How to change a Mac's screen resolution

In this tutorial, Macworld's Roman Loyola shows each step towards customizing the screen resolution to a setting that you prefer.

Customize the screen

By default, you Mac’s display runs at its native resolution, which is the resolution the display is designed for. Image quality tends to look the best at native resolution, but you might find it too small or otherwise inadequate for your use.

Fortunately, it’s easy to change the screen resolution. In this tutorial, I’ll show you each step towards customizing the screen resolution to a setting that you prefer. I’ll also show how to set up your Mac so you can quickly switch between resolution settings. This tutorial is done using Mac OS X 10.6.6.

Step 1: Open the system preferences

To change the display resolution, you need to modify the Displays setting in your system preferences. Open the system preferences, and click on Displays, which is located in the Hardware section.

Step 2: Select a resolution

A list of screen resolutions appears on the left. The last resolution listed is the native resolution. When you select a resolution, your display will automatically change to it. You can keep selecting a resolution until you find the one you want.

Step 3: Displays in menu bar

If you want to be able to quickly change resolutions, you can have the Displays system preference appear as an icon in your menu bar. To activate this, check the box next to Show Displays in Menu Bar in the Displays system preference.

When you’re satisfied with your Displays settings, close it to save.

Step 4: Use the menu bar

If you decided to activate Show Displays in Menu Bar, you’ll see an icon that looks like an older Apple display in the upper right menu bar. Click on it, and you’ll see a list of recently used resolutions for each display connected to your Mac. You can use this to switch between resolutions. If you click on Number of Recent Items, you can change the number of resolutions listed for each display; the maximum is 10.