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.


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

  • 1
    It's crazy that the "expert" mode needs a second hidden "actual real expert" mode... – Stephen Lead May 24 '17 at 7:21
  • This does offer additional options, but none of them seem to be 16:9 :/ – Tin Man Aug 7 at 14:19

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.


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.

  • 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 at 14:29

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

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