06 Dec 2006

Hacking Fullscreen without Quicktime Pro

As mentioned in this article at TUAW, the fullscreen behavior of applications such as QuickTime, DVD Player, and iTunes is determined by the preferences in the Quicktime Player application. If you have two monitors, and you want fullscreen video to show up on the secondary monitor, you must change the preferences in QuickTime. However, if you do not have QuickTime Pro, you cannot access these preferences through the application. This article describes how to enable fullscreen in QuickTime (the non-Pro version) and how to manipulate some of these preferences to determine which monitor the output is on.

Enable Fullscreen: This tip comes from Macworld. The easiest way to get fullscreen in QuickTime without buying the Pro version is with a simple AppleScript. Open up Script Editor, located at /Applications/AppleScript/Script Editor.app, and copy and paste these next few lines into a new script.

tell application "QuickTime Player" present front movie scale screen end tell

Script Editor

Save the script as an application (File Format: application), and put it in your applications folder. Now, whenever you are watching a movie in QuickTime, simply run this application to have the movie appear fullscreen.

Fullscreen Preferences: First, find your Quicktime Player preferences file. It is located in the Library/Preferences directory of your home folder, and it is called com.apple.quicktimeplayer.plist. The .plist extension may or may not show up in the Finder. Then, open it using Apple's Property List Editor. To do this, you must have the developer tools installed. If you do not have the developer tools installed, you can edit this file with a simple text editor, such as TextEdit, but be careful of what you change!

Property List Editor

Here we notice, after expanding the root node, that there are a number of preferences with the prefix "Fullscreen." These preferences are not available through the GUI to users without Quicktime Pro. The preference we are most interested in is FullscreenPreferenceScreenNumber. This may have a very large value, but you should be able to change it to 1 or 2 to enable either your main or auxiliary monitor. Those on a text editor, change the value between the <integer> and </integer> tags under the line <key>FullscreenPreferenceScreenNumber</key>. Save the file, and reopen QuickTime.

This step is important: Drag the movie window to the monitor on which you want it to play in fullscreen. Then run the fullscreen script. If the monitor on which the movie is played in fullscreen is not the right one, try running the script a few more times. If this doesn't work, you can try experimenting with the value of the preference. Each time you change it, you must reopen QuickTime. If anything does go horribly wrong, just delete the preference file and QuickTime will make a new one for you the next time it is opened.

There are other preferences that can be experimented with:

  • FullscreenPreferenceEnableHUD - determines whether the movie controls show up in Fullscreen
  • FullscreenPreferenceHUDFadeOutTime - determines how long before the movie controls fade out
  • FullscreenPreferenceCaptureAllDisplays - determines whether the background color (usually black) is displayed on every display

Feel free to experiment with the other preferences. Always make sure to restart QuickTime Player after any changes are made, and if anything goes wrong, just delete the preference file. I cannot be held responsible if you manage to irreversibly alter your system (but I can't imagine an instance in which that would happen).