Dots per inch

How to Make Text and Other Items Bigger or Smaller on Your Mac’s Retina Display

For decades, people with vision problems have adjusted their system resolution to make things like text and interface elements bigger. This is a terrible idea, because it distorts basically everything on your screen. If your Mac offers a Retina display, the System Preferences offers a better way.

Instead of changing the system’s resolution, macOS can scale things like interface elements and text, allowing photos and other graphics to still take full advantage of the display’s native resolution. It’s somewhat akin to the DPI scaling on Windows 10, but a lot less confusing.

How to Adjust Your Mac’s Display Scaling

To explore these settings, head to System Preferences > Display.

Under “Resolution,” check the “Scaled” option. You’ll be presented with four to five choices, depending on the size of your screen.

I’m using a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels. I’m presented with four options, all of which “look like” a hypothetical resolution on a previous-generation Mac. The default, for example, “looks like” 1440 by 900 pixels, which you can see by hovering your mouse pointer over the option.

The two options below the default “look like” 1280 by 800 and 1024 by 640, as I work my way down. The option above the default “looks like” 1680 by 1050.

These numbers are somewhat arbitrary, in that they are related to how previous-generation Macs looked at particular resolutions. The precise choices offered will vary depending on your specific Mac model. And to be clear, your system resolution doesn’t actually change if you choose a different setting: just the scaling of things like text and interface elements will change. The result is similar to changing resolution on older Macs, but without the visual distortions.

Are you wondering what this looks like? Well, here’s my desktop set to the default setting, which “looks like” 1440 by 900 pixels.

And here it is when I choose the “More Space” option, which “looks like” 1680 by 1050 pixels:

As you can see, the browser window takes up a lot less space on my desktop now, and the menu bar looks quite a bit smaller. If you have good eyesight, this setting can make your Mac’s display feel quite a bit bigger, allowing you to have more things on the screen at once.

Going the…

How to Make Windows Work Better on High-DPI Displays and Fix Blurry Fonts

High pixel density displays are now common on new Windows PCs, just as they are on smartphones, tablets, and Macs. But be careful what you wish for—many desktop apps still have problems on high-DPI displays.

Windows has offered DPI scaling support for long time, but many Windows desktop applications never took advantage of it. Microsoft is working on the problem, however, and so are many app developers. In the meantime here are some settings you can change to make applications look better.

Upgrade to Windows 10

Windows 7 is still perfectly fine for many things, but it’s not fine on high-DPI displays. Windows 7 was never built for these super high resolution displays, and using them with Windows 7 will be a struggle. Microsoft dramatically improved high-DPI support with Windows 8, and Windows 10 is even better. Microsoft hasn’t stood still since releasing Windows 10, either. Updates like Windows 10’s Creators Update continue to add improvements to high-DPI scaling.

If you’re trying to use a high-DPI display with Windows 7, we highly recommend you upgrade to Windows 10. There are still ways to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, if you’re eligible.

Adjust Your Display Scaling Settings

If your laptop, convertible, or tablet came with a high-density display, Windows 10 will automatically choose an appropriate display scaling setting for it. However, you may want to adjust this setting yourself to make items appear larger and more readable, or make elements appear smaller so you have more screen real estate.

To change this setting on Windows 10, head to Settings > System > Display. Change the option under “Scale and layout” to your preferred setting. If you have multiple displays connected to your PC, you can select them at the top of this page and configure separate scaling levels for each. The ideal setting will depend on your the display and your eyes, so feel free to experiment. You can also click “Custom scaling” and set a custom percentage value between 100% and 500% from here, but Microsoft recommends you choose one of the default options in the list for maximum compatibility with applications.

NOTE: if you have trouble adjusting these settings, you may…