Monitor Resolution

I need a reliable way to determine the desktop size in order to drop an item at specific coordinates. I can’t find any hooks at all.

Try something like this, ddoscher. (May give spurious results with more than one monitor).

tell application "Finder" to set desktop_size to items -2 thru end of (get bounds of desktop's window)

an alternative way to determine the size of first and second monitor could be:

set myResolution to (do shell script "system_profiler SPDisplaysDataType | grep Resolution | awk '{print $2, $4}'")

result looks like this with two monitors connected:
“1152 768
1024 768”

And if you want to know the location the second screen origin with respect to the first, see this Code Exchange item which will also return a bunch of other data about the screens

One more method, just for good measure (primary monitor):

tell application "System Events" to tell property list item 1 of property list item 1 of property list item "DisplaySets" of property list file "/Library/Preferences/" to set screen_size to {(value of property list item "Width") div 1, (value of property list item "Height") div 1}

(In terms of speed, however, the Finder approach tops anything else.)

Can you position items on the desktop in Tiger?

Sure, kel (within certain bounds):

tell application "Finder" to set desktop position of (make new folder with properties {name:"test folder"}) to {40, 50}

Hi Kai,

Thanks for the info.


Hi Adam,

your code did not succeed with my configuration:

OS X 10.4.4/AppleScript 1.10.3
Language: German
2 Screens connected (Powerbook internal 1152 x 768 + external 1024 x 768)

Error message (translated to english):

AppleScript Error

žword 33 of “OriginX = 0; OriginY = 0; – OriginX = -1024; OriginY = 57; Height = 768; Height = 768; Width = 1152; Width = 1024; DisplayLayoutToRight = 0; tilesize = 18;”" could not be read.


Oof. What does this return on your system?

words of (do shell script "echo `defaults read /Library/Preferences/ | grep -wA 1 -m 2 OriginX``defaults read /Library/Preferences/ | grep -w -m 2 Height``defaults read /Library/Preferences/ | grep -w -m 2 Width``defaults read /Library/Preferences/ | grep   DisplayLayoutToRight``defaults read | grep  orientation``defaults read | grep tilesize`")

Hi Adam,

I found out: my had no key “orientation”
My Dock is - and was always - on the bottom of the page. After switching the position to ‘left’ and back to ‘bottom’ your script ran without an error. My guess: The key is only created after a first position change.

But there might be an other little problem with the script:
After my external monitor is disconnected and ‘System Preferences’ → ‘Monitors’ is updated, the script still reports my external screen. Maybe the defaults are only updated with a reboot?

I played a little with your code and made an attempt to simplify the shell part a little …
try this and tell me what you think - do you think it could work? I am not yet 100% sure about the order of those keys:

set olddelims to AppleScript's text item delimiters
set AppleScript's text item delimiters to space 
-- I could not use every word of ... since this produces an error with negative values (it made '1024' of '-1024' (X-position of my external screen) 

set details_new to every text item of (do shell script "echo `defaults read /Library/Preferences/ | grep -w -m9 --regexp={DisplayLayoutToRight,OriginX,OriginY,Height,Width} | awk '{print $3}' | tr \";\" \" \"` `defaults read orientation` `defaults read tilesize`")

set AppleScript's text item delimiters to olddelims