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Packed Pixels HiDPI Retina using SwitchResX

On OS X the Packed Pixels display won't automatically show up as "Retina" or "HiDPI" resolution, instead the OS will use the full resolution of the display making everything tiny. This can be changed using the 3rd party app (non-free) SwitchResX.

First, download SwitchResX.

You can play with the resolutions for the Packed Pixels which is probably listed as Color LCD (2). However not all of the HiDPI resolutions work due to an OS X bug. If you are happy with any of the ones that do work then stop here, else continue.

If you're on El Capitan or later you need to disable System Integrity Protection (temporarily) to add a custom resolution for Packed Pixels. Follow the instructions from SwitchResX creator.

Now add a Custom Resolution that is "scaled". It must be 2 pixels bigger or smaller than the native resolution in one direction (this is the OS X quirk). I found bigger makes it slightly blurry so go with smaller—I chose "2046x1536". Hit cmd+s or File => Save. Then reboot.

Once rebooted start SwitchResX again and choose the resolution you created in the Current Resolutions tab. Note it will be halved! So in my case it's 1023x768.

If all looks good you can turn on System Integrity Protection again (recommended). For me at least this procedure resulted in a beautiful clear picture on the Packed Pixels, just what I'd hoped.

@sfcgeorge

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sfcgeorge commented Dec 9, 2015

screen shot 2015-12-09 at 15 35 07

screen shot 2015-12-09 at 15 35 01

@omega

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omega commented Dec 30, 2015

Hey, awesome information, thanks for sharing it. I'm having some trouble with rotating though, it blanks both screens and the only way out of that is a hard power off (holding the power button down for 4 seconds). Do you experience similar problems with rotating?

@chrismcband

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chrismcband commented Jan 20, 2016

Thanks so much for this information. I was disappointed the packed pixels weren't showing up as a retina display. The native resolution is virtually unusable with text appearing so small. Thanks to your guide I have a usable retina screen!

@simpl321

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simpl321 commented Jan 25, 2017

Save my life! Thank you so much for sharing this information. It is really useful for those mac users who have bought packed pixels.
Now my second screen looks superb with high resolution.

@KoCMoHaBTa

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KoCMoHaBTa commented Apr 7, 2017

Wow, this works like a charm under macOS Sierra :)

@jadolfbr

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jadolfbr commented Jan 17, 2018

Works great on macOS High Sierra too! Looks Beautiful!

@vesper8

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vesper8 commented Feb 9, 2018

I'm on High Sierra and I was able to add the custom resolution for only one of my two panels. For the other panel I've added it but it keeps saying "not installed", even after I rebooted. I've also made sure SIP is disabled.

But in any case, the 1024x768 resolution seems to work just fine.. which makes me question what the fuss is about with creating one that lets you do 1023x768

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