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I have a 13-inch MacBook Pro with the default resolution 1280x800. I would like to know if there exists the possibility of having a better resolution?

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Presumption that for better, you mean higher. Better is subjective, and usually speaking the best resolution is the maximum native that the panel can support, followed by lowered resolutions that maintain the same aspect ratio. Start moving to aspect ratios that are different (16:10 on a 19:9 display, etc) and you start to lose quality as well as size. – stuffe Jan 31 '12 at 11:12
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Sorry, no. The resolution of the display panel itself is only 1280x800, so there is no way to display more without physically replacing the panel.

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Umm ok, I just thought maybe could be forced with software – byroncorrales Jan 30 '12 at 20:39
It's a very common request since Windows and Linux allow for easy overscanning of a virtual desktop - both scaling as well as panning when the pointer gets towards the edge of the visible windows. Macs are quite different in that they preserve the physical size of the display and virtualize in Spaces or Mission Control in even units of the physical screen size rather than incrementally per pixel. – bmike Jan 30 '12 at 21:21
Interesting comparison, @bmike, thanks! – Dan J Jan 30 '12 at 21:52
Actually this somehow is possible on my 13" MBP running Lion 10.7.3. Probably from the last update, but I have 1440x852 overscan mode (and I'm searching for a way to add more resolutions) @bmike – mspasov Feb 15 '12 at 19:31
If Lion included this on 10.7.3 there would be much rejoicing in the streets for the people would have more land upon which to build their empires at no additional cost to the emperor. :-) – bmike Feb 15 '12 at 20:23

Whilst not quite for the same reason, I have displayed a higher resolution on my Macbook that it is physically capable of producing natively, by screen sharing from my macbook onto my iMac. I've found that any increase in screen real estate is massively negated by the poorer quality of the display, which is by necessity reduced in detail in order to maintain the appropriate size. Not worth it, in my opinion.

What you can do, in an attempt to also "fake" the overscan method that bmike mentions, is to enable screen sharing on your local macbook, and then using a seperate VNC client, connect to yourself (i.e. localhost, or, and configure the VNC client to provide a larger overscanned/panned/scrolling display, but this is also a fudge, and can be proper irritating, especially when you consider the fixed dock and menubar that may both be hidden at any one time.

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You can just plug in a 21" flatscreen to act as a 2nd screen using a DVI adapter. Then change the resolution of the new screen (via dock settings) to 1600 x 1400 (or similar), then you have a 13" display plus a 21" display. The 21" display isn't just a scaled up 13" picture either. You can see whole documents that you would need to scroll through on the 13" screen. I've dragged large documents across from one screen to the other: on the laptop screen you only see half the document at any one time, on the 2nd screen you see all of it plus margins!

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you can do it as a "devoloper". No need for a developer account though. download Xcode from the Mac app store. this video will show u how

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You could also just change DisplayResolutionDisabled to DisplayResolutionEnabled in /Library/Preferences/ and log out and back in. But the maximum effective resolution shown in System Preferences is half of the native resolution, for example 640 x 400 for a 1280 x 800 display. – user495470 Aug 7 '12 at 16:20

You can do it virtually using SwitchResX, but it looks really bad. I changed back within a few minutes.

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