Ever since I bought my first computer, an original Tangerine iBook with an 800 x 600 display, I wanted to be able to simulate a higher resolution to fit more on the screen.
Quick Distraction: Check out this video of Steve Jobs introducing the first iBook in 1999. It completed the last square in the four product matrix after he came back to Apple in 1997 and simplified the product offering.
I’ve been reading articles talking about Apple moving toward resolution independence since shortly after I got that first iBook.
Retina displays now let you run at several scaled resolutions. The scaled resolutions let you fit more on the screen at a lower sharpness than true Retina, but are not pixel-for-pixel to the native display resolution. This is a great feature for Retina displays, but it didn’t help me on my current MacBook Air since that doesn’t have a Retina display.
The solution I’ve found is a Mac app called SwitchResX.
This app makes it easy to simulate higher resolutions than your display supports, so you can fit more on the screen.The trade-off is sharpness, but the quality is not that bad on non-Retina displays. On Retina displays, SwitchResX supports more resolutions than the scaled options Apple offers, including pixel-for-pixel.
When using my MacBook Air without an external monitor, I’ve found that 1680 x 1050 is pretty comfortable blend between sharpness and screen real estate for general use.
When I’m doing web or iOS development that could use even more space, 1920 x 1200 is what I use. With anything higher than this, the text becomes much harder to read.
I hope this post helps other people who have always wanted a solution like this, but never found one!