I just got a new Retina MacBook Pro, and I keep it at the default 1440x900 resolution setting due to not liking when everything is super-tiny. However, I was wondering, does the resolution setting make a difference when playing movies?

My thinking is that if the computer thinks it has more pixels, it should be able to display a higher-resolution video. Am I wrong, or should I make a habit of switching to the "More Space" resolution before playing movies?

  • Just to clarify: 1440 x 900 is the new default resolution for the 13 inch MacBook Pro (Late 2016). The display itself still has the same retina resolution as the previous models (2560 x 1600) – oa- Nov 25 '16 at 8:28

It depends on the software you are using. As long as you haven't selected an upscaled resolution ("Larger Text" in the Displays preference pane), it should work just fine with any application designed for Mac within the last few years — including Quicktime, VLC, MPlayerX, etc. Simplifying a bit, these will all recognize that your screen's "pixels" are actually four pixels each, and make use of them.

However, if a program has not been optimized for use with retina screens, it may appear pixellated when the screen is set to a retina resolution.

  • The "one pixel are actually four pixels each" concept is only true if the display is used at 1/4 of its native resolution. In this case that's 1280 x 800 (retina) instead of the native 2560 x 1600 the screen provides. This results in a clean pixel scale factor of 2. With 1440 x 900 the pixel scale factor is ~1,58 for the 13" MBPr. – oa- Nov 25 '16 at 8:39
  • @oa- The OP said that 1440x900 is the default resolution, so assuming they are telling the truth they must have the 15" MBP. This gives it a native 2880x1800 resolution. – Timothy Mueller-Harder Nov 25 '16 at 8:43
  • correct. Apple upped the default resolution for the 13" MBP. So now it's at 1440 x 900 instead of 1280 x 800. I assumed that the OP is worried about the movie quality as this results in an odd pixel scaling factor. I guess we have to wait for the OP to provide us with the details. Of course the 15" MBP has the native retina resolution of 1440 x 900. – oa- Nov 25 '16 at 8:49
  • @oa- Are you sure? I can't find a source for that anywhere, and I find it unlikely that Apple would set the default resolution to one that's blurry. – Timothy Mueller-Harder Nov 25 '16 at 8:53
  • Yes, have a look at the question I asked and answered. I included the source as well: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/262373/… – oa- Nov 25 '16 at 10:09

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