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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications System
Apples hidden AppleDisplayScaleFactor provides a means to set the UI display scaling factor, a feature which has been built into Mac OS X since Tiger (I think) but has never been exploited so far (probably due to the difficulties from moving from pixel-oriented graphics to a more generic concept).

Many applications don't support this feature yet, so setting the factor globally results in a big mess in some of the applications. Setting the scale factor for single applications however helps in saving some screen estate.

I'm running two screens, one is a 24 inch display (1920x1200), the other my MacBook Pro's internal 12800x800 pixel screen. Although this is quite some space, I'm always running low on screen estate. I found that setting the Display UI Factor to 0.85 saved quite a bit of space when applied to the following (for me always running) applications: Mail, iTunes, iCal, Skype.

This can be accomplished by using the following code in Terminal:

defaults write /theapp/ AppleDisplayScaleFactor 0.85

To reset back to the default behavior use:

defaults write /theapp/ AppleDisplayScaleFactor 1

Please note that /theapp/ needs to be replaced by one of the following:
  • com.apple.iTunes
  • com.apple.mail
  • com.apple.iCal
  • com.skype.skype
I also tried it on NetNewsWire, Finder and Google Chrome, but they displayed artifacts, and for Chrome it was a better solution to set a global website scale factor of 83% in the preferences (a feature which is not present in Safari unfortunately).

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. If folks test it with other applications please post your results in the comments.]
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  You rated: 5 / 5 (16 votes cast)
 
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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: algernon on Mar 22, '11 08:01:18AM

iChat seems to work! Beautiful!



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: gabester on Mar 22, '11 08:14:01AM
Thank you for bringing this information up again... I haven't played with this any lately but the tip about Mail is invaluable. I tried it with Entourage as well... I'm a miser about my screen real estate.

There is a little bit of flicker when the window redraws as it's dragging... but I can deal with that if Entourage takes up less than 1/4 of my 1280x800 screen. I also just noticed that, at least in Entourage, some of the buttons I have to click a little to the right of where they are drawn on the screen to activate them. So it's not perfect, and this is clearly why Apple hasn't implemented resolution independence - it doesn't work seemlessly enough given the state of most apps to provide a good user experience. However, for those of us on mosxhints who like to live on the bleeding edge, it serves its purpose. g=

Edited on Mar 22, '11 08:49:21AM by gabester


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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: chucky23 on Mar 22, '11 09:03:31AM

"I'm always running low on screen estate. I found that setting the Display UI Factor to 0.85 saved quite a bit of space"

Huh. Very cool. This hint greatly interests me going in the opposite direction.

I'd like to make the UI elements BIGGER in the instance of iTunes I run on my HTPC Mini. I'll try setting the value to 1.5 when I get home, and report back how well it works.

(FWIW, I'd guess this is only going to currently work smoothly with Apple apps, and only a subset of Apple apps...)



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: vertigo on Mar 22, '11 09:53:00AM

Neat. Lots of fun to play with. The change to Skype makes the interface closer to usable. Why they made it so large, I don't know...



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: emale on Mar 22, '11 10:15:01AM

Oh, seems to shrink (or enlarge) the menubar as well.



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Cool hint
Authored by: hamarkus on Mar 22, '11 12:29:20PM

Some elements even in Mail do not scale perfectly, the problem is that everything is scaled by 0.85, except for the height of the dialogue box which is close to 50% (the height of the title bar is correctly scaled).
http://img689.imageshack.us/img689/4695/mailriglitch.png



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: gcthompson on Mar 22, '11 02:16:37PM

Seems to work fine for Mail and Itunes though i have noticed that it has changed the main icon in the dock (seems less crisp to me). Might well be my imagination though..



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: prijker on Mar 22, '11 02:28:45PM

this an amazing tip
tried with Speed Download, full OK.



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Things
Authored by: spatfield on Mar 22, '11 02:32:51PM
defaults write com.culturedcode.things AppleDisplayScaleFactor 0.9
Worked, some slightly distracting visuals but I appreciate the room in the sidebar.

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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: frandall on Mar 22, '11 07:27:30PM

This is also useful for factors larger than 1 when attaching a 1080p tv to a mac. Works for com.apple.Finder and org.videolan.VLC as well without any problems, and now I can read things from across the room when using those apps from my couch!



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: everkleer80 on Mar 22, '11 08:20:38PM

5 stars for the hint, but unfortunately this feature doesn't seem to work that well yet. I tried it in iTunes and it worked ok on the main window, but the movement and/or resizing of extra windows (the album art popup, the multiple speakers window, the get info dialog...) didn't work correctly.

I was also thinking this would be great for Skype, since their new buddy list window is unbearably large, but unfortunately Skype still imposes the same restrictions on how small it'll let me make the window.



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: everkleer80 on Mar 22, '11 08:27:14PM

On a similar note, my second monitor only supports 1024x768. Does anyone know if there's a way I can scale down everything, or get a higher resolution, on my second monitor?



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: wschnaer on Mar 23, '11 06:58:08AM

Six stars out of five! I used this on Excel 2011 and it works great. I have been annoyed forever that Excel on my iMac was visually smaller than it was on a Windows display. Enlarging the view to 125% was carried over on the workbook and it opened too big on Windows machines. Setting the display factor to 1.25 solved the problem.

The only improvement that I would want was already pointed out - the menubar is increased by the scale factor also, which seems anomalous as I would have thought that the menubar was controlled by the OS and not by the app.



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Spontaneous resizing
Authored by: Skurfer on Mar 31, '11 11:50:40AM

Here’s a fun trick. Change the scale for iTunes, then open the Preferences and drag the window around. It will continue to get bigger and bigger no matter which direction you go.

(Also, the controls don’t seem to exist where they’re displayed, so you might not be able to click the Cancel button. Hit ⎋ to close the window.)



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: asmeurer on Jun 08, '11 06:49:44PM

I seem to remember that there was a program in the developer tools that had a slider to set this. I don' remember what it was called, so I can't tell if it's still there or not.



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Setting AppleDisplayScaleFactor for single applications
Authored by: asmeurer on Jun 08, '11 06:51:02PM

I remembered it. Go to Quartz Debug.app and go to Window -> UI Resolution.



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No longer works in Lion...
Authored by: gabester on Aug 30, '11 07:53:32PM

Although I seem to remember seeing another hint maybe about Lion and resolution independence? Still, this is yet another limited downgrade on functionality in the new OS.
g=



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