Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

Mac on 27" 4K microscopic menu items

PossiblyUsefulProbablyNot

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 19, 2018
2
0
Canada
tldr: is there some way to use my 4K monitor at native resolution but make OS components (menus, etc.) reasonably large, the way Windows and Linux can?

I have a 2017 Macbook Pro and I just got a beautiful new LG 27UK650-W 27" 4K monitor to pair with my Dell U2713 (2560x1440). I first hooked the LG up to my Win 10 desktop - beautiful, crisp, just awesome.

Next I tried my Macbook with LG, using the included HDMI cable and everything on screen looked really large. No problem, after digging through some really non-intuitive system preferences I discover "Scaled" was set to 1920x1080 by default, so I switched it to 3840x2160 (inexplicably labeled as "low resolution"?) and... yowza. Everything was comically small. Menu items and most GUI features are borderline microscopic and quite unusable, but it seemed like my only options were that or just treat my (rather expensive) 4K monitor like a plain 1080p monitor. Huh?

After a *lot* of googling, I came across a suggestion in this forum to hold down Option while clicking the Scaled radio button (yet another absurdly unintuitive Macos feature). That lets me choose 2560x1440, which gives sort of reasonable sizing for on screen items, but everything is kind of blurry because it's literally using 2560x1440 instead of the monitors native 3840x2160, which is just stupid. That means if I'm editing a picture I literally only have 2560x1440 to work with instead of 3840x2160 - why would I do that?

This seems so obviously stupid I assumed I must be missing something, yet no amount of searching has turned up a solution. Do I need a third party utility (and is there one?) Linux has a nice solution to this. Windows 10 has a nice (if occasionally flakey) solution to this. The builtin Macbook screen has 2880x1800 resolution and the OS makes menu items, etc. a reasonable size. Am I missing something here?

If I'm not - how is anyone using 4K displays with their Mac? I can't believe anyone realistically uses these microscopic menus, icons, etc., so is everyone else just using 4K monitors at 1920x1080?

Someone please explain to me how I'm being an idiot.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,451
7,255
You can't make the menu larger when running in "true 4k" (pixel-for-pixel) mode.
That's "just the way it is".

Run it in HiDPI mode (which is how its intended to be run).
Then it will look much more "normal" and better.
 
Comment

PossiblyUsefulProbablyNot

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 19, 2018
2
0
Canada
I appreciate the reply Fishrrman, but I'm still pretty confused. If I choose "Default for display", I know the Mac is outputting 3840x2160, but it appears to be using 4 actual pixels for each "virtual" pixel, so that as far as I can tell my nearly $700 LG 4K monitor is transformed into a 1920x1080 monitor I could've bought for <$200, with theoretically smoother letters (although I can't see the difference).

I just tried opening an image which is exactly 3840x2160 in both SnagIt and Preview and zoomed to 100% (actual pixels) and I clearly only actually have 1920x1080. WTF?

I'm really curious - for those of you with 4K monitors on Macs - is that how you use them? I can't believe graphics oriented people use a 4K monitor at 1920x1080 in Photoshop - that would be completely bonkers... right?

Thanks again
 
Comment

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,451
7,255
"If I choose "Default for display", I know the Mac is outputting 3840x2160, but it appears to be using 4 actual pixels for each "virtual" pixel, so that as far as I can tell my nearly $700 LG 4K monitor is transformed into a 1920x1080 monitor"

Actually, that's the way it's supposed to work with the Mac OS.

That's what "HiDPI" mode (or what Mac users refer to as "4k") is all about.

If you want to view the image in "full-4k" (that is, pixel-for-pixel), it's going to look as you originally described. VERY tiny menu, VERY tiny fonts, etc.

Quite frankly, "that's the way things are on a Mac".

Don't know what else to tell you...
 
Comment

sh00t1ngf1sh

macrumors newbie
Jan 5, 2019
4
0
but everything is kind of blurry because it's literally using 2560x1440 instead of the monitors native 3840x2160, which is just stupid. That means if I'm editing a picture I literally only have 2560x1440 to work with instead of 3840x2160 - why would I do that?

You wouldn't do that. But I am in the same boat as you, it's just the way macOSX does it and the only way we can do it. Basically you have just spend the money on e.g. a 32" 4k screen where you could have just bought a 32" 2k screen as you would be using the same 2k resolution on both screens.

MacOSX won't enlarge the GUI/menu items separately from the content, whereas Windows will enlarge the GUI, text, menus 150% so you can read menus and word documents, but keep the photos and movies the same scale at 100%...mostly, when it works properly without blurring the menus in legacy programs.

It's sort of how apple did 'reintented' video call with facetime when the whole world was using video call for the last 6 years.

Then they reinvented 4K resolution by calling it Hi-DPI

I think for yourself 4k at 27" is impossible in OSX, windows will be better. 4k on mac osx on 32" is actually OK but does strain the eyes a little bit, not usable long term either, so I'm having to run at 2k like yourself.

It's just like 4K content, fairly hard to find. 4K is really only good for putting two windows side by side like wordpress lol.
 
Comment

splifingate

macrumors 6502
Nov 27, 2013
474
327
ATL
"I can't believe graphics oriented people use a 4K monitor at 1920x1080 in Photoshop - that would be completely bonkers... right?"

[...]

"...(although I can't see the difference)..."

I have no idea how old your eyes are, but mine /do/ notice the crispness and clarity when viewing 1920x1080 on my dual 4K's ;)

Truly, I share your concern wrt/UI in OS X (large-font + screen-space with pixel-density), but the perceived clarity of the display actually gives me a very large ROI.

FWIW, my win10 system on the same monitor (I have the Dell connected to the 2nd display for when I need to spend time there) is just as clear, and I am not left any more wanting on either System.

My real estate is more than sufficient, but I *can* up the rez (at any time) . . . something I cannot do with a strictly-1080p display.

All that being said, I have yearned for years the display real estate I currently have, and I now initially cringe when I connect to my 1440p ACD, or (*gasp*) my other (1600x1200, et al.) displays from years-ago <smile>

Regards, splifingate
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.