Apple releases Retina Display FAQ

Apple's new FAQ covers several key details about using the Retina Display alone, with external monitors, and with alternative operating systems.

Apple's new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, despite shying away from repairability and upgradability , has incorporated several big advancements. Some of these include the shift to Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 communications, but the true advancement in the new system is its high-resolution Retina Display that offers about four times the resolution of the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro .

While the new Retina Display produces very smooth text and images, it also requires specific support both in the OS and in the applications being run on the system, which can require various workarounds if you use programs and services that do not support the new display. To help you understand some of these limitations and workarounds, Apple has released a new FAQ on the Retina Display that discusses them in detail.

While much of the FAQ discusses how to manage resolutions and various Apple-supplied applications, it also covers some problems that users might run into:

  1. Visual artifacts or other visual issues with applications
    Even if programs are updated to work with the new display, bugs or other problems might result in odd-looking interface elements that may hinder the use of the program. If this happens, Apple suggests you try quitting and relaunching the program, and also try opening the program in low-resolution mode. To do this, locate the application file in the Applications folder, get information on it, and then check the "Open in Low Resolution" option. This should allow the program to run properly until a fix can be found for the higher-resolution mode.
  2. Use native resolutions, if possible
    The high pixel density of the Retina Display allows for a number of different resolutions, which Apple has made available visually instead of providing specific number-based resolution settings such as "1,920x1,200." In the Displays system preferences you can choose the option for the native Retina resolution which is four of the Retina Display pixels for each conventional pixel, or you can choose to render at different ratios to increase or decrease the size of items on screen. Apple recommends you use the Retina option for most uses as this will be the most compatible one, especially as programs get updated to use the new display.

    One option that Apple doesn't discuss is running at a 1-to-1 pixel ratio with the Retina Display, which would effectively quadruple the work space area from the previous-generation MacBook Pro model (albeit at the cost of making display elements very small). While this may not be the best option for some people, others might find it useful, and it can be done in several ways, which Mac blog OS X Daily has outlined.
  3. External display problems
    The new MacBook's resolution settings may not work well with different external display setups. As with prior systems, if you mirror the MacBook and the external monitor (such as for presentations), then you will have to choose which display you would like to look cleanest. Apple provides the option of making the image look best for the external display or best for the Retina Display, so if you are presenting something then the external display option will likely be best. If you need addition display options, you can hold the Option key while selecting the Scaled setting, to reveal more resolutions than the two "Best for" options.
  4. Boot Camp and multiboot environments
    A final something to think about when using the new MacBook systems is if you need to run a secondary operating system on them. While Apple provides Boot Camp support for Windows 7 and offers support for the Retina Display with its Boot Camp drivers, some people have unique setups where they run Linux as well. Unfortunately Apple only provides drivers for Windows, so these other operating systems will likely special attention in order to properly use the display. If you run into problems using different operating systems with the Retina Display, then you can try using then in a virtual machine, which in running within OS X should properly interface the guest OS with the display.


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About the author

    Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.

     

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