Help me stop killing my eyesight in Mac OS on an HDTV.
May 12, 2012 10:02 PM   Subscribe

A MacOS n00b (me) seeks knowledgable a MacOS user to help him with a problem. I've connected my brand new Mac Mini to an HDTV via an HDMI cable. I'm running it in 1080p since I bought the mini to use as an HTPC. But in this resolution, system text (such as the wind name, the URL bar in Safari etc) is killing my eyes. It's pretty small and barely readable from my couch. How do I fix this?
posted by Effigy2000 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In Safari, you can hold down Command and press '+' to increase the fonts and images inside your browser window. However, there aren't a lot of good options for increasing the system font size for things like menus and the URL bar.

A quick way to zoom in and out is, if you're using a mouse, to hold down Control and scroll your mouse wheel forward. On a trackpad/touchpad, holding down control and swiping two fingers up and down does the same thing.

If you have neither a trackpad nor scroll wheel mouse, you can access OS X's zoom settings inside System Preferences > Universal Access

Turn Zoom on in the "seeing" tab and then press Option /Command/+ to zoom in and Option/ Command / - to zoom out. Change the Min and Max zoom to your liking and that should do it.

Unfortunately, the zoom function makes fonts and images look fuzzy.

I wish I had better news. Option 3 is to sit closer to your TV or change your Mac's resolution temporarily to something like 800x600 to do things like file management and web browsing.
posted by plasticbugs at 10:32 PM on May 12, 2012

There are tons of message board discussions about Mac OS system font size, and I think the short answer to your question is that there is currently no proper solution.

Until Apple implements system-wide font sizing, you could try a few of the suggestions offered in this MacRumors thread.
posted by roomwithaview at 10:32 PM on May 12, 2012

There seems to be a decent solution in roomwithaview's link. Try enabling HiDPI mode at a lower resolution and see if that makes things better. It looks like your Mac Mini must be running OS 10.7.3 (latest version of Lion), in order for this to work.

Basically, you'll be looking at a sharper blown up version of the operating system. With the HiDPI options, videos and images should appear as sharp as a 1080p TV will allow, even though the resolution is set lower than 1080p.

Good luck.
posted by plasticbugs at 10:42 PM on May 12, 2012

I, too, have a Mini connected to an HDTV. Mine's a 42" Sharp, and I've found that running it at 1600 x 900 (with overscan enabled) instead of 1080p makes interacting with the OS elements from couch-distance a lot easier. This is not the answer you're looking for, I know, but there 'tis.

Apple keeps adding much higher resolution resources to the system, which suggests that we may see resolution independence in the next OS X release (I've not been paying close attention to the rumor mill)... if so, then maybe in 10.8 we'll finally be able to scale our window elements up to, say 1.5x while running our screens at 1080p.
posted by mumkin at 10:50 PM on May 12, 2012

It looks, by the way, like Apple has removed the HiDPI options from 10.7.4 (released a couple of days ago).
posted by mumkin at 12:27 AM on May 13, 2012

I am using an older Macbook Pro as a HTPC, and I found the only acceptable way to make things larger at 1920x1080 in a living room was to just increase the size of the TV... Got a good price on a 60" LCD 120Hz and haven't looked back.

Some software (like VLC) has big floaty controls which are convenient for using with a wireless keyboard/mouse combo from the couch.
posted by thewalrus at 2:04 AM on May 13, 2012

I have a Mini plugged into a 1080p TV as well. (Mine is 40" and I sit about six feet away.) I've had it in a few different rooms, and through some experimentation, this is the conclusion I've come to: if the combination of TV size and distance makes menus too small to read at 1080p, I can't tell the difference between 1080p content and 720p content. I know it sucks not running at native resolution, but do you really have that much 1080p content on the Mini anyway? It can't play Blu-Rays, and legit sources (afaik) only go up to 720p. Granted, there are 1080p show and movie rips, but they're compressed so you're not getting the "full" 1080p experience anyway.

Long story short, I've found that if I can't read system text, it doesn't hurt to move down to 720p and save 1080 for the Blu-Ray player.
posted by supercres at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2012

Find an optimum screen resolution for reading text and use SwitchResX to switch resolution when launching a certain program. has a forum dedicated to HTPC.
posted by plokent at 7:28 AM on May 13, 2012

I've been using 720p with my Mac on a 1080p TV and text/movies have always looked fine to me.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:23 AM on May 13, 2012

Apple Menu (Top right corner of your screen; Apple Icon)

System Preferences
>Universal Access (Blue circle, with a vesuvian looking man)
>>>Zoom (on/of) then set preferences, keyboard shortcuts, etc.

This allows you to zoom in/out without permanent changes.

This thread has more advice, including some about tinkertool!

Good Luck : )
posted by MansRiot at 10:59 AM on May 13, 2012

Run it at 720p. I have a mac mini running HDMI to a 44" LCD. I tried 1080P for a while and mucked around with all the font choices until I decided that 1080p wasn't gaining me anything except annoyance.

Supercres said it right. You don't gain any benefit from 1080p with the mac mini, since all the video you have available on it will not be available at 1080p anyway.
posted by volition at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2012

There is 1080p content on my Mini. Since iTunes started offering movies and TV in 1080p I've been downloading those in 1080p. I guess I could just run it in 720p and switch to 1080p when I use iTunes to watch movies. Seems like a waste, though...
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:43 PM on May 13, 2012

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