I'm in the process of downloading a rather chunky iMovie update (1.89 GB), and I'm wondering if the "Retina support" described about the update is something my non-retina MacBook must have lingering around?

I, like pretty much every other person, have a non-retina Mac and are these unused retina graphics are going to be present as inactive redundancies of all interface files/graphics in all retina supporting apps?

  • Note that this is not really different from any other new hardware feature. 32-bit Macs got 64-bit code, too. PowerPC Macs got Intel code, too. Macs that don't have stereo speakers (like mine!) still get stereo audio resources.
    – Ken
    Jul 17, 2012 at 23:10
  • binaries and audio files are smaller in size than these retina graphics though =/
    – Alexander
    Jul 18, 2012 at 0:04
  • Whether that's true or not depends purely on the app. I looked at VLC just now, and it has well over 10 times the code (in bytes of 64-bit Intel dylibs) as it does bitmap images.
    – Ken
    Jul 18, 2012 at 18:25
  • Don't worry about it. You won't notice it. For example, most icons that Apple has shipped with Mac OS X have been huge (512x512 or even bigger) for years, long before retina displays. And it barely made a dent. And anyway, true HiDPI graphics will be vector graphics, which are significantly smaller than their bitmap counterparts.
    – asmeurer
    Oct 3, 2012 at 5:22

2 Answers 2


Yes, retina optimized apps will typically ship with both versions of graphics.

You can easily have a look at the retina graphic files yourself by viewing the package contents of the app. They should be located in AppName.app/Contents/Resources. At least for the Apple ones, the retina versions seem to have '@2x' appended to their base name, for example [email protected] is the retina version of badge-info-N.tiff.

While you probably could delete these files, it probably isn't a good idea as it will break the code signing, which in it's turns makes KeyChain access impossible without signing the code again, for example.

As to how much overhead or 'burden' the retina graphics are, I had a quick look at iPhoto.app (I don't have iMovie installed). In total, the retina graphics seems to add about 10% to the total app size (or in iPhoto's case, about 124MB). I think for a typical user, when most apps are retina-optimized (not sure when/if that will happen), this will not amount to more than 1GB in total.

  • The size difference in iPhoto was much more dramatic when I checked it. iMovie was even worse and I skipped the update as it didn't even list any other enhancements in the change log. It was more along the lines of being 2.5 times as big as before. There are a LOT of image assets in the iLife apps! Jun 19, 2012 at 11:39

Probably, if you ever poke around in an iPhone app you will see both the retina and non-retina graphics and resources, this would most likely be the approach Apple and third-party developers take. One app bundle means half the hosting costs, and no need to try and detect retina vs. non-retina in the App Store or on download pages. As a plus it allows you to copy the same app from a non-retina computer to a retina one and visa-versa.

  • 1
    i'm justing hoping an app like monolingual will find someway of clearing these retina resources, to save space on my precious ssd
    – Alexander
    Jun 18, 2012 at 4:30
  • 1
    @XAleXOwnZX, it be interesting to know how much space you'd actually be saving, I don't expect any dramatic results.
    – Gerry
    Jun 18, 2012 at 8:14
  • @Gerry Why not? Retina graphics at they peak will be at least double in pixel depth, which does not necessarily translate to 2x file size, but certainly it's at least 125%, and it's a duplication of ALL image assets. Jun 18, 2012 at 9:01
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    Most of the size of the app is usally used for code, texts etc., with only a small part needed for images. So even quadrupling the size of all images may increase the app size by 10-20% only.
    – nohillside
    Jun 18, 2012 at 9:21
  • @XAleXOwnZX I'd be flabbergasted if Monolingual didn't start to offer an option to toss Retina (or duplicate non-Retina) graphics at some point soon here.
    – Cajunluke
    Jun 18, 2012 at 20:47

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