Anybody else prefer a small display?

I just now switched off my ancient 27" Apple Cinema Display and am now using the MacBook Pro’s 13" display only. And I think I like it. After all, I can only look at one thing at a time and now I can see the whole display without moving my head. I barely have to move my eyes.

Do you prefer a small display?

I’m running a 27" 5K iMac with two 24" 4K displays on either side. If anything, I’d prefer the external displays to be 27" 5K monitors. So, no.

That is a lot of real estate! How do you use it?

The short version:

  • Stuff I’m actively working on goes on the iMac display (either a maximized app or two apps in a 50/50 split).
  • Supporting apps (notetaking or reference material) go on the inside half of each external display (closest to the iMac).
  • Apps that I just need to glance at occasionally (OmniFocus, Sonos) go on the outside half of each external display.

For the long version:


Nope! I usually use my 27" retina display to its fullest extent, plus I have apps in dedicated multiple Spaces.

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Nope. I use a 27” display on the desktop and have a 15” MBP for mobile use. I’d love to carry a smaller laptop if I could get an even larger display (e.g. projected in mid air).

Too many websites or apps insist on needing a wide window which means I can’t have even 2 windows side-by-side without overlapping.

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I like both.
My iPad Pro mandates that I focus on one thing. Slide over and Side-by-side are a clunky PITA, so I don’t use them very much.
My iMac Pro and MBP with external 27” monitor allow me to have a dizzying array of windows open at once. Reference material, editors, MATLAB, etc.

Listening to MPU this week, and John Gruber talking about his vision challenges, I thought it would be nice if he could have a high dpi display centered in his 27” iMac display. In other words, a 13” or 15” display with a border around it, centered on the 27” display.

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I like a large display or multiple displays. I added a 27" display to my 21.5" iMac. At work I have a Panasonic Toughpad with a 10" display. There are times when there is not near enough screen space to do what I need to do.

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I always opt for as much screen as I can get my hands on. At home, the 27" 5k screen is sufficient for me. At clients using a laptop, I run both the internal and external monitor in an extended desktop configuration.

Only time I prefer the smaller screen of the iPhone X is reading Kindle books. Type is really crisp, it’s easy to hold and my eyes don’t get distracted as easily as they do when there is more screen to wander about.

I feel myself succumbing to peer pressure.

This could be an expensive experiment. If I decide I need more screen real estate, no way I’m going back to the Cinema Display. It was a great monitor in its day, but that day is long past; I got it in 2011. (I was celebrating getting a new job – on a commuter train to visit my brother I pulled out my iPhone and ordered the Cinema Display on the spot. That was a very expensive train ride.)


When programming I use a 4k external monitor and find that plenty for Xcode and reference material.
If I’m also working with assets, I’ll put a terminal, simulator and notes on the MBP display, but otherwise thats blank.

For other things, I prefer the 15” display so I don’t have to look around for things.

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FWIW, my experiment has survived the five-minute test and the five-hour test. I’m still satisfied with the 13" display on the 2018 MBP.

When I’m doing development work, I tend to use a 28” 4K monitor and 21” secondary, as I need to have an IDE, documents and webpages open at the same time.

When mobile, I read reference materials on my 11” iPad and use a recent 13” MacBook Pro. I find this perfect for my needs. I love the size of these screens personally, they hit a sweet spot of portablility without compromise.

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I used to run a dual-monitor setup, but I’ve been using my 2015 MacBook since, well, 2015.

I have grown to really like the focused space, although I’ll admit that I don’t do the coding or video work that some might need lots of space for.

I have recently purchased a 12.9" iPad, and I find myself really enjoying it, especially the ability to do split screen and still have two-decent sized apps on screen. That’s proven to be plenty for me.

Now, if someone were to offer a 27" iMac, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down, but I agree that a small screen can be quite nice.

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I prefer a smaller display. Bifocals. When I use a one client’s 27" iMac, I have to stand up to read the pull down menus and move from left to right to use side by side windows. Reading my 13" MacBook pro isn’t bad but I much prefer my iPad.

For reading and writing, I prefer my 12.9 iPad Pro or 13” MacBook Pro screen. Seems like I can concentrate better. This is also true for when I need to churn through some emails. For some reason the smaller screen helps me focus.

For spreadsheets, Keynote prep, video editing, etc. I prefer the 27” HD screen that I connect my MacBook Pro to.

Having two 27” screens is the new trend where I work, but I haven’t gone there. My work requires focus and I think too much screen real estate would distract me.

I use HazeOver in situations where I need to concentrate on one app.

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Thanks for the recommendation. I think it’s probably more of a mental thing for me.

Really depends on what I’m doing. I only use my dual monitors if I’m working on something that requires that much real estate. Otherwise, like you, I prefer a smaller display.

I bought a 27" iMac in June last year. One the reasons was the Air was too portable and I took it everywhere! The idea of the iMac was to have a dedicated space for computer work.

Got the 27" because if I got the smaller one I’d always think I shoulda got the bigger one!

The experiment has failed. The iMac is about to be for sale!

Just bought a new MacBook Air! It’s the goldilocks computer (just right, for me!)