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Apr 21 10 7:31 AM

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Originally Posted by EricN on February 23, 2010 at 6:45pm

I've finally got what I've been working toward: a screen rotation app that rotates my Modbook's display orientation to match the orientation that I'm holding it, and it is free — as in beer. As a bonus, it will work on any Modbook or MacBook even those without NVIDIA graphics (but notice the caveat below: the portrait orientations may not be very usable). 


MacFlip -- a Display Rotation Applet


When launched, this Applescript applet automatically rotates an Apple notebook display to match the orientation at which the notebook is held. It is designed with the Axiotron Modbook (a modification of an Apple MacBook) in mind, but works with an ordinary MacBook as well. Note, however, some (most, actually) MacBook/Modbooks do not properly support 90º and 270º orientations. This applet will work with such notebooks, but the 90º and 270º orientations will have limited usability. The applet, however, works great on MacBooks with NVIDIA graphics chip sets. It is also likely that it works well on MacBook Pro notebooks. 


An Apple MacBook or Axiotron Modbook running either Leopard or Snow Leopard. (Tested on OSX 10.5.8 & OSX 10.6.2)


After uncompressing the "" file, move The "" file found inside the "MacFlip" folder to a location of your choice. The Applications folder works fine. 


The use is straightforward. The orientation of the display is rotated to match the users orientation of the notebook. There are, however, a few refinements: 

1) Turn the notebook over with display/base facing down for a count of two, and the app pauses --- effectively freezing the display in its present orientation.2) Turn the notebook over again for a count of two to reactivate the app --- allowing the display to rotate in response to tilting the notebook again.3) Turn the notebook over for a count of five to quit the app entirely. Clicking on the dock icon and selecting Quit from The MacFlip menu will also quit the app.

In addition, to make it more convenient to pause and restart MacFlip, the download now includes a Scripts folder containing "ToggleMacFlip.scpt", which toggles MacFlip between the paused and active state. This only works when MacFlip is running. If you are using Snow Leopard, you could use Automator to put this script in the Services Menu and attach a keyboard shortcut to it. Alternatively, you could use Quicksilver, Butler or Launchbar to attach it to an Abracadabra gesture, keystroke, or menu item. Note that this script only works with versions of MacFlip updated on or after March 15, 2010.   


As the app has no way to be certain of whether it is running on a MacBook or a Modbook, it assumes that it is working on a Modbook. Hence the display rotations are based on orientations of the notebook base. On a MacBook, you may want display orientation based on screen orientation. There is an initial dialog box that allows you to make that choice. If that is chosen, the script assumes that the screen is propped up at a 60º angle, and the display rotations are adjusted accordingly.

When I use MacFlip with a MacBook, I prefer to leave it in the "modbook" mode since that mode allows me to easily adjust my display orientation by briefly tilting the notebook base in the appropriate direction.

[Note that MacFlip will not work in the eleven or thirteen inch MacBook Airs of October 2010 since neither notebook has a sudden motion sensor.]


In order to calculate the orientation of your notebook, MacFlip uses data from your notebook's sudden motion sensor (SMS). Not-uncommonly, a notebook's  SMS is poorly calibrated, that is, has an unconventional notion of which way is down. This, of course, can affect the functioning of MacFlip. If you feel that MacFlip is rotating the display at inappropriate orientations, consider calibrating your notebook's SMS. Daniel Griscom's free application, SeisMaCalibrate, makes calibrating your SMS a simple, five minute process. SeisMaCalibrate is available at: 

Download:  [last updated April 2, 2010]

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Apr 21 10 7:41 AM

Original Reply by EricN on February 24, 2010 at 8:16am

It required a bit of hunting and a number of false starts to find the display rotation solution that allowed me to rebuild my MacFlip script unencumbered by a commercial utility, that is, allowed me to offer it for FREE. Over the course of my efforts, I left a number of questions at scripting and Apple sites. Those questions were left unanswered. I eventually found my solution amongst the sample code at Amit Singh's Mac OSX Internals book site in the form of a C program, fb-rotate, that compiles into a cute little Unix utility that can rotate any display your computer is attached to. Apparently, this little utility is not well known.

That is too bad, because it is simple to use and very fast. Here is how it works: Download the file below and move the fb-rotate file [NOT the fb-rotate.c] to the desktop. Open the Terminal app, and start playing:

~$ cd Desktop

~/Desktop$ ./fb-rotate

usage: fb-rotate -l

fb-rotate -d -r <0|90|180|270>

~/Desktop$ ./fb-rotate -l # Lists the display IDs

Display ID Resolution

0x19156030 1280x800 [main display]

~/Desktop$ ./fb-rotate -d 0x19156030 -r 180 # Rotates indicated display by 180 degrees

~/Desktop$ ./fb-rotate -d 0 -r 0 # Rotates the Main display back to zero degrees

[Warning: Some of the white MacBooks have difficulty rotating 90º or 270º and the resulting display may be difficult to use.]

In an Applescript, one can readily make use of this utility using "Do shell script".

Have Fun.

Download: [Original version]


A new and ‘improved’ version of fb-rotate is available in the thread “A Unix Utility to Change the Primary Display on OSX”.

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#2 [url]

Apr 21 10 8:23 AM

Original Reply by Michel of dev.xiligroup on March 21, 2010 at 1:26pm

As suggested (afraid by motion detection), I use fb-rotate and incorporate it inside a applescript app as described here

Hope it will be helpful

Congratulations for this site...

Michel of dev.xiligroup

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Reply by EricN on March 21, 2010 at 5:05pm

Excellent, thank you for offering your script.

Your dialog box driven "xili-displays-pivot" applet is a great way offer display rotation for MacBook users who only need to rotate their displays occasionally.

Note that does not consistently work on a Modbook and is likely to fail similarly on other Wacom displays such as Cintiqs. When a Modbooks display or a Cintiq display is rotated, the pen digitizer is rotated as well. Unfortunately, when rotating 180º at a time, the digitizer doesn't always have time to rotate, leaving the pen 180º out of sync with the display. In order to address this problem, I have found it is best to only rotate 90º at a time with an appropriate delay between rotations. [See the "ChangeDisOrient(notebookOrient)" handler in MacFlip.]

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Reply by Michel of dev.xiligroup on April 1, 2010 at 11:32pm

A good idea but not very good for ascendant cmd compatibility. Why not use a new command like -lf (list full) or -la (list all). Because need to rewrite all lines of AppleScript to decode result... Another note: before= an unique explode with space as separator built easily a array with one line... now= unexpected spaces in display bounds causes difficulties to separe each columns... Hope it will be useful for a next version...

Best regards - Michel of

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Reply by EricN on April 2, 2010 at 10:28am

I've decided that your first point is correct, and I've withdrawn the update. I'll re-issue it with the expanded info under the switch -i.

I'm not quite with you on your second point, however. Consider that every info field is always at the same character positions. So, for example, finding the origin of the internal display is very easy:

do shell script fbRotatePath & " -l | /usr/bin/grep 'internal'"

return {(items 28 thru 32 of result) as text as integer, (items 34 thru 38 of result) as text as integer}

Reply by EricN on April 4, 2010 at 9:35pm

I have decided to make some minor improvements in fb-rotate’s -l option, which lists the displays so that you can determine the ID of the display. As it stands, if you have multiple identical displays, there is not enough information to know which display ID associates to which display.

I have made my changes with three goals in mind:

To make it unambiguous which display ID associates to which display.

To provide a tool to improve MacFlip, which needs to be more bulletproof in situations where the display starts off rotated or the main display is not the internal/built-in display.

To provide a tool or tools that can be used to create other cool AppleScripts.

Since I know little C and no Cocoa, I spent a lot of time with Apple’s documentation and did a lot of guess and check, but I was able to add an option to fb-rotate (fb-rotate -i) that provides more display information.

In the download below, I’ve included a source file, fb-rotate.c, so that, provided you have Xcode installed, you can follow the directions in the fb-rotateREADME.txt file to compile the new fb-rotate yourself. There is, of course, an executable version as well.

If you move fb-rotate to the desktop, now your terminal session might look like:

~$ cd Desktop 

~/Desktop$ ./fb-rotate -i

#  Display ID  Resolution ____Display Bounds____  Rotation

0  0x19156030  1280x800      0     0  1280   800     0    [main][internal]

1  0x76405c2d  1280x960   1280    32  2560   992     0    

Mouse Cursor Position: (  2538 ,   969 )

In addition, the download contains two additional tools:

geo-displays, which provides just the display information without the display rotation functions.

mouse-location, which just outputs the mouse cursor location.

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 Permalink Reply by Michel of dev.xiligroup on April 4, 2010 at 11:35pm

Thanks for this release... Please fin below the result and some column's shifts when resolutions are less then 1000:

Michel-MBP216:fb-rotate michel$ ./fb-rotate -l

Display ID Resolution

0x4271800 1440x900 [main display]

0xb413ab5 1920x1200

Michel-MBP216:fb-rotate michel$ ./fb-rotate -i

# Display_ID Resolution ____Display_Bounds____ Rotation

0 0x4271800 1440x900 0 0 1440 900 0 [main][internal]

1 0xb413ab5 1920x1200 -480 -1200 1440 0 0

Mouse Cursor Position: ( 916 , 686 )

Michel-MBP216:fb-rotate michel$ ./fb-rotate -i

# Display_ID Resolution ____Display_Bounds____ Rotation

1 0xb413ab5 1920x1200 0 0 1920 1200 0 [main]

0 0x4271800 1440x900 480 1200 1920 2100 0 [internal]

Mouse Cursor Position: ( 1191 , 1839 )

Michel-MBP216:fb-rotate michel$ ./fb-rotate -d 0xb413ab5 -r 90

Michel-MBP216:fb-rotate michel$ ./fb-rotate -i

# Display_ID Resolution ____Display_Bounds____ Rotation

1 0xb413ab5 1200x1920 0 0 1200 1920 90 [main]

0 0x4271800 1440x900 1200 1200 2640 2100 0 [internal]

Mouse Cursor Position: ( 1536 , 1819 )

(note here in blog font is not fixed width)

Best regards

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Reply by EricN on April 5, 2010 at 8:33am

Oops! I made the adjustment, the fb-rotate below correctly lines up the columns:

Download: [Improved version]

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#3 [url]

Apr 21 10 8:49 AM

Original Reply by Tom J. Byrne on March 5, 2010 at 10:56pm


Thanks for developing this app. I placed the the sms utility in the utilities folder. Restarted the modbook, launched the macflip application and yes the screen orientation changes but the proportions are strange and half the screen is composed of yellow, red & blue wavy lines. Can you suggest solution. I'm using Leopard OSX 10.5.8


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Reply by EricN on March 6, 2010 at 3:32pm

I'm hoping that the weird distorted displays are only for the two portrait views, and the 180º display looks fine and is fully functional. Unfortunately, distorted portrait views are normal for non-NVIDIA modbooks. As I understand it, Apple does not see it as worth its while to write a screen rotation driver for an internal notebook screen. Hence, those of us with Intel graphics Modbooks are stuck with useless portrait screens — it sounds like my portrait screen is slightly more useable than yours. Apparently, on better graphics chip sets, such as NVIDIA, the screen rotation comes for free, so Apple doesn't have to do anything to make it work.

For those of us with pre-NVIDIA Modbooks, I've built a script for Skim, an excellent PDF reader, which offers some of the functionality of MacFlip. It is available at this forum post. I'm in the process of adding the ability to turn pages by tilting the tablet.

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 Reply by Tom J. Byrne on March 6, 2010 at 6:11pm

Hello Eric

I don't know what chipset i am using. It's a two year old macbook converted to an up to the minute modbook (I assume).

Yes you are right about the 180 view. That's working fine.

I believe that there was a screen rotation option on OS10.4

Would it be worth my while to create a partition on my HD & istall the older OSX. Don't know if that is even possible but might it be a solution?



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 Reply by EricN on March 7, 2010 at 4:30pm

You can determine your graphics chip set using System Profiler (in /Applications/Utilities). Look under "Graphics/Displays".

I can't say whether display rotation might work better if you downgrade to Tiger. Apple is known for keeping its OS as clean as possible — eliminating anything they think is unnecessary. Nonetheless, it seems like a long shot, but, if you try it, let us know what happens.

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Reply by Tom J. Byrne on March 8, 2010 at 3:40am

Send Message

Hi Eric

I checked and found sometihing disturbing. Chipset Model: GMA X3100

Type: Display

Bus: Built-In

VRAM (Total): 144 MB

Vendor: Intel (0x8086)

Device ID: 0x2a02

Revision ID: 0x0003



Resolution: 1280 x 800

Depth: 32-Bit Color

Core Image: Hardware Accelerated

Main Display: Yes

Mirror: Off

Online: Yes

Quartz Extreme: Supported

Built-In: Yes

Display Connector:

Status: No Display Connected

Apparently I am not using the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M Graphics Chipset which I was assured in October that I would receive with the Modbook.

Could I be misreading the specs in the system profiler?


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 Reply by EricN on March 8, 2010 at 1:04pm

You are interpreting correctly. I 'm sorry to hear that they may have misinformed you, but an Intel Graphics chip set is what I would expect of a two year old MacBook converted to a Modbook since they do not alter the motherboard when they build a Modbook.

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 Permalink Reply by Tom J. Byrne on March 8, 2010 at 1:31pm

Hi Eric.

This is a copy of the email that they sent me. I think it's pretty clear that they either deliberately misdirected me or they haven't got a clue.


Date: Monday, October 26, 2009, 4:58 PM

Hi Tom,

The same Nvidia GeForce 9400 video card would be used on the converted and new Modbook, so there is no difference.

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 Permalink Reply by EricN on March 8, 2010 at 2:31pm

Hmm? I don't know what to think.

Who are these jackasses?

Perhaps, you'll want to confront them with their e-mail before publicly revealing who they are, but I think other potential Modbook buyers might want to know.

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 Reply by Tom J. Byrne on March 8, 2010 at 3:00pm

Yes, it's a biggy. I'm trying to work something out with them at the moment but am getting the brush off. Will let you know how it turns out but the whole process of getting the conversion was very, very messy.



 Reply by Tom J. Byrne on March 16, 2010 at 6:00am

Hi Eric

It's a week since I started using the modbook. As I said, I upgraded from a Macbook. I went through OWC, a normally great company, but they made a terrible mess of the process and miscommunicated a great deal regarding what I would receive. They promised that the Nvidia GeForce 9400 video card would be used on the converted Modbook. This isn't true but it was the reason I finally capitulated and bought the conversion. This is further confused by all the misleading advertisments which Axiotron put out.

This is a summary of the things I find about the modbook. It's nearly all negative because I feel short changed and am unhappy with the product and the problems that occured in getting it from OWC.

Although I see it's potential and would prefer to own the machine that I believed I was promised, unfortunately, it doesn't exist.

I've never managed to get the GPS to work in either Ireland or France. I don't think this is just me as I followed the instructions and everything worked except that the GPS could not locate it's position.

The Quickscript V3 is really buggy. Doesn't work with web browsers.

Quickclicks is okay but only comes in QWERTY format.

The calibration between the cursor and the pen is not good enough and disorientating. The pressure sensitivity may be something I need to get to know better but it's not impressing me so far. I'm an illustrator so it's important.

It's extremely irritating that the screen does not rotate with the position of the laptop. This is one of the things that Axiotron and OWC assured me would work. It does not and there is no known solution. Axiotron have done nothing to improve the situation.

It goes to sleep at odd moments and I haven't figured out what's causing this. No information is lost when it happens but the period of time that passes is about 2 minutes.

The biggest problem is in fact the screen rotation. I can live with the rest but that makes working difficult as it means I have to rotate the picture to take advantage of the screen size. Which means I navigate Photoshop more from memory than from the ability to read the menus. Makes working a slow process.

Lack of a keyboard is a problem. Budget in some cash for a new one.

On the good side, it's a clearer screen than the cintiq.

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 Permalink Reply by EricN on March 16, 2010 at 6:53pm


I'm saddened to hear that the culprit is OWC. I bought my Modbook from them with no issues. I did have a problem with the start up switch, I think, a couple months after I received it and they had me send it in, post paid, and I had it back less than a week later fixed. I gather, however, they are not making things right for you.

As I understand it, you were mislead. So you have a right to be furious. Moreover, from your post it sounds like a Modbook may not serve your needs. Indeed, for a studio illustrator, a large Cintiq would be a better choice, it's bigger, got better pressure sensitively, extra buttons, (though I'm not sure accuracy is much better). Nonetheless, the Modbook is probably the best mobile solution for artists on either Windows or the Mac. If you want a mobile sketch pad, I'd encourage you to look again at the Modbook, possibly using Windows 7 where screen rotation does work (but pressure sensitivity is an issue).

I was a Modbook early adopter, and initially, I and quite a few others were pretty disappointed in the Modbook. Despite having working prototypes for better than a year before starting to ship, Axiotron, month or so after delivering the first Modbooks to customers, "discovered" that the Bluetooth and display rotation do not work. People were pissed. Myself, I had to learn to do things differently. My precious keyboard shortcuts were gone. Everything was slower on a Modbook. Over time, I discovered Quicksilver and Abracadabra, found better ways to use InkBook, and bit by bit I learned to really like my Modbook. I can't do on a Macbook the sort of things I use my Modbook for.

That said, your complaints are largely valid. Wacom has royally screwed up the calibration. I had to build a display rotation solution because it is clear that Axiotron is not going to do anything. Quickscript, while good at handwriting recognition, is an appallingly bad and buggy piece of software. (Nonetheless, it allowed me to write this post quickly and without problem.) My GPS requires a wide open location in order to work. Despite these issues, my Modbook provides great note taking, sketching and e-reading where ever I go.

I hope that OWC offers you some sort of accommodation, and if you choose to keep your Modbook, they fix your sleep problem. Good Luck.

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 Reply by Tom J. Byrne on March 21, 2010 at 11:27am

Judging from the response I've had so far, I'm going to need luck. Yes, the pressure sensitivity leads a lot to be desired. I'm going to write to complain officially to the head of the OWC company as the client service person is just doing his job and brushing me off. If I get no response I'll post the complaint online for all to see. It's not going to do me any good but it might stop others making the same mistake.

I had a feeling I was making a mistake in buying this but the advertising and the assurances from OWC assuaged my fears. I should have listened to my instincts.

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 Reply by Tom J. Byrne on March 21, 2010 at 11:30am

Thanks for your feedback and attempts to help the situation.

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#4 [url]

Apr 21 10 8:52 AM

Original Reply by JC on March 21, 2010 at 7:43am

this is the greatest thing i've ever discovered. thank you thank you. now that Kindle for Mac app is TOTALLY WORTH the free download. :)

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#5 [url]

Apr 21 10 8:54 AM

Original Reply by ajax xu on April 2, 2010 at 9:21am

that's great app for modbook! but some time we need manually set window fullscreen.
here is a good app that could automatic set full screen by simply drag it into task bar. also it can set left or right half screen.
click below to download

hope u like it

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#6 [url]

Apr 21 10 10:54 AM

Original Reply by ajax xu on April 2, 2010 at 9:58am

▶ Reply to This

Reply by ajax xu on April 2, 2010 at 10:00am

sorry for my poor screen shot.... :p

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#7 [url]

Apr 21 10 3:54 PM

Original Reply by EricN on April 2, 2010 at 11:12am

I've played with Cinch. It is very cool app, but it crashes my whole system after about an hour of use. Yesterday, they announced a fix. We'll see. So far, it is holding. Nonetheless, it does not deal with display rotation correctly. I should file a bug, and so should you if you like Cinch.

You are not the only one who has requested an automatic "full screen" app. So I've played with that too, but I don't think much of the effect.

I'll upload the results of that effort. See what you think. These are scripts in process, so there may be bugs, and they do not work with all applications.

Download: MaximizeFrontWin.scpt 

Download: ZoomFrontWin.scpt

Click here to view the attachment
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#9 [url]

Nov 8 10 5:53 AM

[Note that MacFlip will not work in the eleven or thirteen inch MacBook Airs of October 2010 since neither notebook has a sudden motion sensor.]


I loved to learn about your app because I would very much like to use my MacBook Air as an iPad substitute: REading and surfing on the sofa with the display turned by 90°. 
But unfortunately, the Air does not have a hard drive and thus has no accelerometer.
Is there a way to launch your script manually?

:-) Dirk

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#10 [url]

Nov 8 10 6:48 AM

Ooops - I just found the answer myself: fb-rotate can do exactly the same thing. :-)
Now I am just looking for a tool to rotate the mouse orientation as well.

Thank you for the tool!

:-) Dirk

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#11 [url]

Nov 8 10 5:57 PM

Now I am just looking for a tool to rotate the mouse orientation as well.:-) Dirk


I'm guessing you mean rotate the trackpad orientation since the display rotations seem to work with mice. I, also, have been looking for a way to reorient a MacBook trackpad to match display orientation.

A recent hint on Mac 05 X Hints may provide a solution for those with the new-fangled touch-enabled trackpads on their MacBook (Unfortunately, I can't test this solution). The hint is for the "Magic Trackpad", but it is reasonable to imagine it working on newer MacBook trackpads.

Entering the following in Terminal: 

defaults write TrackpadOrientationMode 1

(you will be asked for your admin password) and then restarting to computer, tells the trackpad to orient the pad in accord with finger placement.

"Just rest 5 fingers on the Magic Trackpad after turning it around and the cursor will thereafter move in the desired direction."

If it works, let us know.

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#13 [url]

Dec 11 11 8:52 AM

Hope some of you could give a help.
I tried to install Macflip... My screen display went worse and worse... I had to hold the button to shut it down and now I have a grey screen.
Is there any possibility to access again my desktop?
Many many thanks in advance.

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#14 [url]

Mar 2 12 2:07 AM

People who moan about playback... Shut the fuck up, you get up there and do that. You dance your ass off and jump around and sing live, i guarantee you'd sound like a flop. reviews
Online Store Website

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