There are many rants like this, but this one is mine.
I recently started a new gig (I’m a professor now, which is fun, and challenging). Among numerous setup issues, I had to get the university to buy a new display. I didn’t want to burn through my professional development budget by getting a Studio Display (yes, I am jealous of yours). So, I did a bunch of research and got a 27" LG 4K display. This one. It was even on sale. Great!
It arrived, and I set it up, plugged in the single-USB-C cable, felt magical, etc.
Then I looked at some text. Woof!
I ended up spending an unspeakable number of minutes over the succeeding week changing display settings this way and that, reading about HiDPI and scaling and 1:1 ratios and the display sweet spot. I tried four different resolutions within the sweet spot. I entered
defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO into the terminal, because apparently “Apple has disabled Subpixel antialiasing for text in macOS Mojave.” Later, I deleted those same font smoothing settings, because apparently they can be at fault. A half-dozen times I considered returning the display and waiting to spend $2000 CAD on a Studio Display in the new fiscal year.
Finally, finally, I found an advanced setting hidden in the app Better Display:
I enabled those toggles, applied them, and voila. Everything looks … like a good display!
I am discombobulated by how confusing this is. I can’t imagine it’s a good thing for the average user to buy an average display to hook up to their better-than-average new Mac, only to see an extremely disappointing image quality.
Surely I am not the only person who thinks it is a bit odd that Apple’s solution is to buy a display that costs as much as your laptop … especially when a software solution exists!
I don’t know what the lesson learned is here, but I hope Better Display and those settings above will help someone else in the future. (Let’s be real: that person is probably me in a few years after I repress these memories and buy another 4K display.)