How to Enable HiDPI ‘Retina’ Graphics on a Non-Retina Mac

Posted in How To, OS X on 30/01/2013 by J. Glenn Künzler

18s

Apple has already begun the process of bringing Retina graphics to their non-Retina Macs – but for many users (or developers testing Retina apps), the process isn’t happening nearly fast enough! There is a way to get a taste of what Retina graphics would look like on your Mac ahead of time, however – and Apple has provided instructions for exactly how to enable Retina graphics on your non-Retina Mac!

Retina MacBook Air

Before you can enable HiDPI (‘Retina’) mode, you must download and install Xcode from the Mac App Store. Once you have Xcode, you’ll need to install Quartz Debug. To download Quartz Debug

  1. Open Xcode.
  2. Choose Xcode > Open Developer Tool > More Developer Tools.. Choosing this item will take you to developer.apple.com.image: ../Art/gettools_2x.png
  3. Sign in to developer.apple.com. You should then see the Downloads for Apple Developers webpage.
  4. Download the Graphics Tools for Xcode package, which contains Quartz Debug.

Once you have successfully installed Quartz Debug, you’re ready to enable HiDPI modes on your Mac. Here’s how it’s done:
To enable high-resolution display modes

  1. Launch Quartz Debug.
  2. Choose UI Resolution from the Window menu.
  3. Select “Enable HiDPI display modes”.
  4. Log out and then log in to have the change take effect. This updates the Resolutions list in System Preferences.
  5. Open System Preferences > Displays, and choose a resolution that is marked as HiDPI.

Now that you’ve completed all of the steps, you’re ready to start checking out Retina graphics on your non-Retina Mac! Enjoy!

For more helpful tips, check out our full collection of tutorials by visiting our How-To category!


  • The Resolutions are the same. why wont the HiDPI SHow up?

    • Yes, you’re right. Where is the HiDPI J.Glenn?

    • Podge

      HiDPI isn’t showing up?

    • You have to select the “Enable HiDPI Display Modes” toggle, and then logout and back in before the new resolutions will appear.

  • Oliver

    It works, but why would I want to go from 2560×1440 to 1280×720 HiDPI?

    • Mostly useful for testing and previewing Retina-size images.

    • Edward

      It works for my iMac. i’m only getting 960×540 HiDPI. I get the idea now. you won’t get 2560X1440 HiDPI it’s because your Mac display hardware limit to 720 HiDPI.

  • Graham Gibson

    Completed all the steps and I’m not getting it =/ – running ML 13″ MBP

  • Kurt Kaufhold

    I followed the instructions and this is what my display settings look like. Am I doing something wrong?

  • Paul

    Does this work on 2011 13″ Macbook Pro?

  • Jazz

    This doesnt work!! Waste of time!

  • Cool!

  • Dee

    This doesnt work at all.

  • paulpod

    Cant find Downloads for apple developers webpage anywhere

  • AJAX

    the only HiDPI I’m getting is 960×600 (HiDPI) Why would I go to that instead of 1920×1200? Am I missing something?

    • This can’t magically increase the physical resolution of your screen. HiDPI mode puts two physical pixels behind every virtual pixel. So on a 1920×1200 screen it acts like you have a virtual 960×600 screen.

  • Joe Ronald Flórez Rada

    Where do I put Graphics Tools on Xcode 4.6? Please help

Author

J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he’s up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor’s house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.