Mac display: View the full list of adjustable resolutions

You can specify different resolutions in the macOS system settings for the built-in displays of iMac and MacBook as well as for external screens on Mac, Mac mini, Mac Studio, etc. and for Apple's displays. By default, however, you are only shown a selection of five symbols that indicate the size of the text displayed or the usable interface. However, this does not always represent the entire range of possible display resolutions on the Mac. Depending on the built-in screen or connected monitor, you can set a lot more and thus the display of Apps, menus and other content to suit your needs.

In the Mac System Preferences, only five ready-made options are usually displayed for the integrated and connected displays. However, these only show a fraction of the available display resolutions under macOS.
In the Mac System Preferences, only five ready-made options are usually displayed for the integrated and connected displays. However, these only show a fraction of the available display resolutions under macOS.

View the full list of Mac screen resolutions

On the Mac, iMac, MacBook and the respective sub-models you can set different pixel resolutions for the integrated and connected screens. The maximum does not always have to be used, after all, symbols, menus, text and other content are very small. But even the minimum is not always advantageous, since it not only makes everything very large and fills the screen, but also media such as videos and photos can no longer be played back in high resolution. To find the perfect “in between” for you, proceed as follows:

  1. Click on the top left of the menu bar Apple logo () and then click the System settings ...
  2. Click the dot in the list on the left Displays an
  3. Select the display you want to customize in the top right corner (if multiple are used)
  4. Right-click (or two-finger on trackpad) one or more of the indicator icons in between, then left-click (one finger on trackpad) click View List
  5. If it's showing, enable the "Show All Resolutions" slider
Right click/secondary click on the row with the resolution icons. Now you can click on "Show list". This paves the way for your perfect display resolution on the Apple Mac.
Right click/secondary click on the row with the resolution icons. Now you can click on “Show list”. This paves the way for your perfect display resolution on the Apple Mac.
If you then activate the slider for the "Show all resolutions" option, you can choose from a large list of display resolutions. Depending on the system functions, programs, games or media used, different pixel combinations can be worthwhile.
If you then activate the slider for the "Show all resolutions" option, then you can use a large list of display resolutions. Depending on the system functions, programs, games or media used, different pixel combinations can be worthwhile.

A total of 2021 resolutions are offered for the display in the 16 Apple MacBook Pro with a 22-inch display. Of course, you don't need all of them in everyday life. Even if you do different things on the Mac (office work, play video games, make tutorials, image editing, produce music, etc.), you don't need all 22 resolutions and pixel values. However, you can click through the list and see which setting is useful for which work or hobby. You can then switch between the two or three useful ones accordingly.

The highest resolution of modern displays only makes sense for special applications

I use my 16 inch MacBook Pro from 2021 M1 Pro mainly for office work. This includes word processing, spreadsheets, image editing, using the settings and other menus, and various apps. The default resolution for the built-in Liquid Retina XDR display is selected, namely 1.728 x 1.117 pixels, is very suitable for this. A higher resolution only makes sense to me if I'm in iMovie or GarageBand with different video or audio tracks and want to keep a complete overview of the preview, effects, instruments, loops, etc.

I will probably only set the maximum resolution of 3.456x2.234 pixels when I play a high-resolution video game or watch a 4K film. But with Netflix and Co. I've only used the 1080p streams of films and series so far, so it's not necessary to adjust the screen resolution. However, I can imagine that the high resolution can be useful for professional photo and video editing in particular. Not only to view all window content from Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Affinity Photo, Final Cut Pro or similar, but also to be able to work with pixel accuracy in high-resolution content.

Long screen resolution list also for third-party devices

When I work on the MacBook Pro, I not only use its integrated display, but also a monitor connected via HDMI. This is the now outdated HP Pavilion 22cw with 1.920 x 1.080 pixels (Full HD) as the maximum resolution. This fits quite well, but can also be customized using the method shown above. If I activate the “Show all resolutions” slider for this screen, 19 resolutions are displayed, some with HiDPI options.

The selection of adjustable resolutions on the HP Pavilion 22cw with Full HD display, which is connected to the Apple MacBook Pro 2021 via HDMI.
The selection of adjustable resolutions on the HP Pavilion 22cw with Full HD display, which is connected to the Apple MacBook Pro 2021 via HDMI.

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2 Responses to "Mac display: View full list of adjustable resolutions"

  1. Excellent. Thanks. Used it on my iMac 24 right away in the photo app.
    Thanks for the precise descriptions and very good tips.
    I look forward to the informative newsletter every week.

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.

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