Multiple Monitor Issues with OS X 10.9 (“Mavericks”)

OS X 10.9 (“Mavericks”) has been released today and is a free update.

But multiple monitor users should hold off – OS X 10.9 appears to break many multiple monitor setups.

At least 4 distinct issues with external displays have been duplicated on the “Golden Master” developer seed OS X 10.9. There are no known workarounds or resolutions available at this time:

  1. HDMI displays cause unexpected mirroring
  2. Display Preferences lost on reboot or hot plug
  3. A significant performance drop from 10.8.5 on USB attached displays
  4. Window server crashes

We have already created a bug report with Apple on the first issue, HDMI displays causing unexpected mirroring. However, Apple has not yet responded to it. In an effort to get more traction on this bug, we’ve created an OpenRadar bug report. We need your help to gather more information. Please leave a comment on the OpenRadar bug report with your system information and any relevant setup details.

HDMI displays cause unexpected mirroring
Apple does not make bug reports submitted to them visible to others, so we are showing that report here. Apple has not yet responded to it. This bug affects DisplayLink-based hardware (like ours), along with other HDMI setups using non-DisplayLink hardware. Because this bug report was based on testing with 10.9 preview releases, the behavior might be better or different in the final OS X 10.8 final release version.

Submitted Apple Bug Report: HDMI displays create mirror issues under 10.9 GM seed

When attaching additional displays beyond a single primary display, HDMI attached displays will override a user’s display preferences (resolution and arrangement of additional displays).

This has been tested and reproduced using both USB to HDMI adapters, Thunderbolt to HDMI adapters, and the HDMI output built-in to a current gen USB 3.0 Mini.

When using a HDMI to DVI adapter (Apple branded or 3rd party), the issue is not reproduced: the error seems to be triggered specifically by HDMI (regardless of whether the HDMI is a built-in port, a Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter or cable, or a USB to HDMI adapter.

To be clear, I AM able to use a mix of DVI or VGA attached displays without hitting this issue: the issue only occurs when attempting to add an HDMI display.

After manually disabling mirroring and arranging the displays, they will work normally- however the issue will recur on reboot and typically whenever the HDMI display is re-attached. In the case of the Thunderbolt to HDMI cable or adapter or a USB to HDMI adapter (DisplayLink 2.0 and 3.0 based), a reboot or hotplug event will “break” the non-mirrored display arrangement—although anything other than “deep” sleep does NOT. That is to say display arrangement is retained until the system reboots or enters deep sleep, or on hot-plug events.

Please note that similar issues were seen on earlier 10.9 builds, however these actually got worse on the GM seed pushed 10/7/13.

Steps to Reproduce:
1. Use a normally working 10.9 Mavericks system with built-in Thunderbolt and HDMI display outputs.
2. Attach any HDMI display via built-in HDMI port, USB to HDMI display adapter, or Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter/cable.
3. Observe that HDMI display comes up in mirror mode rather than as an extended display.
4. Disable display mirroring, arrange displays to match physical locations.
5. Reboot system: observe that display preferences are lost.

6. Repeat, substituting a DVI or VGA connection to the same HDMI display. Observe that mirror mode issue is not encountered, and that display preferences are retained up on reboot.

Expected Results:
Displays should come up in “extended” mode, regardless of how they are attached.

Actual Results:
In my testing on 3 Mavericks systems, any HDMI display comes up in mirror mode, and causes display preferences to be lost on reboot (and various other conditions previously mentioned).

Version:
OS X 10.9 (13A598)

Submitter:
Jeff Everett (support@plugable.com)

Display Preferences Lost on Reboot or Hotplug
Distinct from the issue where HDMI displays cause unexpected mirror mode configurations, display preferences like monitor arrangement, resolution, and background are almost always lost on reboot and “hotplug” events when USB display adapters are unplugged and then reconnected. This means users may have to re-configure the OS X settings relating to physical arrangement of their multi-display systems on every reboot or every time they have to disconnect/reconnect from their USB display devices.

No or Slow Rendering on USB Attached Displays
An occasional problem when running 2 or more USB attached displays is that the displays won’t update most pixels. Mouse cursor movement is visible, however any updates made by applications onscreen are not visible, leaving the external display unusable.

Window Server Crashes
Although infrequent, the window server can crash. This renders a system unusable as all displays repeatedly go black/blank while the window server restarts.

Investigation is ongoing as to whether these issues are “core” OS issues with 10.9 Mavericks or may be resolved by further updates to DisplayLink’s 2.1 beta driver. At least one issue (with HDMI displays creating unexpected mirroring) appears to be a fundamental OS X issue, as this has been reproduced on a system with no DisplayLink driver installed, using only the HDMI and Thunderbolt ports built into a late 2012 Mac Mini 6,1.

Additional details are available on DisplayLink’s “Known issues with DisplayLink on OS X 10.9 Mavericks” page, as well as in their OS X 2.1 beta driver forum.

64 thoughts on “Multiple Monitor Issues with OS X 10.9 (“Mavericks”)”

  1. I have a similar problem when using a MBP 15″ on Mavericks along with a thunderbolt to HDMI on ASUS 23″ monitor. On reboots of the Mac, I lose recognizable video on all displays. The only way I can get this to work currently, is to power down the Mac, unplug the 2nd monitor, reboot, login, and then plug in the 2nd monitor using HDMI. However, a better workaround that I found is to use Thunderbolt to DVI to the monitor instead of HDMI and then it will boot up properly with multiple displays.

    1. Since I run a MBP mid 2010, I don’t have thunderbolt. But I still have the same issue with the good old display port. In my case, I can’t boot (or more precise: get to the Login Screen) when I have an external monitor attached via DP->DVI. I don’t know if any other combination works.

  2. Yep. My macbook pro used to boot fine with my thunderbolt to HDMI connector running an external Samsung monitor.

    As soon as I updated I can no longer boot with the thunderbolt cable attached. I have to unplug it and reconnect it once it boots up. If I try and boot with the thunderbolt cable in it just gives me a jumbled mess of a screen and locks up. If I unplug the thunderbolt after this has happened the laptop monitor just goes to a grey screen and locks up.

    BTW it has also caused me problems with other external USB devices no longer working i.e. Enttec DMX USB Pro and Enttec DMS USB Pro Mk2 have both stopped working. Arrrgh

    Most annoying.

  3. I have a similar problem but with Apple Thunderbolt display. After 10-20 minutes after boot some visual artefacts appears, monitor ports turned off, and after all that – gray screen and reboot.

    I’ve tried reconnect monitor to other port, restart, but no result. Rollback to 10.8.5 – all working like a charm. It is on rMBP 15 early 2013 OS X 10.8.5.

  4. I’m experiencing an altogether different issue: After opening the Displays preferences pane, I can no longer adjust the resolution of an analog CRT external display even after selecting the “Scaled” option– only one size is listed, and it is the same as the “Best for display” option. So now I have a huge external display that is forced into 3:4 ratio at a small resolution with no way to change it. Lame!

  5. On my 2011 MacBook Pro I installed Mavericks and have an external 24″ monitor connected with Thunderbolt and a second 24″ monitor connected with USB and a Diamond box using DisplayLink. All of my displays are working OK, although the speed of the DisplayLink slowed down by a few X compared to using Mountain Lion.

    1. I have same setup but it didn’t work until I went to DisplayLink site and installed their beta driver for OS 10.9. Now it works, but a little sluggish.

  6. I have had 2 Apple Cinema displays since 2005, and in fact, have used dual, or tri monitors since 1987.. Ever since then Mac OS has always maintained a ‘virtual’ desktop that was as if each monitor was showing one continuous video plane.

    That metaphor, which was an industry first, (and the gold standard) has now been thrown away in Mavericks. Yes you can drag a window from monitor to monitor, but you can’t have a window STRADDLING two video displays.

    It sounds like a ridiculous thing to complain about, but I’ve done a lot of software where 1 window spans all monitors, and thus you can have animation flow from monitor to monitor. It’s also mentally consistent with the real world. If I have a piece of paper straddle two desks, HALF of the paper doesn’t disappear.

    Now 1 window can only exist on 1 monitor.

    Apple has essentially reverted back to pre 1987 technology & work metaphors here.
    A sad day indeed.

    1. You can change back to the pre-Mavericks “Spaces”/Virtual Desktops by un-ticking “Displays have seperate Spaces” in the Mission Control settings.

  7. I have three monitors connected to a Mac Mini (late 2009). Two monitors are connected to the built-in Mini DisplayPort and the Mini-DVI. A third monitor is connected via a Toshiba USB video adapter and uses DisplayLink. The setup works very well under Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.8), albeit the refresh is slightly slower on the USB monitor. Now that I’ve upgraded to the ‘free’ Mavericks the main monitor works OK but the second monitor exhibits strange anomalies. When I drag a window to the second monitor is doesn’t show at all—yet the cursor goes back and forth with no problem! When the screensaver starts the second monitor shows several fractured pieces of windows! It’s a real mess. Not unexpectedly, the USB powered third monitor, which uses DisplayLink, shows nothing whatsoever, nor does the USB third monitor show in the System Prefs Display panel. I want to use the nice new features of Mavericks but I need more than one monitor to be productive. Consequently, I’ll have to go back to using Snow Leopard. I’ve been using multiple monitors on Macs for decades but never encountered such a mess. I sure miss the high level of quality control that Steve Jobs enforced.

  8. Using MacBook Pro (mid 2011) and 2 external monitors, 1 via mini DisplayPort and 2nd connected via a Toshiba USB video adapter and uses DisplayLink. Mine are all on, but the USB connected drags. I love the dock and menus on all 3, will be glad when Apple comes out with a fix.

  9. Same issue. If I unplug the DisplayPort, the spinning wheel stops and the system hangs, if I reboot while the DisplayPort is unplugged, it boots fine, then I can plug in the DisplayPort and it works correctly. I wonder if anyone will talk about this massive screw up “Better multiple display support” my ass.

  10. I just installed OS X Maverick onto my Macbook Pro, and now my laptop’s “Displays” setting does not recognize my Apple Cinema Display. I now have to us my laptop’s monitor because my Cinema Display has become an expensive paper weight for my desk! Thanks, Apple.

  11. If you have a external drive connected to USB or Firewire your machine will not sleep unless you have one of the newer Mac’s (model year 2012 or newer).

  12. Just wanted to add to the conversation.

    I’ve got a USB AOC monitor that was working great under SL, and after the update to Maverick works extremely sluggish. Mouse jumps (but works).

  13. I have a 27″ iMac with a 27″ peripheral thunderbolt monitor, with the upgrade to 10.9 I have lost the use of the peripheral monitor, it powers up but when the normal desktop image shows up on the iMac monitor, the right sided thunderbolt monitor just exhibits a gray blank image, it does however show the menu bar at the top of the screen. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

  14. I have a 2012 Mac Mini with one HMDI to DVI Display, and one Thunderbolt to DVI Display, and Mavericks works fine. I can slide from Mac to PC with the four finger gesture and I actually like it better this way.

    HOWEVER, on my 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, I have a Thunderbolt to VGA adapter and the system will no longer display on Parallels on both monitors anymore. I’ve gotten in two work on either, but no longer both. Very frustrating, as I use this one in the classroom!

    1. I have an iMac 27″ with a 27″ thunderbolt peripheral monitor, that work well with 10.8, switching to 10.9 the Thunderbolt monitor would power up but would remain grayed out, I have this aftermarket program called earth desk which normally would show it’s display on both monitors, but after upgrading to 10.9 the peripheral monitor remained grayed out< I contacted the EarthDesk people. They told men they were working on a fix. yesterday in the morning my outer is set up to turn on at 8am i came in and did some work on the outer, then left it alone for a while
      when i got back on the outer suddenly both monitor were functioning like they did pre 10.9, no clue what changed but now 10.9 with dual monitors seems like it works just fine

  15. Similar here,

    I have two Thunderbolt Displays that I use with a MBP and once they go to sleep only one screen shows on wake. I have to unplug the thunderbolt cable (which I did not used to have to do) and then plug it back in and wait. This usually works except now I have had to unplug my external HD to deal with this issue and only plug it in when I need it.

    On top of that the everything ends up moved out of the position that I previously had it in which was not an issue before either.

    I do like the way the new dual monitor support works and independent multiple desktops as well as being able to get the Dock on the other screen when hovering the area at the bottom, but I wish this worked better than it does. I am hoping for a fix.

    1. Similar issue here… One Thunderbolt Display connected to MBP and once they go to sleep the display is dead until I unplug the power chord and replug it to get it recognised.

      1. I’m having the same issues – except instead of only one screen waking up, one screen gets random lines jumping all over it almost as if the graphics card hasn’t woken up correctly from sleep mode? Have to either put it back into sleep mode and try again, or have to unplug the thunderbolt cable which causes all sorts of errors as i have a Drobo and two external drives (time capsules) attached to the monitors. Urgh. :-)

  16. 2 DELL 2408WFP Displays connected to NVIDIA GeForce GT 120.

    Either display will work fine DVI to DVI on the card. But the second monitor is not detected at all through the DVI to Mini-DVI adapter plugged into the same card.

    Was working fine on 10.8.

  17. I have a 2010 iMac 27″ that is connected to a Samsung 1080p HDTV via a MiniDisplayport to HDMI adapter and an HDMI cable. The Mavericks update has caused intermittent but frequent flickering on the Samsung display when the “Best for Display” settings (1080p @ 60Hz) is selected. Other settings that include 1080i, 720p, 480p, 30Hz or 24Hz don’t flicker, but send a signal that is recognized differently by the TV and also has inferior picture quality. No problems exist under Lion or Mountain Lion, so I currently need to boot into the cloned Mountain Lion volume to use the Samsung display.

  18. I have a Mac Pro Early 2008 with a NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT video card and two displays, a 23” Apple Cinema Display, and a 24” NEC display. Both are connected to the video card via DVI. They show up beautifully at startup, with the Mavericks “Wave” desktop extending across the whole setup. Also like the repeated menus and dock.

    However, after the machine goes to sleep, I can’t wake it up. The ACD “wakes up,” but the NEC remains dark. There is no cursor and the keyboard is unresponsive. I have to do a force shutdown every time. Very annoying. Had I know about this issue I would certainly not have upgraded.

  19. I have an issue with my Macbook Air which has an external monitor (VGA) via thunderbolt attached. I run a mix of applications but generally Chrome and Skype. Twice today during Skype calls the screen of the Macbook has gone blank. Skype call remains live but I cannot control the machine, need to do a hard stop after the call and reboot the machine.

    I have also noticed that WiFi searching and connecting is significantly slower with Mavericks. One of the beauties with the earlier OS was an almost immediate WiFi connection as soon as the lid was opened. Are others experiencing this?

    Mavericks needs a bit more help…

  20. They just released a new stable version 2.1 on November 1st! .. all of the speed lagginess has been fixed, especially with the mouse, and as well rendering issues I had with Mountain Lion on some window graphics for applications like Messages are all fixed too! WOOHOO!

    1. I am having issues with my macbook air Thunderbolt to dvi adapter. When I go from home office to office and plug into 24″ monitor. It only picks up one external display. I have 2 24″ monitors. Work around has been restoring or full shut down and then reboot. Never happened before.

  21. I’m getting the same mirroring problem with 2 30inch cinema displays and a Wacom Cintiq 24. Also, the touch facility on the cintiq is firing off on the wrong screen. Noticable lag now with large photoshop brushes. The mission control workaround has worked for me, but for a moment I was quite excited that I didn’t have to keep going across 2 screens to get to the menus. oh well, roll on 10.9.2. Quicktime 10 is behaving strangely, too. Doesn’t like .mov files created with Quicktime 7 pro and converts them. A 300mg file will take 20 minutes to convert and then is 1.5 gb.

  22. I’m using 2 DisplayLink USB adapters and the MiniDisplay port to drive 3 Dell VGA monitors with the MacBook Pro closed. I also tried AirDisplay. The DisplayLink monitor adapters were a disaster until I updated the drivers. AirDisplay blew the resolution on my main monitor so that it matched the iPad 2 and never displayed anything but a blue screen on the iPad. I also found that with Mavericks, if I unplug the external monitors without first opening the MacBook and activating the internal display, I have to reboot the computer to get any display at all on the internal monitor. Under Mountain Lion and previous versions, I could unplug the externals and transport the system then just open it and resume my work. Not so much on Mavericks. PLEASE APPLE, FIX THIS!!! I NEED IT>

  23. I would just like to use 1 external monitor with my MBP. I currently have it hooked up to an EIZO 24″ Flexscan via Thunderbolt to DVI but when I remove my MBP for use out of the office then return and hook it back up I am unable to close the lid of my MBP without the EIZO displaying “No DVI Input”. The only way around this is to reset the SMC on the MBP before I boot up every time. I don’t have the desk space to have the MBP open too.

  24. Same here, I have installed the 10.9 and I am using the Eizo and the LaCie with HDMI connectors and I am getting the mirrored display and I am not able to switch them around. Also I had to downgrdae the Wacom driver from 6.3 to 6.2 to make it work properly.

    Please….please….fix this, I am not able to work properly :-(

  25. I’ve owned dozens of Macs since 1984, and I’m fed up. Apple either makes really bad software design choices or the implementation is defective, as I quickly found out when I tried to use a TV connected to Apple TV as a monitor. It doesn’t work. It is utter crap.

    The only reason I’ve remained wedded to Macs is that I have a large iTunes library, but that is no longer sufficient reason to put up with Apple’s incompetence — and simply bad taste.

  26. My second USB monitor (DisplayLink) was also very slow to respond upon upgrading to Mavericks.
    The curser was painfully slow. I updated the DisplayLink driver, restarted, and it is much improved.

  27. My unexpected mirroring problem after Mavericks upgrade was easily corrected. In System Preferences/Mission control uncheck ‘Displays have their own spaces’! All OK know.

  28. Have a Mac Mini with 10.9 hooked up with HDMI – DVI. Works perfectly, wanted to show a video on a 1080p LG tv as a 2nd monitor hooked up through 6ft thunderbolt – HDMI wire, computer immediately becomes very slow, hard to get the mouse to move on screen in real time, computer is pretty much useless… But strangely was able to have the Quicktime video play in real time, just seemed like anything else with the mouse work with a lot of lagged.

  29. I have a MacMini with 1 VGA monitor hooked to Thunderbolt and another to USB via a Startech USB2VGAPRO2 adapter. I had the same problem (downloaded Mavericks and goodbye second screen) until Michael Shoenfield at Startech Canada told me about a new driver. I downloaded it and everything is now working fine.

  30. Certainly not as tech savvy as most of you guys.. my needs are simple.

    I have a late[thin] 2012 iMac [Mavericks] and a MacBookPro 2007 running Mavericks.

    Connected by a DVI[MBP] to Thunderbolt[iMac] and neither monitor recognises a connection in display preferences.

    Have been trawling through net tonight and found some contradictory results. Some say DVI to Thunderbolt will not recognise, as has to be TB to TB. On this thread some mention DVI to Thunderbolt that works?? Im confused.

    Can this connection work or am I peeing in the wind??

    Matt

  31. I’m running a 22″ Samsung TV monitor from a 2010 iMac via mini display port to VGA on the back of the Samsung. I connected AFTER iMac boot up, and my iMac went gray screen for a few seconds while it resolved the external monitor connected. My problem is that I have an empty Maverick’s desktop displaying on the external monitor but no ability to move my iMac’s open windows or cursor over to the external display. If I pull a window over to the left edge of my iMac monitor, no portion of that window shows on the external monitor. Odd. The external monitor is obviously connecting and communicating—inasmuch as the Maverick’s system desktop is rendering beautifully, but it’s obviously not fully interfacing as it should.

    I am about to reboot my iMac now that I have clicked off the “Displays have separate spaces” in Mission Control. This requires an iMac log out to initiate that change. I will let you know if this has any effect on how my iMac communicates with my external monitor.

    1. Hi Tim-

      Thanks for contacting Plugable support.

      One thing that may help is re-arranging the displays in OS X display preferences to match your physical monitor locations. One of the multiple displays issues we’ve seen on 10.9 is that this has to be re-done every time the system reboots, and often after simply unplugging and re-connecting the external display. Some instructions on how to do this are linked below- I hope this helps:
      http://documentation.apple.com/en/aperture/usermanual/index.html#chapter=B%26section=4%26tasks=true

      It sounds as though you are using a non-Plugable brand of adapter, is this correct? We’re not able to support other brands of device, so while we appreciate and welcome your comment please understand you’ll need to contact the manufacturer of your display port adapter for any additional support.

      If you do have a Plugable brand device, please confirm and I’ll be happy to help.

      Best wishes-

      Jeff Everett
      Plugable Technoloiges

  32. Nope…it didn’t change anything—except now the external monitor connected to my iMac is only displaying the desktop image, but no system menu bar across the top of the screen as it did before clicking off the “Displays have separate spaces” box in Mission Control.

    Eh. Guess I will see if my Mac Genius friend, Zach, has any ideas.

    1. Hi Rod – Unfortunately, we’ve seen no progress yet in 10.9.1 or 10.9.2. The regressions from 10.8.5 are still present in OS X and DisplayLink hasn’t found a way to work around them. Here’s the latest we have from DisplayLink:
      http://www.displaylink.com/support/ticket.php?id=354

      We don’t have any further updates of information from Apple (other than testing the new dot releases as they come out).

      Sorry for the bad news, but hope that background helps.

  33. I just updated to 10.9.2 and now my palette monitor has:

    1) Lost the ability to rotate
    2) Forgotten my background image
    3) Changed resolution

    It is a LG Flatron E2351.

    I have found others having similar problems and one person has solved it using ‘sudo’ commands in the command window (something I’m not up to doing) and that scares me a bit… especially since the problem seems to recur after a second reboot.

    This is a MASSIVE oversight by Apple and i’m quite upset that they would not allow 3RD party monitors or displays!

    I use mine (as mentioned) as a palette for video and graphics purposes… and because I cannot fit 2x landscape monitors.

    This needs to be ammended ASAP by Apple. I expect public outcry… I’m hopeful for it… Just like the removal of “mail merge” from Numbers… I’m starting to scratch my head at Apples [P.J.] decisions “post Jobs”.

  34. UGA multi Display Adapter Monitor distortion

    after updating to 10.9.2 my external monitor threw UGA multi Display usb Adapter causes my screen distortion and jumps that comes and goes frequently and sometimes after restart all is fine then when it comes back it will stick and get worse…checked the adapter on other screens, cables…

    any similar cases?

  35. Using USB 3 Mac Mini with a Samsung display plugged in mini-display port with mini-display to DVI adapter, and an HPw2408h display connected via hdmi. Second display is rotated 90°. When upgraded to Mavericks no telling what would happen on attempting to boot up computer. Much time, displays flashing on and off, often ending with two blank gray displays and cursor, but no dock, desktop or functionality. Would often start after forcing shut-down and re-booting, but not always. Start OK in safe mode. Reset NVRAM various times. Console log shows much dither about displays. I think I have resolved this by switching off hdmi secondary display before shutdown, and not switching it back on till booted up. Then both screens go black, but reappear shortly and I go on from there. Must need firmware update of some sort. Worked reasonably well in 10.8, but not 10.9.

  36. Hi everyone-

    To preface some good news with a disclaimer, Plugable is still not recommending our USB graphics devices for OS X Mavericks.

    That said, we’ve been seeing some improvements- although *NOT* to the frustrating issue where the “arrangement” of displays is lost- in the latest 10.9.3 beta releases.

    Today, Apple has enabled access to these beta builds of 10.9.3 to customers rather than just those with an Apple developer account. Those interested can signup to beta test the upcoming 10.9.3 update here:
    https://appleseed.apple.com/sp/betaprogram

    Credit to lifehacker for breaking this story-
    http://lifehacker.com/apple-opens-up-os-x-beta-testing-to-all-users-1566229779

    DisplayLink also has a 2.2 beta driver here:
    http://displaylink.com/support/mac_downloads.php

    Best wishes-

    Jeff Everett
    Plugable Technologies

  37. Now we’re at the end of July –

    Are we okay now with OSX V 10.9.4? I’m using an AppleTV to run a 3rd monitor, but it’s a little bit laggy.

    And which unit is best for the Mac? I mostly see ‘Windows’ on the product descriptions now.

    Thanks,
    Darren.

    1. Hi Darren – Unfortunately, fixes are required from Apple to fix the regressions in 10.9.X and they’ve not appeared yet (As far as we know, DisplayLink can’t fix unless they go around Apple OS interfaces which would be dangerous). Specifically, what we’ve seen is configuration is forgotten on reboot with > 1 non-PCI attached monitor, and configuration switches to mirror when HDMI attached display is present. These problems are why we’re still actively steering Mac users away from buying any USB graphics products. Sorry for the bad news. Updates/anecdotes from others are welcome.

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