Ask DN: Designing on a Retina MacBook Pro

9 years ago from , Principal UX Designer

Hi guys,

I've just recently purchased a 15" Retina MacBook Pro, but have changed the Display Resolution from the default "Best for display" over to the highest "More space" setting.

I was wondering, having read an article from David McKinney on setting up Photoshop for UI Design, he states to keep the default display option. I'm finding it super difficult to work at this resolution as everything is so huge on screen, and with multiple apps/windows spread across it tends to become a little overwhelming.

My question is what your setups are like for those that design in Photoshop on a retina screen. I do have a Cinema Display plugged in when I'm at home, but while at work I have to work on the laptop itself. Thanks in advance!


  • Jonathan RichardJonathan Richard, 9 years ago

    I had the same reflex when I got my 13" Retina MBP. But I put it back to the default a few days later.

    Working in Photoshop is unsettling at first. But it becomes great. And then you start doing your work twice as big. And voilà, you are creating HDPI designs.

    Browsing the web on a retina laptop is also a great experience. You notice every detail and you notice that we are now in a post-pixel era!

    2 points
    • Jaffar Khorshidi, 9 years ago

      Thanks Jonathan, I'll give it a run for a week and see how I adjust. It definitely does feel unsettling, especially with the PS workspace setup I have utilising two columns of panels, leaving barely much canvas area, but I'll see how it goes and update you.

      As a side note, do you generally design HDPI and scale down or work the other way around?

      0 points
  • Evan DinsmoreEvan Dinsmore, 9 years ago

    On my 15" Retina MBP I use the setting in between Best for display and More Space. Coming from a 17" MBP there just simply was not enough screen real estate. I don't find it affects my designs at all, whether I'm working on my Cinema Display or MBP, though I do work mostly on mobile where I'm zoomed in a lot of the time.

    1 point
    • Jaffar Khorshidi, 9 years ago

      I suppose that is a middle ground option I could trial. I'm just so used to using the "More Space" option and having so much real estate available. I'm struggling to realise just how designers actually use the default "Best for display" option. With mobile I suppose it isn't that bad, but when it comes to actual web interfaces, that's when I find it the most difficult, not being able to see the entire canvas and constantly having to zoom in/out.

      0 points
  • Ben Henschel, 9 years ago

    Yeah I've been having a hard time designing on my retina MBP. I found it better to design at 2x and just keep everything an even number. Then when I'm all done I save out the 2x and just cut the design by 50% and save out the 1x. The hardest part is getting use to working with big numbers. I have a pretty good idea of how big 600px is, but now I have to remember to make it 1200px. Also then when coding I have to always remember to cut dimensions in half.

    I'm hoping with time I will just get use to it.

    0 points