Enable Retina / HiDPI modes for a Mac mini plugged into a 4K HDTV

This one is pretty short and simple once you get down to it.

I recently set up a client’s boardroom with a really sweet 75″ Sony 4K Android TV, a Logitech Group video conferencing webcam, a Mac mini and a Sonos Playbar. Everything was really sweet, except that the Mac mini refused to treat the TV as a Retina or HiDPI screen.

The result of this was that the Mac mini would use the TV at it’s native resolution – it saw the TV as a monitor running at 3840 x 2160. What I wanted it to do was treat it as a 1920 x 1080 display, but in Retina mode, so UI elements would be a reasonable size from across the room but text and graphical elements would still be sharp.

I was able to enable HiDPI modes by first running the following command in Terminal:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist DisplayResolutionEnabled -bool true

Once this had been applied, I rebooted and logged in again. Then, when I went into my Displays preferences, instead of selecting Resolution: Best for built-in display, I held down the Option key and clicked on Scaled.

Scrolling down to the bottom of the list revealed the HiDPI modes – I selected 1920 x 1080 (HiDPI) and voila! I was running in Retina mode and could comfortably use the Mac mini from across the other side of the room.

This article was posted by Kai Howells. If you liked this content and have any technical work in the Melbourne area, say hello via my contact form or give me a call on 0419 361 653 - I cover most of the greater Melbourne area and my rates are competitive.

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