I have a 13-inch MacBook Pro with the default resolution 1280x800. I would like to know if there exists the possibility of having a better resolution?

  • 2
    Presumption that for better, you mean higher. Better is subjective, and usually speaking the best resolution is the maximum native that the panel can support, followed by lowered resolutions that maintain the same aspect ratio. Start moving to aspect ratios that are different (16:10 on a 19:9 display, etc) and you start to lose quality as well as size.
    – stuffe
    Jan 31, 2012 at 11:12
  • Wrong answer chosen Oct 1, 2016 at 21:28

9 Answers 9


Sorry, no. The resolution of the display panel itself is only 1280x800, so there is no way to display more without physically replacing the panel.

  • 3
    It's a very common request since Windows and Linux allow for easy overscanning of a virtual desktop - both scaling as well as panning when the pointer gets towards the edge of the visible windows. Macs are quite different in that they preserve the physical size of the display and virtualize in Spaces or Mission Control in even units of the physical screen size rather than incrementally per pixel.
    – bmike
    Jan 30, 2012 at 21:21
  • Actually this somehow is possible on my 13" MBP running Lion 10.7.3. Probably from the last update, but I have 1440x852 overscan mode (and I'm searching for a way to add more resolutions) @bmike
    – mspasov
    Feb 15, 2012 at 19:31
  • 1
    If Lion included this on 10.7.3 there would be much rejoicing in the streets for the people would have more land upon which to build their empires at no additional cost to the emperor. :-)
    – bmike
    Feb 15, 2012 at 20:23
  • 1
    Looks like it is wrong answer. Macbook does support higher resolutions and there is software for that. You can buy such software at app store for $3 or write your own basing on this code specialmeaning.blogspot.com/2016/07/yes-apple-i-did-it.html Jul 31, 2016 at 7:12

There is an app named Retina Display Menu. You can find it like rdm.tar on google and it allows you to switch to whatever resolution you want on your Mac. I have a MBP mid 2012 running 1440x900 as native and it works perfectly.


You can do it virtually using SwitchResX, but it looks really bad. I changed back within a few minutes.


Retina Display Menu actually works perfectly, and is exacty what you're looking for.

I personaly like to play poker, and by adjusting up the resolution I can have multiple games going on at my 13" screen without any trouble, beforehand the desktop size was to small to allow multiple games


  • This app was already added as an answer. Can you please explain how your answer differs from what was already posted? If you just want to confirm this app works, that's done as a comment to that answer, not as a new answer.
    – fsb
    Jan 3, 2017 at 14:34
  • This seems to be the new project: github.com/avibrazil/RDM
    – Robert
    Jul 4, 2018 at 21:05

Whilst not quite for the same reason, I have displayed a higher resolution on my Macbook that it is physically capable of producing natively, by screen sharing from my macbook onto my iMac. I've found that any increase in screen real estate is massively negated by the poorer quality of the display, which is by necessity reduced in detail in order to maintain the appropriate size. Not worth it, in my opinion.

What you can do, in an attempt to also "fake" the overscan method that bmike mentions, is to enable screen sharing on your local macbook, and then using a seperate VNC client, connect to yourself (i.e. localhost, or, and configure the VNC client to provide a larger overscanned/panned/scrolling display, but this is also a fudge, and can be proper irritating, especially when you consider the fixed dock and menubar that may both be hidden at any one time.


You can just plug in a 21" flatscreen to act as a 2nd screen using a DVI adapter. Then change the resolution of the new screen (via dock settings) to 1600 x 1400 (or similar), then you have a 13" display plus a 21" display. The 21" display isn't just a scaled up 13" picture either. You can see whole documents that you would need to scroll through on the 13" screen. I've dragged large documents across from one screen to the other: on the laptop screen you only see half the document at any one time, on the 2nd screen you see all of it plus margins!


you can do it as a "devoloper". No need for a developer account though. download Xcode from the Mac app store. this video will show u how


  • You could also just change DisplayResolutionDisabled to DisplayResolutionEnabled in /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist and log out and back in. But the maximum effective resolution shown in System Preferences is half of the native resolution, for example 640 x 400 for a 1280 x 800 display.
    – Lri
    Aug 7, 2012 at 16:20

Yes, you should try this http://specialmeaning.blogspot.com/2016/07/yes-apple-i-did-it.html

Install Xcode from AppStore and follow the guide to setup maximal resolution.

The program output for MacBook 2016 for example:

Current resolution was 1440x900
Supported resolution modes:
2560x1600 is the selected top one.

In current versions of MacOS in the System Settings -> Displays you can enable Show all resolutions and see the full list of resolutions that the machine can use, but with Apple Retina displays (used in most current devices) you'll see that the one marked as '(Default)' is somewhere in the middle because of the way Retina displays work - basically they use multiple physical pixels for each actual displayed pixel.

So whilst you can increase the resolution but it won't necessarily be 'better' for most purposes. Though it would allow you get more into the screen but it might be hard to actually read it.

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