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Álvaro Ramírez

05 December 2020 Emacs: Rotate my macOS display

Every so often, I rotate my monitor (vertical vs horizontal) for either work or to watch a movie. macOS enables changing the display rotation via a dropdown menu (under Preferences > Displays > Rotation) where you can pick between Standard, 90°, 180°, and 270°. That's all fine, but what I'd really like is a quick way to toggle between my preferred two choices: Standard and 270°.

Unsurprisingly, I'd also like to invoke it as an interactive command via Emacs's M-x (see Emacs: connect my Bluetooth speaker). With narrowing frameworks like ivy, helm, and ido, invoking these commands is just a breeze.

Turns out, this was pretty simple to accomplish, thanks to Eric Nitardy's fb-rotate command line utility. All that's left to do is wrap it in a tiny elisp function hack, add the toggling logic, and voilà!


The screen capture goes a little funky when rotating the display, but you get the idea. It works better in person :)

…and here's the snippet:

(defun ar/display-toggle-rotation ()
  (require 'cl-lib)
  (cl-assert (executable-find "fb-rotate") nil
             "Install fb-rotate from")
  ;; #  Display_ID    Resolution  ____Display_Bounds____  Rotation
  ;; 2  0x2b347692    1440x2560      0     0  1440  2560    270    [main]
  ;; From fb-rotate output, get the `current-rotation' from Column 7, row 1 zero-based.
  (let ((current-rotation (nth 7 (split-string (nth 1 (process-lines "fb-rotate" "-i"))))))
    (call-process-shell-command (format "fb-rotate -d 1 -r %s"
                                        (if (equal current-rotation "270")