How to reset, fix, customize the Mac screen display

Is the screen display on your MacBook or iMac good? Even if it is, it may be possible to improve it with a few tweaks to the settings. They may even fix a poor or faulty display.

The Mac screen display is pretty good straight out of the box, but that does not mean you should simply accept the defaults because with a few tweaks you might be able to make it even better and there are plenty of ideas below.

Problems with the screen display on the MacBook or iMac are rare, but what can you do about it if it is not right? If it is a hardware fault then you might need to get the screen repaired or replaced. However, if the computer is not under warranty or Apple Care and repair or replacement is too expensive then it may be something you have to live with.

Before giving up all hope of repairing a faulty display, try these tweaks. Even if your Mac’s screen looks fine you might want to try some of them anyway because they may improve the image.

1: Set the default screen resolution

Go to System Settings and select the Displays section in the sidebar on the left. Under the image are the screen resolutions that are available on this Mac.

Screen display settings in macOS on the Apple Mac.
Display settings in System Settings on the Mac

The physical resolution of the Mac screen display is so high that most options look sharp. However, there may be slight differences, personal preferences and of course, everyone’s eyes are different. The default resolution is usually the best, but try the others and see for yourself which one is best for your eyesight. You may find Larger Text options better if your eyesight is not so good, but More Space options shrink text and objects to fit more onto the screen.

Try each one. It shouldn’t make any difference, and maybe its my imagination, but I think it’s better to restart the Mac after changing resolutions.

2: Select a display profile or calibrate

Go to System Settings and select Displays in the sidebar on the left. Among the settings listed in this section is Color profile. Click whatever is currently selected to see a list of different options.

Select a display profile on the Apple Mac to improve the screen display.
Color profile selection in System Settings in macOS

The display profiles subtly change how the colors on the screen appear. You can try each one and see if any of them improve the screen display. The default should be best for the Mac’s built in screen, but if you use an external display then one of the others may be better.

Using the wrong display profile might affect photo editing and other activities where accurate on-screen colors are required.

Manually configure the display profile on an Apple Mac.
Configure the display profile in macOS

You may find that calibrating the Mac screen display yourself produces the best picture and if you select Calibrate on the menu and then click the plus button in the next window, you are led through a series of tests and tweaks the find the best settings. Just follow the guide and do what it says.

3: Disable Night Shift

Go to System SettingsPreferences and select Displays. Click the Night Shift button on the right. Turn off Night Shift.

Night Shift display settings in macOS on the Apple Mac.
Night Shift display settings on the Mac

Night Shift alters the color balance of the screen and it can make it less or more warm. In other words, it adjusts the blue and red components in whatever appears on the screen. This can result in a display that is easier on your eyes in the evening when there is less light and some say it results in better sleep.

Be aware that it is not natural and therefore it is not a good idea if you are photo editing or doing some other activity where accurate colors are needed. It might be harder on your eyes with Night Shift off, but the colours are more accurate.

4: Customize accessibility settings

Go to System Settings and select the Accessibility section in the sidebar on the left. Click Display on the right and then use the controls to customize the display

Accessibility settings affecting the screen display on the Apple Mac.
Screen display accessibility settings in macOS

There are several options here that affect the screen display and there are no right or wrong settings for them, just set them as you prefer. The Display contrast slider has a large effect on the screen display so experiment with it to get the best image. Usually the Normal setting is best, but try it and see.

Options like Increase contrast and Reduce transparency may help. Try them on and off and see which you prefer.

Color filters and other accessibility settings in macOS
Color filters and accessibility settings in macOS

Scroll down the Accessibility > Display settings and there are options for applying color filters. If your screen looks weirdly colored, maybe a color filter is applied by accident. Make sure Color filters is turned off.

5: Set the desktop image

Go to System Settings and select Wallpaper in the sidebar. To reset it to the default, select the image with the same name as macOS. So in Ventura, select Ventura Graphic for example.

Wallpaper selection in System Settings on the Apple Mac
Select the default desktop wallpaper

High resolution photos can use more system resources and low resolution images can look blurred when stretched to fit the desktop. Apple’s images are just the right size and resolution, so choose the default for your version of macOS and see if it is an improvement over the current desktop image.

6: Customise the desktop view

Control+click the desktop or go to the View menu and then select Show View Options on the menu.

Configure the desktop view in macOS
Desktop settings options

This window lets you set the size of icons, the spacing between them (grid spacing), the text size for the caption below icons, the position (bottom or right) for the label, and so on. There are no right or wrong settings, so set it as you prefer.

7: Reset the NVRAM/PRAM (Intel only)

Some system settings are stored in the NVRAM or PRAM on Intel Macs. I don’t think think they affect the screen display, but when faced with a problem you cannot fix, it is worth trying. Reset the NVRAM/PRAM by powering on the Mac and immediately holding down the Option+Command+P+R keys.

Apple says this does not apply to Apple Silicon powered Macs.

8: Reset the SMC (Intel only)

The SMC controls various aspects of the Apple Mac on Intel Macs and again I don’t think they affect the screen display, but if nothing else has worked, try it. Reset the SMC by powering off the Mac. Hold down Shift+Option+Control and then press the power button to turn it on. Hold all those buttons for 10 seconds.

Apple says this does not apply to Apple Silicon powered Macs.

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