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I’ve been having this issue for a long time and I can’t get my head around it.

When I connect my MacBook Pro 2015 to an external 1920x1080 monitor, the font becomes fuzzy and I get dizzy within a few minutes. I tried all suggestions on the official Apple forums but nothing worked.

What I understood is that the problem lies with how macOS renders fonts at different resolutions. I am understanding that it has something to do with aspect ratios and the fact that each pixel is represented by 2 physical pixels to give the Retina effect.

So my MacBook Pro max resolution is 2560x1600 which gives a 1.6 aspect ratio. A 1920x1080 monitor has a 1.78 aspect ratio. So to my understanding, any external monitor should have a 1.6 aspect ratio to be good for my eyes and to avoid font fuzziness.

I saw people recommending ultra HD monitors but those too have the same aspect ratio as 1920x1080, so how are they supposed to be better?

Can someone please explain what I’m missing here?

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You're missing something entirely. There's absolutely no requirement of having a 1.6 aspect ratio on external monitors on a Mac.

As long as you do not configure your displays to be mirrored (i.e. showing the exact same image), then the internal and external monitors are treated as separate displays. The resolution and/or aspect ratio of one monitor has no impact at all on the other monitor.

Regarding the 2 physical pixels for Retina effect, you're also missing something entirely here. An external monitor with a 1920x1080 resolution is not going to be in rendered in Retina mode. That is only for high resolution displays. Retina is not part of the equation here at all.

I would ensure that you have chosen font sizes that are large enough for the display. This should cure "fuzziness". You might also want to double-check with a different monitor to ensure that it is not this specific monitor that has a problem.

  • I tried 3 monitors with different sizes and brands. And yes font size didn't fix my issue. The problem starts to be apparent by just looking at the macOS top bar. The clock's font and everything is fuzzy. I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with the font's size either. – Tarek May 17 '18 at 8:14
  • What exactly are you comparing it to when you say it is fuzzy? - If you compare it to the built-in display, then yes, it is going to look "fuzzy". This is not due to a flaw in the external monitor or in macOS, but simply because the internal display is much better than your external monitor (i.e. in another class). The built-in display on an early 2015 MacBook Pro has a resolution of 2560x1600. Due the Retina mode the fonts appear crisper than a non-Retina display. In essence the font is actually drawn larger (in terms of pixels) than you have specified, but due to the high PPI it looks right. – jksoegaard May 17 '18 at 9:35
  • Yes I am comparing it to the build-in display. So if I need to use an external monitor without the fonts being fuzzy, what resolutions should I be looking for? – Tarek May 17 '18 at 11:31
  • You need to look at PPI, not resolution alone. Your built-in display has 227 PPI. A standard 24" 1920x1080 monitor such as the dell SE2417HG has a PPI of 93. Huge difference - this is why you think it is "fuzzy". You could buy for example a dell P2415Q monitor which has a PPI of 185. It doesn't have exactly the same quality as the built-in display, but it is much, much closer than your existing monitor. – jksoegaard May 17 '18 at 12:38
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    No, the monitor should work equally fine on Windows as on macOS. You’re not going to get quality comparable with the built-in display just by using Windows with the 1920x1080 monitor. – jksoegaard May 19 '18 at 6:00

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