Retina Laptop Tips for a Non-Retina World

Retina Laptop Tips for a Non-Retina World

Joelle Alcaidinho
Jul 18, 2012

Congrats, you're the proud owner of a shiny new MacBook Pro, complete with the crystal clear Retina display. Have you opened up your favorite pieces of software on it yet? Browsed the web? We'll wait. Ok, how does everything look? Not quite what you thought it would be, eh? Well, take a look at these tips for helping to bring everything back into focus.

Tips for Adapting to a Non-Retina World With a Retina Display:

1. Check Your Display Settings.
As with any display, you have quite a few options. The selection of these options becomes quite important when it comes to just how large, small, sharp, and fuzzy things look on your shiny new display. While I personally prefer the "Best for Retina," friends who need to simulate how things will look on a lower res display, or prefer to maximize their screen real-estate, choose other options. To select options other than "Best for Retina," select Scaled and pick your poison.

2. Get Chrome Canary.
You have probably noticed, if you fired up a browser other than Safari, just how horrible text and pretty much everything else looks on the screen. To have text on the web have the fancy schmancy Retina-ready look, you must use a browser that uses the Apple API to draw text (same goes for apps & software). My two favorites are Safari and Chrome Canary. Since Canary is on the bleeding edge, several things are still a wee bit broken (like Google Maps). However, it has proven itself fairly stable, fast, and beautiful enough for most of what I do, and it has won my heart. I feel about Canary like I did about Chrome when it first arrived on the Mac. While changing your browser won't do anything for all of the low-res graphics out there, it can at least make text (that's not in an image) wonderfully sharp.

3. Go High Res.
Opened Pages, Numbers, and Keynote and were surprised at how low res they looked? You need to tell these apps to not open in low res mode. While I wish that it was this easy for all apps (I'm looking at you, Office 2011), all you need to do for these is "Get Info" on the app in Finder, and uncheck "Open in Low Resolution." While not everything will be rendered crisply with this unchecked, it does look much, much better, and is still light years sharper than Word.

4. Change Your Apps.
While some developers have been quick to update their software/apps, this is not the case across the board. I tried working with Word and the official Twitter app but was getting headaches since it looked as if I forgot my glasses! If you're like me and can't tolerate the fuzzy text in the Twitter app, get Twitterrific or Tweetbot. I've been quite happy with the public alpha of Tweetbot, and I doubt I'll change back to the 'ole Twitter once it has been updated. Moral of the story, if your apps don't look great, check for updates, and if they lack Retina-ready updates, consider other options — your eyes will thank you.

What are your favorite apps that look great and work well on a Retina display?

(Image: Joelle Alcaidinho)

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