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I've got a 2012 Macbook Retina talking to a Samsung 4k TV.

I'd actually like to revert back to 1080p.

All the google searches I try talk about going to 4k, but I actually want to go the other way, back down to 1080p.

Although I do get the font-size option to make the fonts larger, it's still only 30 hertz, and it's SUPER choppy when I do screen mirroring. Also I'm seeing actual rendering bugs.

I bought the TV because it was large, not because it was 4k. I've used MacBooks with 1080p TVs for years and generally like it.

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You should be able to do this with SwitchResX. It'll let you select whatever resolution you choose, and let's you disable HiDPI mode (scaling).

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  • I had seen that software suggested for another question, so will try it. Currently my system is in the midst of being reconfigured. – Mark Bennett Apr 17 '15 at 14:09
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this is a free program that does exactly what OP asked. I find this page while searching for a solution, maybe someone else will too. https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/display-menu/id549083868?mt=12

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You can adjust this setting in under: System preferences > Display

Select your TV and click the 'Scaled' bullet.

Now you should have the option to select a different resolution.

Also see: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202471

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  • Thanks for the answer, but it misses the point of the question. That dialog, which I'm quite familiar with, changes the font size, but NOT the actual dot resolution output from the Mac. So, although it makes the fonts larger, it's still pumping out 4k's worth of pixels, which is not what I wanted. Regardless of font size, I'm having sluggishness issues. I'd rather have it just put out fewer pixels, as in 1080p. – Mark Bennett Apr 3 '15 at 23:35
  • @MarkBennett "it's still pumping out 4k's worth of pixels” it’s always going to be rendering "4k x Y” pixels on a 4k display. You can’t change that. downscaling the resolution helps reduce the work that the GPU has to do to render an image of that magnitude on a 4k screen (the same way pixel doubling works), and, as a byproduct the lag you may be experiencing. – njboot Apr 4 '15 at 19:39
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    @njboot (possibly I'm misunderstanding your comment?) If you hook up a native 1080p source to a 4k TV, the pixels coming across the wire into the TV are just at 1080p. I agree that, internally, the TV will scale it up to 4k, but the source is sending only 25% of the pixels across the HDMI cable. – Mark Bennett Apr 20 '15 at 21:21
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You're trying to solve the wrong problem. HDMI can only display at 30Hz on a 4k screen, irrespective of what you are pushing to it. Unless the display has some internal resolution management (only transfer a 1080p image and scale it) then you will always have this limit.

Connect with DisplayPort if you monitor supports it.

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  • Looks like you're correct for HDMI 1.4, but they say HDMI 2.0 can do it. I'll have to check the back of my TV for non-HDMI ports, and the spec sheet to see if it's HDMI 1.4 or 2.0 (it's new this year, 4k, and $$$, so hopefully yes) Found this link cnet.com/news/hdmi-2-0-what-you-need-to-know – Mark Bennett Aug 25 '15 at 22:10

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