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I want my Macbook to be 1280x720 for a certain thing I need to do, yet all the programs that do this cost money.

Is there a free way to do within on Lion?

NO: SwitchResX or whatever is not free.

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I think I may have solved this problem, after a lot of experimentation, but I only have one system to test it on. http://youtu.be/6DxQm8xAy6M. The video references this website

Basically, I'm editing the plist file that sets which resolutions are allowed. No software or money required.

/System/Library/Displays/Overrides/ contains the .plist files with the resolution options OSX uses for displays. I'm running ioreg -lw0 | grep IODisplayPrefsKey to figure out which one is the primary display, and then adding an entry for the custom resolution. It's basically what switchresx does, but without all of the software.

This is on OSX 10.6.8, though, so I don't know if it's applicable to Lion.

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Sure. /System/Library/Displays/Overrides/ contains the .plist files with the resolution options OSX uses for displays. I'm running ioreg -lw0 | grep IODisplayPrefsKey to figure out which one is the primary display, and then adding an entry for the custom resolution. It's basically what switchresx does, but without all of the software. – Marcus Chan Jan 26 '13 at 23:47

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