Frequently asked questions about using a Retina display

Review frequently asked questions about using a Retina display.

Mac computers with a Retina display have a pixel density that is so high, your eyes can't discern individual pixels at a normal viewing distance. The Retina display packs four times the pixels of the standard MacBook Pro display, giving content incredible detail and dramatically improving the viewing experience. See the frequently asked questions below to learn more about using your Mac with a Retina display.

How do I adjust the resolution of my 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.
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015) displays have a 2304-by-1440 resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors.

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

Example of four scaled resolution choices:

Example of five scaled resolution choices:

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

What applications currently support the Retina display?

All Apple applications included with OS X Lion and later on your MacBook Pro with Retina display already support the Retina display. These applications include Mail, Safari, Calendar, Contacts, Messages, Maps, iBooks, FaceTime, Photo Booth, and TextEdit. Additionally, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, and Motion all support the Retina display.

I'm noticing functional or visual issues with an application. How can I make it work better?

Try opening the application using Low Resolution mode:

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

Note: You might also contact the developer of the application to determine if they offer an update to the application for the Retina display.

I notice that some applications have "Open in Low Resolution Mode" already enabled. It this normal?

Yes. Some applications work best using the Low Resolution mode. Other applications will only run in Low Resolution mode. You can try changing this setting by removing the checkmark in the Get Info window for the application. This may or may not be possible depending on the individual application. You may also contact the developer of the application to determine if they are offering an update to the application for the Retina display.

What happens when I use an external display with my 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 will 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 is not enabled, then you are 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.

I need a resolution for my external display that isn't on the list. Is there a way to get more resolutions?

Yes. Press and hold the Option key while clicking the Scaled button to see more resolutions. Note: If you are using OS X Lion or Mountain Lion, this is only available in extended desktop mode.

I'm using OS X Mavericks or Yosemite. Where did the Detect Displays button go?

You can find the Detect Displays button in the Displays section of System Preferences. Once there, press and hold the Option key to see the Detect Displays button in the lower-right corner. You can click this button to manually detect another display.

Are Windows 7 and 8 using Boot Camp supported on the Retina display?

Yes. You will need to download and install the Windows Support Software using the Boot Camp Assistant to use the Retina display with Windows 7 and 8. For more information see Note that Boot Camp supports resolutions up to 3840x2160.

Windows 7 starts up with a lot of space and small icons. Is this normal?

Yes. Using the Apple-supplied Windows Support Software, Windows starts up with the maximum dpi (pixels) it supports (144 dpi, or 150% magnification). This can be adjusted using the Windows Display Control Panel.

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