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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

Easing (some of) the pain of GPU switching on my mid-2009 Macbook Pro using Automator

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Member Since: May 14, 2010
Posts: 2
cwintermeyer is on a distinguished road

cwintermeyer is offline
I regularly switch between the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M ("Better battery life") and the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT ("Better graphics performance") on my mid-2009 MBP running OS X 10.6.3. I grew tired of clicking on the Energy Saver Preferences, and occasionally I would forget which GPU I was running until I opened the Preferences panel. After an unsuccessful search for a solution similar to the gfxCardStatus solution (gfxCardStatus: menu bar gpu status monitor for os x / cody krieger - mobile, desktop & web developer) for the new 2010 dual-GPU MBP line, I came up with my own GPU-for-dummies approach using Automator.

My solution uses two Automator apps to switch to the desired GPU. The apps (named "GPU-9400" and "GPU-9600") are in my Applications folder so I can access them easily. In addition to choosing the appropriate GPU with a simple click, the app also renames itself on the fly. This way, when I log back in after a GPU switch, I have a visual indication which GPU is currently in use. For example, when I click on the "GPU-9600" app, Automator will rename it to "GPU-9600 *ACTIVE*". If I then later click on "GPU-9400", Automator will rename it "GPU-9400 *ACTIVE*" and will also strip the "*ACTIVE*" from the GPU-9600 app name. There's a partial screenshot of my Applications menu at that explains it better than I can.

If you'd like to give it a try, here's what you need to do:
1. Download the ZIP file from shortcut to switch to 9600M graphics card? - Mac Forums, and unzip the two apps into your Applications folder. (I would have uploaded the file here but I'm a newbie here so I'm limited to 1MB files... D'oh!)
2. Assign the shortcut COMMAND-OPTION-S to System Preferences. (See Launch System Preferences with a keyboard shortcut | Software | Mac OS X Hints | Macworld if you need help doing this.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: You must use COMMAND-OPTION-S as the shortcut for these apps to function correctly.
3. Close all open applications (since switching your GPU is going to require a logout).
4. If you're currently running the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M (i.e. "Better battery life"), click on the "GPU-9600" app. Conversely, if you're currently running the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT (i.e. "Better graphics performance"), click on the "GPU-9400" app.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you click on the app that corresponds to the GPU you're already running, the app will successfully rename itself to indicate the GPU is active, but the app will then error out since it's expecting a logout prompt which obviously won't appear.

I built this for my personal use, so I have only used this on my mid-2009 MBP running OS X 10.6.3. Depending on your hardware and OS version, your mileage may vary. As with all applications, I *STRONGLY* recommend you backup your system before running these apps. The Automator scripts in the apps are simple and won't cause any damage to your system or files if they fail, but safe is always better than sorry. There is no warranty on these apps and they are provided "as-is".

Also, because these are simple Automator apps, you can edit them in Automator if you'd like to tweak the behavior to your needs.

I hope you find this solution useful.

Chris Wintermeyer
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Member Since: May 14, 2010
Posts: 2
cwintermeyer is on a distinguished road

cwintermeyer is offline
MAJOR UPDATE: My Automator apps are obsolete, now that gfxCardStatus v1.7 allows GPU switching on pre-2010 MBP's WITHOUT logout! Woo hoo! It works perfectly on my mid-2009 17" MBP running OS X 10.6.3. Check out gfxCardStatus at gfxCardStatus: menu bar gpu status monitor for os x / cody krieger - mobile, desktop & web developer
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True Bassist

Member Since: Oct 30, 2008
Location: Burgess Hill/UK
Posts: 664
True Bassist is a jewel in the roughTrue Bassist is a jewel in the rough
Mac Specs: MBP/2.53GHz i5/4GB RAM/500GB HDD/15" LED Screen/Intel HD Graphics & NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M

True Bassist is offline
Unfortunately it crashes my late-2008 MBP when I attempt to switch, but it does display the correct card being used. Nice find, hopefully will work with my MBP soon!
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Member Since: Jul 14, 2008
Location: Scotland, UK
Posts: 675
martyp is a jewel in the roughmartyp is a jewel in the rough
Mac Specs: nMP 6-core/32Gb/D700/512Gb: rMBP 15" 2.3GHz/16Gb/512Gb: iPhone 6 128Gb: iPad Air 2 128Gb: NEC PA322U

martyp is offline
Oh wow! +rep on that great find bro!

Works fantastically on my early 2010 MBP between the 9400 and 9600 chips. It does say 'Experimental' but does the job seamlessly - apps remain open, wallpaper goes to blue and then back to current wallpaper. Sick!
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