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A question I've had in my head since I first saw screenshots of the display preference pane on the new Retina MBP is this: Can it be made to run with what you could call a 1.0 UI scaling factor (same amount of pixels for the same widget as you'd get on a regular MBP or say, an iMac)?

To clarify, the preference pane appears to allow you to select between several predefined scaling factors from "Like 1920x1200" (UI scaling factor = 1.5) through "Like 1440x900" (UI scaling factor = 2.0) to "Like 1024x640" (UI scaling factor = 2.8125) and there is also a radio button for "Best for Retina display".

Does this radio button for "Best for Retina display" set the UI scaling to 1.0 or does it simply set the scaling to the "default" 2.0?

If the latter, has anyone checked if there's some defaults write[...] 1.0 setting available which forces the scaling of the UI to 1.0?

It might not always be a useful mode to run things in but I can see several use cases where it would be very useful for me to be able to set the UI scaling to 1.0 rather than somewhere between 1.5 and 2.8125...

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up vote 7 down vote accepted


There is no bundled way to do it yet, but four apps provide this ability:

SwitchResX: A reasonably simple solution, SwitchResX is a third-party preference panel that allows you to run custom resolutions on any display. Install the preference panel, select the Retina Display, and add a custom resolution setting for 2880×1800.

SetResX: Probably the easiest option of them all, SetResX is a little menu-bar app that allows you to run 2880×1800 easily.

scrutil: Slightly more advanced due to the nature of the command line, the free utility called screenutil gets the job done immediately with a quick entry into the Terminal.

ChangeResolution: ChangeResolution is a new tiny AppleScript front end to a command line utility that changes the resolution to 2880×1800.

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Nice answer, stumbled across that page this morning myself. Native solution would be better but at least now it's been verified that it's possible. – mludd Jun 20 '12 at 5:49
I tried scrutil first but the display jumps to native mode and immediately jumps back to the previous res. SetResX worked without a hitch. – grahamparks Jun 20 '12 at 10:34
Here are the SetResX developer’s main pages for SetResX (rather than just the SendSpace download link): original introduction thread on Reddit, update thread. – Rory O'Kane Sep 6 '12 at 23:14
There’s also another app, QuickRes. (Via this Reddit comment in the SetResX introduction thread.) – Rory O'Kane Sep 6 '12 at 23:18
That OS X Daily article has been edited: it now also mentions a fourth app, ChangeResolution‌​, “a new tiny AppleScript front end to a command line utility that changes the resolution to 2880×1800”. Though its link seems to be broken. – Rory O'Kane Sep 6 '12 at 23:30

Quicksilver can do it also if you enable the Displays plugin. I use it all the time. You can assign triggers to specific resolutions/actions as well.
enter image description here

Also see for a quick description. And here is the description from the help:

Displays Plugin
The displays plugin allows Quicksilver to index the displays currently attached to your Mac, in order to set the Desktop picture and their resolution, colour depth and refresh rate.

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Retina DisplayMenu lets you select specific resolutions (both HiDPI and standard resolutions) and is the app that I currently use.

Another option is QuickRes.

All resolution options

Selected resolution in image above is the Best for Retina resolution.

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