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Regarding non-retina apps running in low-resolution mode on a retina display:

  • In the past, circa 2012 (ref), these apps were scaled with nearest-neightbour algorithm, where 1 pixel would become a group of 4 identical pixels. Confirmed in Apple Docs from the period

  • At some point since then, at least by 2016 (ref), these apps are now scaled with a bilinear (or similar) filter meaning that a single pixel does not get scaled up cleanly and the resulting group of 4 pixels is blurred with surrounding pixels

So, my question: is there a way to change the scaling algorithm back to nearest-neighbour?

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  • The OS has changed the scaling method used. The old method no longer exists in the code: and even if it did, there's no documented way of changing it, least of all on a per-app basis. Send feedback to Apple if you want them to change it. – benwiggy Sep 19 '20 at 10:31
  • @benwiggy thanks for the insight! Can you give more information? Which file/function/api is this code in? Basically a reference I can quote in my Apple feedback. – Matt Sephton Sep 19 '20 at 10:49
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I don't have a system on which I can reproduce your issue, so this is just a guess, but check out the advice on this forum post: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/change-osx-scaling-mode-for-retina-screen-with-non-retina-content.1428540/

Namely:

  1. Try using SwitchResX to enable 1:1 mode at your display's native resolution (I believe this will make your content very small; not sure whether that's a workable solution for you)
  2. Use an external, non-retina display :)
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    Thanks for your answer! That thread is where I got some of the info in the OP. I'm the most recent poster on it. Sadly none of that works for me. – Matt Sephton Aug 20 '20 at 8:25

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