Mac Gems: Eye-Friendly is a handy resolution switcher for Retina MacBooks

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At a Glance
  • Jörg Jacobsen Eye-Friendly 1.0

Jörg Jacobsen’s $5 Eye-Friendly (Mac App Store link) is the third resolution-switching utility for the Retina MacBook Pro that I’ve looked at, after Pupil (4.0-mouse rating) and QuickRes (4.0-mouse rating). In my quest to find the ideal resolution-switching app for my Retina MacBook Pro, is the third app the charm?

Eye-Friendly’s menu on a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro

Like the other two apps, Eye-Friendly appears only in the menu bar. When you want to change your display’s resolution, you click the Eye-Friendly icon and mouse over your display (the menu lists your laptop’s built-in display, as well as any external displays); a submenu appears with available resolutions. Resolutions that look the best on that display are denoted with an Eye-Friendly icon; choose the desired resolution to switch to it. If you use only the best-looking resolutions, the Eye-Friendly Modes Only option configures the app to show only those resolutions.

Eye-Friendly’s menu is much more elegant that QuickRes’s, though it’s not as flexible as Pupil’s, which allows you to not only select which specific resolutions you want to appear in the menu, but also re-label them. But since it’s not difficult to find a resolution in Eye-Friendly’s list—and, as I mentioned, you can narrow the list down to show only the best resolutions—this level of customization isn’t a feature I miss.

Eye-Friendly also offers convenient keyboard shortcuts: Just place your cursor on the display you want to change, and then press Control+Option+Command+Up Arrow to cycle up through available resolutions or +Down Arrow to cycle down. Eye-Friendly displays each resolution in a semi-transparent overlay on the screen; when you settle for a couple seconds on the one you want, the display’s resolution changes to match.

As you get used to using Eye-Friendly, you’ll soon be cycling through resolutions, finding the one you want in no time at all. However, Eye-Friendly doesn’t let you remap the shortcuts, so if you’re already using key shortcuts involving Control+Option+Command and the arrow keys for another app, you’ll need to change those shortcuts in the other app. [Editor's note: Version 1.1 lets users remap the keyboard shortcuts.] By comparison, QuickRes’s shortcuts are much more configurable, allowing you to select which resolutions to cycle through—as many as eight, or as few as two. (Pupil has no keyboard shortcuts.)

Eye-Friendly’s menu on a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro

In terms of resolutions, on my 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, Eye-Friendly offers 11 resolutions, the fewest of the three resolution apps I’ve reviewed (Pupil offers 17, QuickRes 27). Eye-Friendly does give access to the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s native 2880-by-1800 resolution, but nothing higher than that. If you need one of those higher resolutions, you’ll need to use Pupil or QuickRes.

So of the three, which resolution-switching app do I now use? It’s not perfect, but I’ve settled on Eye-Friendly because of its clean menu design and, most important for my work setup, its easy support for multiple displays. The perfect resolution-switching app would combine the best features of the three: QuickRes’s large number of supported resolutions and customizable keyboard shortcuts, Pupil’s customizable menu, and Eye-Friendly’s multiple-display support.

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At a Glance
  • Eye-Friendly's keyboard shortcuts and multiple-display support make it a nice resolution switcher for the Retina MacBook.

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