeTV-lite on my main iMac (not the HTPC) and it worked perfectly prior to my upgrade to OS X v10.5.7. After the upgrade, I’ve started experiencing video stutter problems. It’s virtually unusable now as the video stutter periodicity is about 15 seconds.

  9. Gareth Watson

    I had this too. however, I found a setting to the TV to change the HDMI input to PC rather than HD, as soon as i did this it went back to normal.


  10. click

    I face exactly the same problem! I used to use DisplayconfigX application to add 1360×768 resolution to the list under display settings. With 10.5.6 it worked fine and desktop filled my TV screen. Now with 10.5.7 I can’t see the desktop at all when I choose this resolution. I also tried ScreenResX but the result is the same. Apparently there is a problem with 10.5.7!

  11. Bernhard

    Had the same issue with my Pioneer plasma (1360×768) hooked to a mini and EyeTV – apart from this hiccup an awesome combination.
    Nice thing is that it can swallow full HD resolution and does some downscaling so after the update I still could see what was going. My way was doing a full restore to the state before update using time machine. Worked well and 1h later all was done.
    There is some rumur on the net that ScreeResX does some fiddling deep inside the graphics driver and that could break future updates. So I recommend sticking with 10.5.6 until Apple fixes this. But still I feel uncomfortable since there is a shitload of security stuff inside the update

  12. Karl Becker

    It is hurtful to the shareware community to straightforwardly suggest deleting an app that was very useful. A very simple edit, which does not change the effectiveness of your article at all, but also does not encourage ethically-dubious software usage, would be to change this sentence:
    “ScreenResX is available as a 10-day trial.”

  13. Tim Haines

    Andrew, It’s disappointing to see you recommending an indy developers software for a solution, and then suggesting people delete it instead of purchasing it. The software is less than 15 Euros to register, and it just saved your ass from a thrashing from your wife. Give the man the money he deserves.

  14. pot calling the kettle
    A useful utility called ScreenResX can be installed. This lets you customize and tweak which resolutions are available in the Display preferences (even creating custom resolutions as required). ScreenResX is available as a 10-day trial and the good news here is that once you’ve created the new resolution and made it available in the Display preferences, you can uninstall ScreenResX.

    Cheap fecker, the software saved your bacon and you still won’t pay for it, shameful shit…

  15. craig

    After a few hours of trying to fix this, my mac mini is rendered useless. The LG TV I use (via DIV to HDMI) won’t even give me a picture after the apple start up screen. It gives me a flicker now and then, but not enough to be able to try to install ScreenResX to apply the fix. I don’t have a DVI to VGA adaptor to try out.

    I took it to the nearest mac store to borrow a VGA monitor to install ScreenResX and create my old resolutoin (I created a new 1360 x 768 setting which I set, and brought my mini home and back plugged into the TV again) – but I just get the same result.

    So it seems like the mini is picking up the DVI to HDMI and automatically applying some resolution that won’t display on my TV?

    I guess the only thing to do is to fork out for a DVI to VGA adaptor and try it through VGA. And I’m sure I will waste another week trying to get the cost of that refunded by Apple support!

  16. craig

    I had exactly this problem, and while experimenting to find a resolution that would look ok (since the 1360×768 was gone), I chose a resolution that only blinks my screen on and off. I cannot change this resolution, and therefore can’t see my desktop to solve the problem! I have tried rebooting in safe mode, but I can’t see anything.

    So now what? I have to go buy another monitor? or DIV to VGA cable? thanks for ruining my weekend Apple.

  17. Keith

    Did the same here on my Mini attached to a little LCD TV–same res 1360×768, gone. Fixed it with DisplayConfigX as ScreenResX didn’t readily work for me.

    If you’re in the state where you may need to know how, I hooked the same TV up to my MacBook in 1360×768 mode and got the working timing parameters from DisplayConfigX.

  18. The important lesson learned here is that when you are dealing with a home theater setup I chose not to update my computer at all once I’ve reached a good working state. That is of course unless an upgrade will cause some extra sort of functionality that I don’t have with the installed revision.

  19. Okay…So I’m curious. We ONLY use our Mac Mini (intel Core Duo 1.6) for our TV (Satellite via eyeTV). I have it hooled up DVI-VGA, and the resolution is rthe same oas yours under 10.5.6…all good (I’ll hold off on the update on that machine, as you suggest).

    My question is…should I shell out the clams for a DVI-HDMI cable? Is it worth it in terms of video quality? If you use that setup, and wouldn’t mind trying it the other way (VGA), or if you’ve tried it before… how would you rate the improvement in visual appearance?

    Thanks for this useful post! It’s gonna save me from my wife’s frustrations, too!