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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2019
I just purchased the new 13inch MacBook Air.

It has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 according to specs, but when I got to Settings > Display, the maximum option I can choose is "More Space" which says its "1680 x 1050"

Am I doing something wrong or am I just not understanding how these modern retina displays work. Happy to be educated.

Of if there is a way to get higher resolution (so everything is just a bit smaller) then I'd love to know how.



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Feb 17, 2008
Fort Worth, Texas
Am I doing something wrong or am I just not understanding how these modern retina displays work. Happy to be educated.

You're not doing anything wrong. That's the way retina displays work. I'm not good at explaining it but I'm sure one of our more informed members can explain how the resolution of a retina display differs from that of a non retina one.
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macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
2560x1600 is the physical resolution. That is, the number of pixels physically on the display.

1680x1050 is the software resolution, which is really 3360x2100, double the horizontal and vertical resolution. This is because each pixel in 1680x1050 is rendered as four, instead of just one as it would be on a traditional non-Retina display. This is what keeps everything the same size as it is on a non-Retina display, but with much more detail and sharpness. It's equivalent to increasing the DPI on a printout to get sharper text and graphics.


Because 3360x2100 is higher than the physical resolution of 2560x1600, it is then downsampled to fit on the display. That means each physical pixel corresponds to roughly 1.3 software pixels, and you lose some sharpness because pixels in close proximity must be blurred together. You fix this by setting it to 1280x800, which doubled is 2560x1600, matching the physical resolution of your display.

Mr. Zarniwoop

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2005
@maerz001 I had already purchased end of June.

I don't think there is too many differences with the new model is there? Same resolution

They are identical except for three items:

- 2019 added True Tone technology automatically adjusts the white point of the display to match the color temperature of your environment
- 2019 changed up to 1TB of SSD (down from 2018 up to 1.5TB of SSD)
- 2019 updated third-generation butterfly keyboard design with an updated material as the higher-end 2019 MacBook Pro models introduced in May


macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
Thanks for explaining @redheeler, I really appreciate that and now I understand why. That explains it then. Case closed.
There are software tricks, however, if you want to use the display panel's native resolution at a 1:1 pixel map. Text and icons, however, will be very small (equivalent of a non-retina 27" monitor crammed down to 13").

SwitchRes X is one such app that will allow you to select alternate display modes not ordinarily accessible through MacOS's control panel.


macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2020

Hi i am using a macbook pro 13" 2017 right now with 2560 x 1600 native resolution (everything is very tiny!) using RDM, which you can download from here:

the program has two version 2.1 and 2.2

this is the sourceforge site:

as a bonus feature you can set the display to resolutions higher than native also (the physical pixels on the screen, but then you get interpolation artefacts etc)

its really stupid that apple have not made it possible to just change the software resolution to the native physical screen resolution. just why........

thankfully developers out there made software like RDM and SwitchResX

On windows its easy to set the resolution to whatever, and if you have an nVidia graphics card you can use DSR (dynamic super resolution) factors to take the resolution past the native screen resolution (but you get interpolation there also)
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