15" external display with more pixels is blurrier than my 15" MBP retina


Limp Gawd
May 22, 2005
My 15" portable display has a resolution of 3200x1800, which is more than my 15" MBP 2017 v12.4 Monterey running 2880x1800.

So my external display should look just as awesome if not better correct? Nope. It's blurry or very tiny.

In my Display system preferences, when selecting the external monitor and scaled, I'm only allowed to set a WxH resolution, not a "more space / less space" setting which my built in retina display has. This means my most sensible choices are 3200x1800 which makes everything (icons, text) very small or a multiple of it like 1600x900, which puts icons in the correct size, but it is clearly pixelated like the old generations of Macbooks before retina was around.

Is there a workaround for this?
I'm guessing there is a 95% chance that this won't work, but I'd check this guide anyway:
I understand what you're saying, it's not giving you scaled options in the first place. Not sure if the 'option' key thing will work or not. If scaled resolutions aren't there, short of forcing something in software, I'm not sure if there is a solution.
thanks but it didn't work. holding down option and pressing scaled didn't show any new options

it seems like this wouldn't be hard to do in 3rd party software....since the scaling has already been done for the built in retina display. im basically asking mac to treat my external monitor as a 15" retina display

on the other hand, web browsing looks retina like when set to 3200x1800 and then using Chrome's cmd+ keys to make everything super big
A little research got me this: https://apple.stackexchange.com/que...-on-an-external-display-from-macbook-pro-2016
It seems like the 3200x1800 low resolution option would be what you'd need. Counterintuitive, yes. This will treat everything as though it's 1600x900 but retain the retina quality picture.
If you're not getting that option at all, you might need to try a third-party program such as RDM, SwitchResX, or BetterDummy (available on GitHub). Also if you're using HDMI to HDMI, try switching to Mini DisplayPort (thunderbolt) to DisplayPort, as that should enable a much wider range of resolutions.
played around with betterdummy from that link (thanks)
it worked using a method where they created a dummy display and then I streamed it to the external and i could get a glorious image at 3k retina

the limitations were
- lag when moving mouse or typing
- i was constricted to only the external monitor
- my display arrangements kept getting reset (i have two other monitors), very frustrating
Better than nothing, I suppose. Sometimes Macs are funky with external displays. I never used one with my MBP over the four and a half years I had it, but you aren't the first person I've heard of that has had struggles with it.
Do let us know if you're able to find a more adequate solution.