I'm looking to record some screencasts, and 720p (1280x720) seems to be the best choice for the resolution. It's supported by video sites like YouTube and Vimeo as one of the standard "HD" resolutions, but it's small enough that it can be comfortably viewed on smaller screens without needing to play the video back full screen.

However, there is no option for 1280x720 in my System Preferences. How can I get my Mac to use this resolution? I've seen SwitchResX and I've tried to make it work, but it's very complicated and I haven't had much luck with it. Are there any other utilities that do the same thing? Would buying a Mini DisplayPort -> HDMI adapter and hooking it up to a 720p TV work?

  • That last idea would very probably work.
    – Tuesday
    Mar 11, 2012 at 19:32
  • @TimothyMueller-Harder Well, I've heard that some HDTVs report their sizes as slightly more than 720p because of overscan or whatever, but either way I'd like to know for sure before I buy the hardware. Mar 11, 2012 at 19:37
  • Oh, if it involves buying one, don't bother. I'm sure there's a better solution! I assumed you already had one. (Even if it did report is resolution as higher, there might be a resolution option of the size you want.)
    – Tuesday
    Mar 11, 2012 at 19:39
  • @TimothyMueller-Harder Well, I was talking more about the adapter, but it's true that I don't have an HDTV either so I'd need to go find one of those as well, or perhaps I could convert the HDMI signal into DVI or VGA and hook it back up to my monitor. Still, it's a rather long shot, so I'd like to know if that sort of setup works before I buy. Mar 11, 2012 at 19:42
  • @KyleCronin I'm looking for the same solution. I want to record 720p screencasts on my Macbook Air. What solution did you end up going with? Thanks.
    – user13716
    Oct 26, 2014 at 10:21

8 Answers 8


One quick tip for finding more resolutions is to hold the Option key while clicking Scaled in System Preferences > Displays. This definitely works in OS X El Capitan and I think it worked in Yosemite at least.

For example, without Option, my 1440x900 macbook air screen gives me 1440 x 900, 1280 x 800, 1152 x 720, and 1024 x 640. But when I add Option, it adds 1140 x 810, 1280 x 720 (the one you want), and 800 x 600.

  • Good answer but I'm on Yosemite and I do not see additional resolutions. Aug 24, 2016 at 19:59
  • This should be the accepted solution!! So good on Sierra, works perfectly without anything else installed. Sep 16, 2016 at 13:43

Buying a MiniDisplay port to HDMI adapter and then attaching a 720P display in Mirroring mode works at setting an effective 720P resolution. As indicated by the screen capture below. The screen shot shown in preview was taken when the setup was in Mirroring Mode with a 720P TV. The picture below containing that screen shot is when the MacBook is running in normal 1280 x 800 mode.

720P by Mirroring a TV connected by mini-dp to HDMI adapter

Stuff involved:

  • MacBook Pro 13"

  • Vizio 720P TV

  • Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter

  • Can you confirm that using an adapter works? Do you have one? Mar 13, 2012 at 7:14
  • I have the adapter and a 720P TV as well as a 1440 X 900 display that does not natively list support for the 1280 X 720 Resolution, I will perform a test and note exactly what it does when mirroring the TV. Testing hardware will be Mac Mini, Gateway 1440x900 LCD, VIZIO 720P TV and a monoprice minidisplayport to HDMI adapter.
    – MrDaniel
    Mar 13, 2012 at 13:57

Try recording a smaller area, or shrinking the footage after recording. 720P is a 16:9 aspect ratio, whereas macs use 16:10 screens, so 1280 x 800 is the closest match

  • 1
    Recording a smaller area would be possible, but it's not ideal. I'd like to not have to worry about what's in the recording area and what's not. Shrinking the footage is out of the question - shrinking by 10% (800 to 720) results in everything being slightly blurry. Mar 13, 2012 at 7:13

I was able to do this with SwitchResX on my 13" MacBook Air running Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. The little utility lets you select from a very long list of common and not-so-common resolution sizes. 720P is among them.

Interestingly, I was able to use 1080P as well even though my display does not support a resolution that high. The quality seemed almost native to me (granted, I'm not a display junkie or a gamer), but everything was a bit too small for my liking.

I recorded a few screen-casts with ScreenFlow already and they come out a perfect 1280 x 720 pixels.


No external software is required to change the resolutions. Just click on the scaled option under display tab by holding the option key on the keyboard which shows all available 16:9(1280x720, 2560x1080, 1024x768) resolutions. https://youtu.be/U63_twpDCEo

enter image description here


Switchres allows you to change to lots more screen resolution than system preferences allows: http://www.madrau.com/


it could depend on what you are recording. if it is minecraft you can add a setting that it is 1280x720 pixels. you then record that using obs or crop it a bit using quicktime.

  • Welcome to Ask Different! Good answer, but please be more specific. And it would be helpful to include screenshots and/or the exact steps.
    – John K
    May 15, 2015 at 10:51

Try out QuickRes.

That seems to work.

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