Monitors: scaling vs. default

Forgive me for asking a question here that has mostly to do with general monitor resolution and settings, but I am curious as to how it might apply specifically to using Dorico most effectively.

I have two monitors, both 4k, both the same brand (AOC), one 27" and one curved 32". I generally use the 27" in portrait mode. They are both connected to my M1 Mac mini. When I open the displays settings, I have the option of choosing “default for display” or “scaling” for the resolution (or maybe it isn’t the resolution exactly but the way in which the real estate of the monitor is allocated). If I choose “scaling” it tells me something about how it might result in some degradation of image.

Here’s what I don’t get: my 32" screen defaults to an extremely large field such that the menu bar at the top is in a very small font size, and all of my apps appear with similarly small type and in small windows (in terms of their actual size in inches). However, the 27" has a much larger default font size, etc. This is generally not an issue, and I can always zoom in or out. However, if I move a window from one monitor to the other, I have to significantly resize the window to fit. That isn’t fun.

Both of these monitors work great with Dorico, and I can see a lot of score at once. I’m not complaining about that at all! But I am wondering if anyone might be able to explain why the default settings for each of these otherwise very similar monitors might be so different, and maybe more important, if I should scale one to match the other. If I do scale, is that a better or worse option for Dorico vs. zooming in/out on the score while keeping both screens at their default setting.


I can’t tell you why the two monitors have different defaults – the OS does ‘interrogate’ the display to get various information, such as size and colour profile.

I’ve not seen any warnings when selecting scaled resolutions. Can you screenshot it?

Normally, there should not be any degradation - it’s just “zooming in”.

Given that one display is physically larger (for the same number of pixels), then there will always be a slight change of scale when moving things from one to the other. I would just scale both to the standard MAcOS 2x scaling.

Here’s a screenshot. I think I’ll try it at the smaller scaling and see how it works.

Ah: Yes, that just means that using a non-integer scaling value is a lot more work for the GPU, as it’s having to calculate shading values for fractions of a pixel.
That doesn’t say “degradation of image”.

I would keep your 27-inch at the default size (which is almost certainly a scaled size). The 32-inch sounds like it’s at ‘native’ size, with no scaling. I would set it to a scale factor of 2 (e.g. a ‘virtual’ display that’s half the size.)

OK, I’ll try that, thanks!

I also use an external 28" monitor with my MacBook Pro and have the scaling set to give me a larger user interface. However, my settings for the display section in system preferences looks the same as jjm_35’s screenshot, that is, I am offered the choice of various sizes of type but there is no indication of a “scale factor”. It makes sense to me to use a scale factor that involves as little work as possible for the cpu or gpu—is there a way to determine what the scale factor is for each of the type-size examples in jjm_35’s screenshot?

If you mouse-over each button, it should tell you what the virtual size is.


You should also be able to option-click on where it says “Scaled” in that screenshot and then gain access to all possible screen resolutions (rather then just the ones they are initially presenting here). This may allow you to better finesse the discrepancy between how the monitors look relative to each other.
Best -

  • D.D.
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