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I have a plasma TV attached to my Mac Pro. I use it maybe once a week, to watch movies. Rest of the time it just stays connected to my Mac. The problem is that Spaces in bird eye’s view always displays a box for the plasma, which makes my main display’s box too small.

Is there a way to disable the secondary display without actually unplugging it?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Sorry this happens to be a year later, but I was just looking for a way to disable my secondary display and came across SwitchResX. It has a taskbar menu item to quickly disable any connected monitors.

I'm not sure if this will solve your Spaces issue, but it might be worth a try.

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Ooops. I have found this SwitchResX some time ago and already have forgotten about my question here on SuperUser. Thanks for your answer. SwitchResX indeed is the solution that works. – Ilya Birman Aug 20 '10 at 8:05
As of today, this is now a commercial product invalidating the answer. – leye0 Feb 19 '14 at 3:33

Since SwitchResX is not free, I have developed a simple free alternative, that allows you to turn off a specific Monitor.

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Is there a 10.8-compatible app for this? – J.B. Jul 15 '14 at 20:04
I'am not sure if it works on 10.8 just try it out. Tell me if it works for you. – Eun Jul 16 '14 at 7:11
The system tells me I cannot run the app as it is a 10.9+ app. – J.B. Jul 16 '14 at 22:39
Could you contact me on github? I can try to build it for 10.8. – Eun Jul 17 '14 at 8:38
Ok, I added a new Release for support 10.6+, please try this version. – Eun Jul 17 '14 at 9:05

The only thing I can come up with which worked for me was to turn on mirroring (in the monitor menu in your menu bar, or in the screen preferences pane) and then turn off the secondary display. Spaces will then only show one display.

When you want it back (for watching movies, etc.), turn on the display and turn off mirroring.

This solution feels very kludgy to me, so I'm hoping there's a better answer (like 3rd-party software or a hidden pref which can be set via Terminal). But it should suffice for the short term.

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My main display is 2560 at 1600, while plasma is 1920 at 1440, so if I enable mirroring, it will use the lowest for both. So this one does not work for me, unfortunately. – Ilya Birman Aug 22 '09 at 5:23
I haven't tried this one yet, but does just turning off the plasma work? – John Rudy Aug 22 '09 at 16:11
It does not, for me at least. – Ilya Birman Aug 23 '09 at 8:10
I'll keep an eye out for software that might be able to take care of this, but if no one else has an answer at this stage, I'm fearing we might be at the end of the rope on this one. :( – John Rudy Aug 24 '09 at 1:01

disconnect the second display and then click "detect displays" that did for me

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That will work, but it doesn't answer the question. The questioner is looking for a solution "without actually unplugging it". Since it's a Mac Pro, the external display connector is likely not very accessible. – Doug Harris Aug 19 '10 at 18:48

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