How to change the screen resolution of Macbook, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro


With the advent of Retina displays, with their exorbitant pixel density, the concept of “pixel doubling” entered the everyday life of apple technology users. This means that at an actual resolution of 5120 × 2880 pixels, the image on the screen will be identical to the level of 2560 × 1440 pixels, and it is proposed to calibrate it based on the “looks like” indicator.

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Dealing with the task

Retina displays have to “double pixels” because of the convenience of working with high-definition video, and just the opposite with text and elements of the macOS interface. There is no universal solution in this situation, since one user needs to simultaneously display several windows with detailed content on the screen, while the other prefers to work in the old fashioned way, dealing with the 5K format once a month. Therefore, the scale of settings is delimited from “comfortable to read” to “rational use of huge space” – an intuitive, clear gradation.

Default Apple sets the resolution that is considered the golden mean for a particular display model – usually half of its top figure. You can set the appropriate resolution on Mac in the menu Monitors (paragraph Scaled) applications System settings

How to change the screen resolution of Macbook, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro

For example, for a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, that’s 2560 × 1600 pixels, corrected to “looks like 1280 × 800 pixels”.

How to change the screen resolution of Macbook, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro

How to change the screen resolution of Macbook, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro

However, in the case of the iMac 5K, with a diagonal of 27 inches, we get the same adapted 2560 × 1440 pixels, although the original monitor resolution is different – 5120 × 2880 pixels.

How to change the screen resolution of Macbook, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro

How to change the screen resolution of Macbook, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro

This is done to unify the environment and simplify software customization, which in its mass tends to the typical aspect ratio of the screen. But a meticulous user can purposefully set other options (example for a 27-inch iMac 5K): 1600 × 900, 2048 × 1152, 2880 × 1620 or 3200 × 1800.

How to change the screen resolution of Macbook, iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro

There are three factors to consider when choosing a resolution.

The first is the ratio between the area occupied by the display window and the total display area for optimal use of the screen space.

The second is a visual example of “looks like”, which is the easiest way to assess how comfortable the picture is for your eyes.

The third one is the most difficult, because with an increase in resolution, the load on the video card increases and the load on the video card is very significant, in addition, incorrectly adapted software can produce glitches. Confident in the performance of your system and the reliability of your software – you can experiment with high resolution. And vice versa.

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Choosing alternate Retina display resolutions

To circumvent the artificial limitation on the part of Apple, which prudently does not encourage sophisticated calibration of its hardware, they use thematic utilities. For example, Resolutionator, which not only opens access to screen resolution settings in one click, without long trips through the menu, but also makes it possible to set exotic proportions.

Resolutionator - change Mac resolution

Resolutionator - change Mac resolution

The application forces macOS to use other image calibration algorithms, to abandon the standard “pixel doubling” and “looks like” mode, increasing the efficiency of operation of each point on the display. At least that’s how it was intended – the true benefits of Resolutionator will be appreciated by those who often and deliberately change the resolution of the Mac screen, moving from one type of work to another.

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