Yesterday I undertook an experiment on my Mac, going into the Display settings in Preferences and scaling down from the default 2560 ✕ 1440 resolution to 1600 ✕ 900.
Because this Mac has a Retina Display, which has a native resolution of 5120 ✕ 2880, I'm not losing any pixels in the process. Instead, all the text and icons are scaled and interpolated to fit. Text remains sharp, as do most of the icons.
Over the last few years, I've noticed that I've been increasing the default text size in various apps so that I can read in comfort. Due to changes in my eyesight, I get eyestrain if I wear my glasses while looking at screens or reading a book, so I only put them on for outdoor activity. Additionally, one eye has a slightly different focal length to the other, which was exacerbating the issue. I could have gotten reading glasses, but I've been advised that I'll probably need to move to varifocals in a few year's time anyway, so I'm going to wait and save my money for those.
However, the amount of control over text size varies considerably between applications, and for the most part the user interface is fixed at the system resolution. So I decided to see if changing the screen resolution would be better for me. Initial results are encouraging, not only am I experiencing less strain, but I'm also not leaning forward as much.
Of course, I'm going to have to adapt to different window layouts for some apps, particularly those with crowded icon bars such as Microsoft Word. And I'm having to roll back all the text size adjustments I made in various other apps. C'est la vie. 🤷
There's an irony to this — I did something similar to my parents' iMac back in 2014, because they were used to a lower screen resolution from their previous PCs and found the higher resolution harder on their eyes. And the ability to scale the screen is something that Windows has been able to do for ages, right the way back to version 3.0, although you have to dig into the settings to find it.
It has gotten me wondering, though, about why this and other user accommodations aren't featured in the startup and onboarding process for new devices. The technology and functionality is already there, would it be that hard to ask a few questions when you first turn on the device?