Fix too small iOS Simulator on Retina Macs

Recently I received my MacBook Pro. It’s the 13″ model with Retina Display. I run it in the 1680×1050 HiDPI mode to get more content on the screen (I use the nice little tool called QuickRes to conveniently switch resolutions).

Before I had the MacBook Pro I was working on a MacBook Air with significantly lower resolution and when testing my iOS apps in the Simulator, I had to scale the Simulator down to fit on my screen. This can easily be done by pressing CMD+1 (100%), CMD+2 (75%) and CMD+3 (50%) or via the Window -> Scale options.

Now with the MacBook Pro it is the other way round: an iPhone 5 is simply too small even at 100%. See the screenshot below.


iPhone 5 at 100% scale – hard to see details

I searched the web for possible solutions and finally found a way that works pretty nicely. By changing the last used scale setting, the next time you run the Simulator, it will pick up that setting. In the Terminal run:

defaults write ~/Library/Preferences/ SimulatorWindowLastScale "2.0"

This will change the scaling to 200% (“2.0”). You can use whatever works best for your display. When restarting my app from Xamarin Studio, this is what I get:

Simulator scaled to 200%

Simulator scaled to 200%

That’s much better! If you peek at the Window -> Scale menu, it will even show “200%”, however as soon as you pick a different setting, you won’t be able to switch back to the fake one and the Terminal command must be run again.