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Background

I was presenting at a venue where the projector supports 1280x720px resolution (16:9) via VGA cable (I've previously used the same room and equipment on an older 2011 MacBook Pro running Mavericks).

Yesterday I used a newer 2014 MacBook Pro Retina running Yosemite, and was unable to set this resolution - the closest I could choose was 1280x1024px.

When the MacBook is mirroring to a projector via VGA cable, the > System Preferences > Displays panel looks something like this:

enter image description here In my case the only options were 1280x1024px and 800x600px (this image is from the web - I didn't get a screenshot at the time).

My question

Is there anywhere, other than the > System Preferences > Displays dialog, where you can explicitly set/force the output resolution?

My only options were 1280x1024 or 800x600, yet I'm positive the projector supported 16:9 since I've used it before.

4 Answers 4

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In the monitor/display settings just press the Option key when selecting the "scaled" option. Then additional resolution options will show up.

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  • 2
    It's crazy that the "expert" mode needs a second hidden "actual real expert" mode... May 24, 2017 at 7:21
  • This does offer additional options, but none of them seem to be 16:9 :/
    – Tin Man
    Aug 7, 2019 at 14:19
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I had the same problem yesterday. I needed to do recording on Windows (a Parallels VM) in 1280x720 (16:9), and Parallels always resets my Windows resolutions to whatever Macbook sees even when I use the config options Parallels say should not mess with that.

I wrote this exact command with cscreen:

cscreen -x 1280 -y 720 -r 60

Which allowed my Macbook to show this resolution in the series of resolutions I see in Retina Display Menu (RDM) - I had to quit and reopn RDM, no log off or reboot required.

Then I just selected it from there, reverted my Parallels to the original setting of following whatever Macbook uses (I think I needed to reboot the VM), and it just worked.

Update Regarding RDM

I have been using RDM for years now. I've tested it on latest macOS to date on Macbook Pro 2018 (haven't checked on ARM Macbooks but it should work).

It's also available on Homebrew:

brew install --cask avibrazil-rdm
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  • Awesome! You might want to include the AppStore link for RDM; a DropBox link from Reddit just doesn't seem trustworthy. I imagine it's the utility user3439894 linked to — at the very least, it works with that.
    – Tin Man
    Aug 7, 2019 at 14:29
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    brew install --cask avibrazil-rdm Jun 25, 2021 at 2:55
  • Yeah, I've been using it for years now but forgot to update the answer. Thanks.
    – Meligy
    Jul 8, 2021 at 2:38
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Displays under System Preferences is it from the OS X built-in UI side.

There are third-party utilities like Display Menu that offers additional resolutions.

There is also cscreen if you want to do it in Terminal or incorporate it in a script.

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Display menu doesnt do 16:9 on a Retina MBP...only 16:10 and 4:3

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