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I have a mid 2012 MacBook Pro Retina. The native (i.e. maximum supporter built-in display resolution) is, as far as I know, 2880x1800. So far so good. Then I went to resolution settings and slided it all the way right, to the highest offered by the system. No other resolution apps, just the standard OS X setting.

I took a screenshot (shift-command-3). Clicked on it and chose Get Info.

The resolution of the picture was 3588x2276.

The Photoshop shows the same resolution.

How can this be?

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By selecting the far-right setting for resolution within System Preferences, you are seemingly increasing the screen resolution to a value greater than 2880x1800. This is exactly why you are seeing an image with greater dimensions.

What the display settings allow you to do is scale resolutions so words and images all appear larger or smaller on the display screen yet all fit within the physical display (through scaling).

That being said, any scaled resolution may not offer the same image quality as the "Best (Retina)" setting depending on the application etc.

Also, the fact that your graphics performance will vary when scaling the resolutions indicates that your computer is using system resources to compute/adjust/scale what your display projects. This is how the resolution appears to be more, or less, than what the hardware should support.

Each alternate resolution will be higher or lower in dimension but scaled down/up to fit the display window.

  • Please explain me how is it possible to physically see the larger resolution than the monitor can physically display, without seeing only the portion of the image? – Martin Apr 2 '14 at 22:03
  • @Martin Please see the additions to my answer – 1'' Apr 3 '14 at 0:02
  • OK, I understand that the graphic unit can form an ultra-high resolution image and scale it down to fit the physical resolution of the screen, that part is clear, only the question is - why? Scaling up is clear, it's a necesity if display's native res is higher than the graphic card's maximum res. But producing a larger image and then scaling it down, well, that part I can't get. – Martin Apr 4 '14 at 22:35

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