I bought a DELL U2720Q 4k monitor to see text clearly as my last one (Acer XV272U) was not doing the job. After installing the U2720Q, I found that I need to scale in Display to see larger text but then macOS says "looks like 2560x1440".

Is the display really scaled down to 2560x1440 or is it still 4k? I want to run on full 4k resolution but with larger fonts. How do I achieve that?

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  • To save everybody having to look it up - Native resolutions: Acer 2560 x 1440, Dell 3840 x 2160.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 1, 2021 at 9:40
  • @Tetsujin That didn't help. Can you elaborate with regarding to my question Nov 1, 2021 at 9:43
  • I don't use retina screens - the info was to help those who do. Basically, the screen uses some smart algorithm to make the interface look bigger without wasting the extra pixels. idk exactly how it does it, so someone else will have to answer. btw, a 27" 1440p screen ought to be plenty sharp, but you will be able to see individual pixels if you get close enough.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 1, 2021 at 9:47
  • okay so you are saying even if it says 2k resolution it will use all the pixels with some algorithm. Dell is not retina display only. Nov 1, 2021 at 9:48
  • @Tetsujin 2k 144hz Acer monitor was not able to display the text as sharp as it was in Microsoft windows. After struggling with changing anti aliasing with command line, I decided to buy a 4k monitor. Nov 1, 2021 at 9:50

1 Answer 1


Yes, that setting would use the full 4k resolution of the monitor - but everything will be scaled to look like 2560x1440.

You can often check whether or not the full 4k resolution is being used by activating the on-screen-menu on the monitor using the physical buttons on the monitor.

Note that settings you're changing here does not "just" adjust the font size. You can adjust font size in word processors, browsers, etc. without changing the display scaling as you're doing here. When you adjust display scaling, you're adjusting the size of most things on screen - i.e. also buttons, window frames, etc.

You mention that you're having problems seeing text "clearly". You should be aware that you have chosen a resolution that won't divide perfectly into the monitor's resolution, and thus you're not getting optimal "clarity".

I.e. your monitor is set to run at 3840x2160 resolution currently. If you output a 3840x2160 signal to it, it will display pixel perfect - but everything will of course be somewhat small in comparison (27" could be considered a large display, but for some even that will seem small).

If you scale your user interface to look like 1920x1080, it can be thought of as double every pixel in width and height. I.e. every pixel becomes 4 pixels, and as such would be "clear" on the display. This is not exactly what happens as some things aren't doubled as such - instead text, videos, etc. are rendered at high resolution.

In your case, you have chosen your scaling to have it look like 2560x1440. That means a non-integer factor between that resolution and output resolution of 3840x2160. I.e. this means that every pixel becomes a cube of 1.5 pixels width and height. As that is not physically possible (you can't actually display half a pixel), this means that the graphics is actually rendered at a higher resolution and then downsampled to what your display is actually capable off. This comes at the cost of "clarity".

  • Thank you for detailed explanation. So to maximize clearity(4k resolution) while still having large font size(in system scaling), can I do something else? Or the scaling options provided by apple are okay enough? I just want to make sure I utilize the full power of 4k. Othwise there is no point in buying a 4k monitor. Nov 1, 2021 at 12:07
  • As long as you're using a 4k output signal, you're using the "full power" of the 4k display. Your eyesight and distance to the display determines how large (physical) size you need things to be.
    – jksoegaard
    Nov 1, 2021 at 12:41
  • okay alright. So adjusting scaling size will not matter then. I will continue with looks like "2560*1440" size. Thank you :) Nov 1, 2021 at 13:20
  • I don't know how you got to that conclusion. The selected scaling size absolutely matters as I wrote in my answer. The "clarity" of the text you'll see depends on your selection.
    – jksoegaard
    Nov 1, 2021 at 13:38
  • okay then is there a way to get 4k resolution with large fonts Nov 2, 2021 at 4:50

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