Using a Retina display

Learn more about the Retina display that's built into your Mac.

Retina displays have a pixel density that's so high, your eyes can't discern individual pixels at a normal viewing distance. This gives content incredible detail and dramatically improves your viewing experience.

Mac computers with Retina display

These Mac computers come with a built-in Retina display:

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012) and later displays have a 2560-by-1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors.
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012) and MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013) and later displays have a 2880-by-1800 native resolution at 220 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors.
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014) and later displays have a 5120-by-2880 native resolution with support for millions of colors.
  • iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, Late 2015) displays have a 4096-by-2304 native resolution with support for millions of colors.
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015) displays have a 2304-by-1440 resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors.

Adjust the resolution of your Retina display

If you need to adjust the resolution of your display, choose System Preferences from the Apple menu. The Retina display offers scaled resolutions. These allow you to have text and objects appear larger and more visible, or smaller, which provides more space for windows and apps. Your Mac will show either four or five scaled resolution options depending on the model.

Example of four scaled resolution choices:Retina Display Preferences

Example of five scaled resolution choices:Retina Display Preferences iMac

Retina displays use scaled resolutions rather than the specific resolution settings that external displays use. If you need to use a different resolution than those available on the built-in display, attach an external display via HDMI, Thunderbolt, or DisplayPort.

Thunderbolt is not compatible with MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015).

Apps that support the Retina display

All Apple apps included with OS X v10.7 Lion and later support the Retina display. These apps include Mail, Safari, Calendar, Contacts, Messages, Maps, iBooks, FaceTime, Photo Booth, and TextEdit.

Additionally, Photos, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, and Motion all support the Retina display.

Open apps in Low Resolution mode

If you notice that an app looks different than you expect on your Retina display, try opening the app using Low Resolution mode:

  1. Quit the app if it's open.
  2. In the Finder, choose Applications from the Go menu.
  3. In the Applications folder that opens, click the app's icon so it's highlighted.
  4. Choose Get Info from the File menu.
  5. Place a checkmark next to "Open in Low Resolution"
    Open in Low Resolution
  6. Close the window and open the app again.

You can also contact the developer of the application to see if they offer an update to the application for the Retina display.

If an app already has Low Resolution mode enabled

Some apps that work best in Low Resolution mode or only run in Low Resolution mode will have this option checked.

You can try changing this setting by removing the checkmark in the Get Info window for the app, but this might not be possible. If this is the case, contact the developer of the app to see if they offer an update to the app for the Retina display.

Using an external display with your Retina display Mac

If your MacBook, MacBook Pro, or iMac has a Retina display, it automatically optimizes the resolution for the internal Retina display and any external displays that you attach. You can adjust resolutions for displays by choosing System Preferences from the Apple menu and then clicking Displays.

If you have Mirror Displays enabled (under the Arrangement tab in Displays System Preferences), you'll see an "Optimize for" pop-up menu in the Display tab on both internal and external displays. This allows you to optimize for the internal or external display, or even scale the content on both.

If Mirror Displays isn't enabled, then you're using Extended Desktop mode. In this case, you can set resolutions individually for each display. Check the Display System Preferences window that has the description for the display you want to adjust on the top of the window (there will be a unique preferences window for each display). Adjust as necessary.
Thunderbolt Display Prefs

Get more resolutions for your external display

You can see more resolution options for your external display by holding down the Option key while clicking the Scaled button.

If you're using OS X v10.7 Lion or OS X v10.8 Mountain Lion, this is only available in extended desktop mode.

Find the Detect Displays button in newer versions of OS X

In OS X Mavericks v10.9 or later, you can find the Detect Displays button by going to the Displays section of System Preferences. Once there, hold down the Option key to see the Detect Displays button in the lower-right corner. You can click this button to manually detect another display.

Windows and Boot Camp support for Retina display

To use the Retina display with Windows 7, 8, and 10, you'll need to download and install the Windows Support Software using the Boot Camp Assistant. Learn more about Boot Camp Support.

Note that Boot Camp supports resolutions up to 3840-by-2160.

Adjust the Retina display pixel density in Windows

Using the Apple-supplied Windows Support Software, Windows starts up with the maximum dpi (pixels) it supports (144 dpi, or 150% magnification). As a result, items on the display appear small with a lot of space. You can adjust this setting using the Windows Display Control Panel.

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