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I'm using a laptop with a relatively large external monitor. About the laptop one I cannot do anything, and it being rather small, nor do I want to, but the external monitor is quite large, and nowadays all of them being almost twice as wide as they're tall, I would like to turn it by 90 degrees.

A lot of my time at work goes to staring at text files, and the vertical dimension is significantly more important than the horizontal one.

Presuming I can rotate and fixate it so it stays in the upright position, what software would I need to use to support that rotated state? It would obviously need to be rather low level since every application in windows would need to be rotated by 90 degrees.

All ideas and any possible experience in doing something like this are welcomed ! :)

My laptop is HP 6715s with an ATI graphics adapter which supposedly supports monitor rotation (as in this first answer's screenshot, but upon rotation and clickling apply nothing happens, and it goes back to normal landscape mode). Have no idea what is up with that :-/

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The ATI graphics adapter's software should have a "rotate" option. After clicking apply, there should be a conformation box, to ensure that the monitor still functions. Make sure to press OK.

If you do not see a conformation box, and your screen goes black, your probably doing something wrong. Post a screenshot of your graphics card settings if this is the case.

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Try holding Cntrl+Shift+LeftArrowKey. – cutrightjm May 22 '12 at 2:45
A screenshot of my graphics card settings - where are those situated? – Rook May 22 '12 at 3:31
I'll post a screenshot of the my ati control center tomorrow (I'm not on that computer right now). – Rook May 22 '12 at 3:31

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