Fixing Overscan Issues for the Mac Mini Mediacenter

I have been running a Mac Mini (Core Duo 1.66) as a media center since I got it at RailsConf last June. Following advice from a friend I invested in a DVI to HDMI cable to hook it up to our Sony LCD TV. This actually improved the image quality noticeably.

However, like everyone else using the same setup I was annoyed with the overscan issue. Overscan makes the OS X menu bar fall outside of the visible area of the screen. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to fix this in OS X.

Fortunately, with the help from DisplayConfigX it is possible to add a custom resolution that will allow you to have the picture fill the entire screen. It isn’t obvious how to do this, but after some digging around using the HTPC search engine I found bits and pieces of information to help me configure it properly.

So, here are my settings with the hope that it can help others that have hooked up their Mac Mini with a Sony KDL-S32A11E widescreen LCD television.

Correcting Overscan with DisplayConfigX

The key is to configure a custom resolution where the front and back porch values are modified to make sure the entire image fits inside the visible area of the screen. However, the total value for lines and pixels can not change. If the total value change the TV will not display an image. This means that you will have to adjust the “Active” values to accomodate for any changes you did to the front and back porch values.

Here are my settings:

display resolution to correct overscan issue

To clarify the meaning of the front and back porch check this image:
Horizontal and vertical porch. Back porch is top/left. Front porch is bottom/right.

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  • Wterboy

    At last! Thank you thank you thank you! I thought I would never find a way to see all of Front Row when playing music.

  • Femi Adeyemi

    Thank you very much. It works!

  • Dyldev

    Thanks! I have been looking for tis for a long time. Strange that Apple doesn’t include a settings panel for this in OS X.

  • BHill

    Thank you very much for all the info….very helpful. I have a Sony LCD projection TV KF42we610 that I am trying to figure out the timing settings, but no luck so far. I am pretty close with about a 3/4″ black on the right, and 1″ missing on the left. The vertical is perfect. Do you have any suggestions for getting it right?

  • andreas849

    Does this mean that your overscan now is off?

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  • Jim

    Thanks very much works perfectly, Vertical front and back porch were perfect had to change horizontal front porch to 184 and the back porch to 168.

    thanks again

    jim

  • http://panhandlepatriot.com abbie

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2998
    This support article fixed my issue.

    Open System Preferences on the Mac.
    Select the Displays pane.
    Click the Options tab.
    Deselect the Overscan checkbox.

  • Richard

    Great,

    finally, after years of trying, it works. Thanx for helping.

  • Rasmus Linnet

    FIX: Panasonic PX50 X10 Y

    …Hi

    I’ve had a lot of problems fixing this overscan issue.
    Turn out that after spending hours with DisplayConfigX, I found a setting in my Panasonic PX50 X10 Y to disable overscan.
    Now it works like a charm in both 720p & 1080.

    Might be worthwhile checking this out…

  • Moten

    Hi If you have a Sony tv., Like mine 40W4500 star up your mac mini, and in the TV menu under settings find screen settings, there you will find display size, set this to full pixel.
    and on your mac leave overscan on.
    this fixed it for me atleast., without the use of any external programs.,.

  • Nick

    Hi Moten what is the effect changing the display to full pixel on the television reception, and other (non-computer) inputs?

  • Shayne

    Thanks Moten, worked perfect!

  • Christine

    Moten – thank you for the Sony tip, worked a treat!

  • Herb

    Moten – You rock! My new Sony 46 inch LCD is now perfect. I will tell anyone reading this, that this is a Sony only setting. The mini I have on my Sharp is still jacked up. Off to play w/Display ConfigX for that one.

  • http://hankroberts.wordpress.com Hank Roberts

    Weird. Never had problems with this for 2 months since I bought an AOC V22+ to use with my Mac Mini (Intel 2ghz). Suddenly today it’s very confused.

    With overscan “off” my screen has a black blank edge about an inch wide, the display is smaller and all the fonts are fuzzy.

    With overscan “on” everything looks right for a while. Then I’ll open a new window in Firefox and it’s cropped at all the edges, or I’ll boot and find the status and menu bar and dock disappeared off the edge of the screen.

    Then I turn Overscan “off” and everything’s fine for a while. Then for no reason suddenly I’m back to the black unused space around the edge and all the fonts are fuzzy again.

    It may be connected to viewing a Quicktime video somehow changing what happens later.

    It seems to be a scissors-paper-rock where each time it happens, changing the Overscan setting to the other way fixes it for a while.

    It also may be related to whether or not the USB cable is plugged in (which makes the webcam work but I strongly suspect is involved since I just got the webcam working before this started).

    OSX 10.6.2, Firefox 3.6, and 3.6.1, and 3.6.2
    AOC V22+ monitor
    HDMI connector
    USB connector
    speaker connector
    Mac Mini Intel 2ghz

    I’m still trying to just get the color calibration working — I have to set the monitor to zero brightness to get the targets in Apple’s color config to come even close to correct, anything brighter puts some of the sliders off scale, and adds lots of purple, though that got somewhat better after 10.6.2 came out, and I know lots of others had reported that issue.

    This one with the overscan, though, I don’t find anywhere.
    Lots of people stumble over it once. But having it keep coming back, I dunno.

    Pulling the USB cable to see if that ends it.

  • Ben

    A big thanks to Moten! I have a 46 LCD Sony, z series and did your solution and it work like a charm finally! I should have google that problem sooner, instead of 10 months later :)

  • Eye Em

    Took a lot of fiddling, but I finally got good timings for my Mac Mini to drive my Panasonic TH-50PX60U in 720p and 1080i without the annoying overscan. Here they are for the benefit of others! – IM

    * 720p Timings *
    Horizontal
    Active 1248
    Front Porch 120
    Sync 80
    Back Porch 200 (1648?)

    Total 1648

    Vertical
    Active 698
    Front porch 18
    Sync 5
    Back porch 31
    Refresh rate 59.945

    * 1080i Timings *
    Horizontal
    Active 1888
    Front Porch 104
    Sync 48
    Back porch 160

    Vertical
    Active 1054
    Front porch 14
    Sync 10
    Back porch 46
    Pixel Frequency 74.250

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