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.