Depth Charge

Copyright John Burwell 1998, 2002.


What is Depth Charge?
What is Depth Charge for?
What’s all this in the folder?
What are the system requirements?
How did you use these with MkLinux?
What might go wrong?
I get an error message…
Licensing and disclaimer

What is Depth Charge?

Depth Charge is a set of three simple AppleScript applications that change the primary monitor’s bit depth. They’re handy when you need the monitor to change settings automatically, as in other scripts, or with the Location Manager.

What is Depth Charge for?

You can use it for whatever you want. Its functionality may be somewhat limited on more modern machines, but if you have an older machine that needs automated bit depth switching, then you can use these scripts directly, or use them in your own AppleScript programs.

When I wrote these, MkLinux didn’t support bit-depths higher than 8 on PCI PowerMacs with ATI video, which included all Power Computing machines. Quite simply, I got tired of having to remember to switch my monitor’s bit-depth from the Thousands setting I used on the MacOS side to the 256 Colors setting MkLinux requires.

After contemplating rewriting the MkLinux booter, I decided it would be easier to create some AppleScript apps and put them in my Startup Items and Shutdown Items folders.

What’s all this in the folder?

Depth Charge – 256 Colors
This applet sets your primary monitor to 8-bit mode, which displays 256 colors.

Depth Charge – Thousands
This one changes your primary monitor to 16-bit mode, which displays Thousands of colors.

Depth Charge – Millions
This one changes your primary monitor to 32-bit mode, which displays Millions of colors.

What are the system requirements?

These scripts assume that you have AppleScript installed, obviously. They also use the MonitorDepth Scripting Addition, which comes with the latest versions of AppleScript.

It’s really swank feature requires that you be running System 7.6.1 or greater, since it specifically looks for the Monitors and Sound control panel in the event something goes awry. But if you don’t have a Monitors & Sound control panel, don’t worry. If you have AppleScript installed, you should be in good shape.

How did you use these with MkLinux?

Step 1: Put Depth Charge – 256 Colors into your Shutdown Items folder, inside your System Folder.
If all you want to do is make sure you’re in 8-bit mode before you go to MkLinux, then this is all you need to do. But if you like to have your monitor switch back to showing more colors when you use MacOS, then:

Step 2: Put the appropriate Depth Charge for your configuration in your Startup Items folder. If you want to use Thousands of colors, use Depth Charge – Thousands. If you want to use Millions of colors, use Depth Charge – Millions.

And that’s it. When your computer shuts down or reboots, it will switch to 256 colors, and the next time you boot into MacOS it will be switched back to where you want it. Cool, eh?

What might go wrong?

If your Mac crashes, and you force a restart, Shutdown Items will obviously not be executed and your monitor will keep its bit-depth settings. If you then boot into MkLinux instead of MacOS, your screen will be wacked out. You’ll have to fix it manually using the Monitors control panel.

I get an error message: ‘The color depth could not be changed. Try reducing the resolution in the Monitors & Sound control panel.’ What’s all this about? What should I do? How do I avoid this error?

The only reason you should encounter this error is if you try to go to a color depth that your monitor does not support at the current resolution.

If you click “Continue,” the dialog box will disappear and the shutdown (or startup) will continue as usual without changing your monitor’s bit depth.

If you click “Go to Monitors & Sound,” the Monitors & Sound control panel will open and allow you to reduce your monitor’s resolution until it can support your desired bit depth. Note: This will cancel a Shutdown in progress. When you’ve made your changes, you’ll have to select Shutdown or Restart from the Special menu to proceed again.

If you want to avoid this error in the future, try leaving your monitor at a lower resolution or using a different version of Depth Charge.

Help! General chaos!

E-mail for any other assistance.

Licensing and stuff

You may do with this software whatever you like, at no cost.

Disclaimer: I’m not going to say that my scripts will always work or that they won’t break your machine. Furthermore, I won’t be held responsible for any damage at all that arises out of the use of my product. I present it to you completely as-is, without any warranty as to its accuracy or suitability for a particular purpose or anything like that. You use this stuff entirely at your own risk, just like everything else in the world. So don’t come crying to me when it all goes to hell.