Discrete graphics switching, MacBook Pro Retina, Google Chat and you

MacBook_Pro_Retina_nvidia-3Getting a new toy work laptop was one of the best decisions I made last year. My old 17″ MacBook Pro was getting tired and could not keep up with the computing I needed to do for my job. So when I got the 16GB of RAM 15″ MacBook Pro Retina (MBPr) late last year I was so pumped. I could run Parallels to run the windows programming environments as well as Firefox, Chrome and the web development apps all at the same time with plenty of room to spare.

One of the greatest things about this type of MBPr is the ability to do graphics switching on the fly. Apps that need more graphic card juice can get it. However using the NVIDIA GeForec GT 650M sucks the battery faster than a cheetah in hot pursuit. So in an effort to reduce and monitor the times my MBPr switches to discrete graphics mode I downloaded the awesome gfxCardStatus app for OSX. It lets you know when graphics switching occurs and most importantly what app turned on discrete graphics. Very handy and I suggest anyone with a graphics switching mac to download and donate.

All of that to say google chat in gmail and google+ has been the most annoying graphic switching app to deal with. I just want to check email in gmail or look at my google+ feed without having graphics card switching on and off. And if I want to leave gmail up and running it would be burning the battery down just to have the convenience of the web app up and running. This had to stop. So I started looking into why google chat was using discrete graphics. It all narrowed down to the google voice and video chat plugin. I uninstalled that plugin and no more graphics switching. Ok figured out why it was doing that. But there are times when I may want to use the video and audio features of chat in google+ or gmail. So I reinstalled the plugin and was able to find a way to disable chat in gmail and temporarily disable it in google+ with adblock plus as I wrote in my Removing Chat in Google+ article. Now I am switching graphics cards way less often and managing battery life much better.

Hopefully this will help someone in a similar position because I could not find anyone else by google’ing this issue. If you haver an questions or additions to my thoughts here please leave a comment. Thanks!

Removing Chat in Google+ (and GMail)

Google PlusI’ve been using google+ more recently and while I don’t mind chat being on the right side of the screen I wanted to remove it. No I’m not talking turn it off and have it looking at me. Or minimizing it somehow. I mean turn it off. Gone. For good. So I looked around the internets for a solution and all I could come up with was to sign out of chat. While some may find that as acceptable I didn’t. There had to be a way to just have nice white space on the right side. And there is! Here is how I did it in Firefox:

  • Download the amazing Adblock Plus add-on for Firefox
  • Right click in the chat area on the right in google+
  • Click on Adblock Plus: Block frame…
  • I just chose the defaults and hit the Add Filter button

Then boom. It is gone. And you can sigh in relief as you have de-cluttered and removed another distraction from google+ so you can browse your feed in peace. Sure there will be times when I may want to have chat in google+ and for those times I will just disable Adblock Plus for the plus.google.com domain. Then refresh the page.

This does not get rid of chat in GMail however and because GMail does not put chat into a frame we can not use Adblock to remove it. Fortunately that is a much easier process. Just go into your gmail settings, to the chat settings and turn it off. Easy peasy.

Ok so if you have gotten this far you may be asking yourself “Why get rid of chat!?! I need chat!!”. Well I have been using the Messages.app on my Mac to supply my google chatting and iMessage needs. I will also use Adium when the need arises which also supports google chat and other chat client protocols. Another huge reason for me is because I’m using a MacBook Pro Retina laptop with a discrete plus internal graphics cards. Google chat voice and video plugin was triggering the discrete graphic card and draining the battery. No Beuno! I plan on writing a follow up blog post on how best to handle the discrete vs internal video card battle. So stay updated on new posts by signing up to my newsletter on the right.

This solution assumes you are using Firefox and not Chrome. I know there is an Adblock type extension for chrome, but I have not tried it out yet. Let me know in the comments if you try it out and please if anyone has a better way of doing this let me know. Thanks!