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How to rotate the display on macOS

Most monitors are landscape oriented i.e., they’re wider than they are tall. That’s how in-built displays are oriented on laptops. If you have a Macbook. or you’re using an external display, or you’ve splurged on the new Apple display that can support both orientations, you may be interested to know how you can rotate the display on macOS.

Rotate external display

Open the System Preferences app and go to the Display preference. On the Display tab, you will see a ‘Rotation’ dropdown. Open it and you will see three different angles listed there; 90, 180, and 270. Selecting the 90 degree option will rotate it left, 180 degrees will flip it over, and 270 will rotate it towards the right.

After you select which direction to rotate the display, you will have to confirm that you want to make the change permanent. If you don’t confirm it in time, the display will revert back to its original orientation.

Rotate internal display – Macbook

If you have a Macbook, and you use this same trick to try and rotate the display, you will see that the Rotate option simply doesn’t appear. This might make it seem that the internal display on a Macbook cannot be rotated but that is not the case.

If you have System Preferences app open, close it. Once it’s closed, hold down the Option+Command keys on your keyboard. Left click the System Preferences app in the Dock to open it. Do not release the Option+Command keys.

Once the System Preferences app is open, and you’re still holding down the Option+Command keys, click the Displays preference. This time, the preference for the in-built display on your Macbook will show the Rotation dropdown it showed for the external display. The same rules apply; you can rotate the screen 90, 180, and 270 degrees. 90 will rotate it left, 180 will flip it upside down, and 270 will rotate it right.

As with the external display, you will have to confirm that you want to keep the new orientation within the given time limit. If you don’t confirm it, the display orientation will revert back to normal.

If you’re wondering why the option to rotate the display on a Macbook is hidden, it likely has to do with Apple trying to prevent users from accidentally changing it. There was once a time when you could literally change the display orientation of a Windows PC with a keyboard shortcut and that led to a lot problems for Windows users who accidentally executed the shortcut. Apple is right to think ahead about it.

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