Rotate MacBook Display Orientation

Mar 30, 2011 - 20 Comments


The same way that you rotate screen orientation on a display connected to a Mac can be done with the built-in display of a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air (pictured).

  • Launch System Preferences (quit it if it’s already open)
  • Hold down the Command+Option keys and click on “Display”
  • Look for ‘Rotation’ on the right side of the Display window and take your pick

After the display has been rotated, the resolutions adjust from width x height to height x width. Here’s a screenshot taken with the display on a MacBook Air set at 90° rotation:


If System Preferences is already open then holding down Command+Option doesn’t seem to make the Rotatation menu appear. If you run into that, just quit out of System Prefs and relaunch it.

Note: This does have some practical use, as you can see in a recent Mac setup post showing a MacBook Pro sideways next to a Cinema Display.

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Posted by: AJ in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Brian Hanifin says:

    I tried to rotate my 2010 MacBook Pro’s monitor, and it worked, but since the trackpad does not rotate the screen reverted to normal before I could click [confirm].

  2. fstop says:

    Didn’t you guys just write about this like two days ago?

  3. […] [via] Tags: Display, drehen, MacBook, rotieren, Tipp, Trick « Previous Post blog comments powered by Disqus /* */ /* */ /* */ […]

  4. Dean says:

    OSXDaily should add… only do this if you have an SSD hard drive in your MacBook. A regular hard drive can be damaged by running it while turned sideways.

    • Zippi says:

      You are wrong..
      However, if you have a CD/DVD in the drive, that may a problem.. i’m not sure about that..
      Correct me, if i’m wrong!

      • Alex Baeza says:

        Turning your machine sideways will not have any affect on your hard drive or your cd/dvd.
        Way back in the early days of computers, some hard drives did have this problem, but that is not an issue now. And your cd/dvd is locked in place and the laser that reads it is not affected by the way you hold your computer.

  5. Alberto says:

    “A regular hard drive can be damaged by running it while turned sideways.”

    It is a “legend”, an HD can work without problem in any position.

  6. James says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Alberto… that’s completely untrue.

    I’ve used my MacBook Pro as a desktop with a HengeDock for a long time and have no trouble. And everywhere you go, you see desktop boxes that are on their side on the floor to save space.

  7. DAZ says:

    Has anyone figured out how to rotate the screen orientation on the new 2011 MacBook Pros? Not being able to do it is driving me crazy!

  8. Chat Lag Ate My Message says:

    Daz: I got my 17″ MBP in Feb. 2011, and the trick above works just fine with it. If the command + option doesn’t work, quit out of system prefs and relaunch it. :) It’s an amazing trick that I’m going to utilize in a classroom assignment next week.

  9. […] Pro?I'd like to rotate the display of my Macbook Pro 90 degrees, and found instructions here:…Holding down option-command when selecting "display" does reveal the hidden pulldown menu, […]

  10. Kevin says:

    God bless you! This worked for my Macbook Air. Strange why Apple disabled it by default?!?!?!

  11. David McGuigan says:

    Sadly this doesn’t work on Mountain Lion, or at least the Retina MacBook Pro. I desperately need to do this. :(

  12. David McGuigan says:

    Oh wow quitting and relaunching made it work! Horray! Thanks Chat Lag Ate!

  13. […] * Teaching tips you can use: How to Rotate Your Macbook’s Orientation. […]

  14. Sig Disig says:

    I have tried to do this numerous times. I really needed it to work today and tried many times again.

    * Launch System Preferences (quit it if it’s already open)
    **** Hold down the Command+Option keys and click on:
    1) System Prefrences and
    2) then on “Display”
    * And yes, I finally managed to find the ‘Rotation’ on the right side of the Display window

    PS: I have an 2009 Macbook Pro – 13″

  15. Tash says:

    Doesn’t seem to work on Macbook Pro 2007… Is this correct?

  16. AndrewK says:

    Works for my mid2009 macbook on 10.9. Had to quit and relaunch preferences.

    Did need to hold the keys when I launched sys pref as well as when I clicked on displays.

  17. ikke says:

    command+control worked for me

  18. Kim Valdovinos says:

    did not work for me–even when pushing the appropriate keys down, it keeps saying “PREFERENCES ERROR–Could not load the Display Preferences Pane.”
    what am I missing here???

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