It's been two weeks now since I got my new retina and I find it awesome.

I'm a frontend developer so I need a lot of screen estate to get things done in a good fashion and the way I was used to.

My big conundrum is this:

When I am at "Best for Retina" everything is big, clear sharp, etcetera. At the office or at home I usually have a external monitor which makes things better, but when I want to use only the mac display for the development I have the following issues:

  • best for retina is to small to get things done (can't even see properly the google developer tools bar)

  • using setresX I am changing my resolution to 2048x1020, that seems to be the best resolution that makes the compromise between the size of the display and how big the items are on screen. The drawback is that EVERYTHING is blurry

  • that is because the default non-Retina resolution of this mac is 2880x1800, on that resolution everything looks sharp, but it is incredibly small, my eyes hurt and I shed tears after 10minutes of usage.

(I'm not talking about other best for retina resolutions because they decrease the performance heavily, and it is annoying in its own way.)

So, what I was thinking is to leave the display at 2880x1800 but increase the system's font size, I think that would do the trick, would it?

Other similar threads are also present but none discuss this exact issue,

How can we make the 2880x1800px resolution usable on this 15" screen?

Please come up with some ideas, I'm about to try TinkerTool (http://www.bresink.com/osx/TinkerTool.html) to increase the font-size, but I don't know if it's a good solution yet.

I'll come with some possible options, up until then please come with some feedback of your own.

Thanks, Arthur.

  • Yea ... 'Tinkering' with the fonts was a total failure ... Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 12:57
  • ACtually I think that changing the font size on a per app settings would get the job done, I just set my default zoom level in Chrome to 150% and the pages look ok, also the web dveloper toolbar obeys the same font size too. Also in Sublime text editor the zoom works fine too. Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


I would suggest just to use the "more space" 1920x1200 in System Preferences.

From what I can see, options in System Preferences has been tweaked to look better than to just change the resolution with some tools like SetResX or DisplayMenu.

If you don't like 1920x1200, and really want to get smaller, your only option will be 2880x1800. Everything will look small. But you will get used to it.

You might need a larger cursor, that option can be found under Accessibility in System Preferences.

Any other apps you want to have them look nicer, you will need to do it on a per-app basis, font size, zoom, etc.

But it won't be as good as the options under System Preferences, basically, if you have 2880x1800 as your resolution, and have everything 50% larger, that will be 1920x1200. So there's really no point to refuse it. Also Boot Camp defaults to 1800p with a 150% dpi.

The bottom line is, the options built-in are tweaked, you won't get anything better than those. Stick to it. As a fellow developer, I always choose 1200p or 1050p when doing UI designs. Go back to 900p when coding.

  • I know this probably doesn't answer your question, but give it a try, you'll get used to it. 15" laptops are not desktop replacements for a reason. But these are good laptops, and one can get a lot out of it! Cheers!
    – Shane Hsu
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 17:31
  • Actually I did something else. At first I tried native 2880x1800, I made the font bigger increased the zoom, but still certain elements were SOOOO small, I got pisssed, and what I did next, was to switch to BEST FOR RETINA, and I zoomed out all the pages, so the developer toolbar can fit, sublime text work BEST on best for retina, but ui development is really bad, like this, I can still see the developer toolbar, and the entire page. Anyhow, I still have found a stable solution here :) Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 21:00

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