I adore my Retina MacBook Pro. It’s powerful and fast, and that display is beautiful. As an early adopter, I’m well aware of some of the compromises I’ve had to make for this laptop. Early adopters are different than the rest of consumers — we don’t care if we need to adopt hacks or special utilities for our new toys. We already own the future.
But those hacks and utilities aren’t always easy to find. That’s why we’ve compiled some insanely useful apps for your shiny machine. It took me months to realize I needed some of these, but especially if you’re a developer, you’ll easily see why you need these tools. Here’s the best little utilities to make your retina display MacBook even better.
If you’re a web developer, or even if you have your own customized website, you know how hard it can be to simulate your website on non-Retina devices. You could try running your website in Safari’s low-resolution mode, but that doesn’t always work properly. The low-resolution mode, in fact, doesn’t capture the 1X resolution at all, but rather just an unspecified “low-resolution,” which is a little vague for my liking.
This is where Blind comes in. It properly displays any webpage at the 1X resolution, which is exactly what most viewers of your site will see on their desktops. It also comes with a bookmarklet that quickly sends any webpage you’re visiting straight to Blind, which operates as a separate browser you can run alongside your normal browser. Every web developer obviously needs a Retina MacBook Pro, which means every web developer also needs this app. It’s also a really lightweight app, which makes it insanely useful.
Developer: Idea Bits
Do you ever take screenshots with your Mac? Of course you do. You must also know what a pain it is to do that on your Retina Mac. While Apple’s math does some great work behind the scenes and it looks like you’re taking the same size screenshot you would anywhere else, pixel doubling really reveals its downfall here.
Resize This helps you automatically resize all of your photos to a 1X resolution that’s a lot easier for web use, taking away the hassle of resizing all your images in Preview. You can choose to replace or duplicate the original file, set an automatic depository for screenshots, and even do some batch image resizing work. Since we do screenshots all the time here at AppStorm, I think it’s essential. It’s also a lightweight app, which is great, but what really makes it stand out is its pricepoint.
$0.99 for an app that makes my life much easier? Yep. Done.
Developer: Idea Bits
There are tons of apps that can help you adjust the resolution of your Mac so you can take advantage of all those extra pixels. While Apple only gives you five choosable resolutions, there are more options to expand that than I can take a stick at. SwitchResX is the best one. It’s bug free and feature-packed, which I can’t say about all its contemporaries.
Others are cheaper. Pupil has a nicer website and is only $5, but doesn’t have anywhere near the set of resolutions to choose from. QuickRes is free, but is reportedly a little buggier and doesn’t offer AppleScripting or the other advanced features behind SwitchResX.
For some people, SwitchResX might be a little much, but others will appreciate the ability to set up display resolutions for individual apps. SwitchResX is highly recommended for those of us who demand the most from our machines (but Pupil will do if you just want to see 1:1 pixels on occasion).
Developer: Stéphane Madrau
Part of the growing pains that come with being an early adopter include working with out-of-date apps. In the case of Retina Macs, we have to deal with the occasional app that hasn’t been updated for the high-resolution Retina display. Retinizer aims to fix that. The app displays low-resolution UI widgets at 2X resolution. This helps make text look better, and often fixes some of the UI issues with many low-res Mac apps.
The developer advises you not to use his app with Adobe CS (which, most CS6 and CC apps are retina-ready now, but older editions obviously are not), but I’ve otherwise found it useful many times in the past. If you’re using some apps that have yet to be updated (or are, frankly, legacy apps), this app could be exactly what you need.
Developer: Mikel PR
These are some of the most useful apps in my Retina workflow. Do you have any other favorite apps that make your retina display MacBook better for your work? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.