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.

3 Answers 3


I think I may have solved this problem, after a lot of experimentation, but I only have one system to test it on. Watch Custom Resolutions in Mac OSX, no software necessary!. The video references this website, #MacOSX : Display EDID [UPDATED]

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.

  • 8
    For the record, the path is now /System/Library/Displays/Contents/Resources/Overrides Sep 27, 2016 at 21:35
  • You got my vote even though I couldn’t find the (headless) Mac mini’s Virtual Display with IOReg. But I got a good start!
    – Colin
    Aug 18, 2018 at 21:45
  • 1
    How did you create your custom entry? Mine look like they are encoded:<key>scale-resolutions</key> <array> <data>AAAZAAAADhA=</data> <data>AAAWgAAADKg=</data> <data>AAAUAAAAC0A=</data>
    – jzadra
    Nov 21, 2018 at 21:35

Alternative fix here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gY94z2vcVqM

Because it doesn't appear that user "Greenonline" solution works any longer unless someone knows how to decode the text within the appropriate .plist file like user "jzadra" commented. I tried base64 (which it should be) with no luck, as well as many others. Optionally you could plug your monitor in to get the proper resolution that shows up in that file and then copy/paste that encoded value into the plist file on bootup. That should solve the issue.


Alternatively, you can use displaymode.

  1. Download the latest release from https://github.com/p00ya/displaymode/releases.
  2. In the Terminal, cd Downloads into your Downloads directory and run chmod +x displaymode.
  3. Use ./displaymode d to list available resolutions and e.g. ./displaymode t 1280 720 to change your resolution.

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