MacBook displays normally run at a scaled resolution, which uses the additional pixels of higher resolution monitors to improve the clarity of text on screen while keeping everything at the same size. However, this leads to the display essentially being “zoomed in” with everything much bigger than it should be.

If the display runs at its native, non-scaled resolution, you’ll have a lot more space to work with, which may be good for those who are trying to squeeze every inch of workspace out of a smaller MacBook.

Try Out the Built-in Controls First

Apple does include some controls for changing how zoomed in the display is, which you can find under the “Display” settings in System Preferences:

If you’re currently using the default settings, it’s probably best to try this out before resorting to a third-party solution.

Run at Native with Retina Display Menu

Retina Display Menu is a simple menu bar app that lets you select a custom resolution from a drop-down list. It’s an older app but has no issues running on macOS Mojave. If it ends up breaking in the future, you can try SwitchResX, which has been updated much more recently, but is a paid app.

Download the DMG for the app from the release link at the bottom of the app’s page and open it up. From the icon in the menu bar, you can select which resolution you want to run.

RDM does allow you to run higher resolutions than your native display, but they’ll be blurry as it will have to interpolate. Here my 13″ MacBook has a native resolution of 2560×1600, but is able to run at closer to 4K with scaling. It won’t look particularly good though, and might be too small to even read, so it’s best to stick with your native resolution. You can find your native resolution under the “Display” tab in About This Mac.

RDM has support for multiple displays at once, and even for changing refresh rates of high refresh rate displays, though may be limited if you have an older DisplayPort cable.

It’s not without some bugs and inconveniences though. Even if you launch the app at startup, it won’t load your default resolution, leaving you to manually select it. Additionally, if you use multiple monitors, every time you unplug your secondary monitor, your MacBook’s monitor will be reset to the default settings, and you’ll have to reselect the resolution you use again. Sometimes it will bug out and you’ll have to select the resolution twice. Overall though, it does its job pretty well.

Image Credits: guteksk7/Shutterstock

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Anthony Heddings is the resident cloud engineer for LifeSavvy Media, a technical writer, programmer, and an expert at Amazon's AWS platform. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and CloudSavvy IT that have been read millions of times.
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