Fixing OSX’s Broken External Display Support

I have two external monitors on my iMac – both connected via mini-DP to DP cables. I didn’t want to spend the money Apple charges for displays, so these are third-party displays with specs very similar to Apple’s displays.

But…the text on them looks like crap. It’s jagged, blocky, and just generally ugly – why? The iMac built-in monitor displays text beautifully.

It turns out that if I go to About This Mac, then to System Report, then to Graphics/Displays, I can see the problem: OSX thinks my two external monitors are televisions. This has color space issues and causes anti-aliasing of text to be disabled. In other words, the display noticeably looks like crap.

I suspect this is a way for Apple to discourage use of third party hardware – I’d like to believe it isn’t, but since my displays have a native resolution unlike that of any TV, it would be simple for Apple to differentiate between TV and monitor. Even better, they could provide an easy interface to override this guess. Besides, Windows and Linux look beautiful on these monitors without any tweaking, so unless anyone thinks Apple lacks the brilliant minds of Microsoft, this isn’t an impossible problem to solve – particularly because Apple has had many years to fix it.

Back to the topic, how do you fix it? Fortunately, others have figured out how to deal with this problem – rather than repeating the solution here, just go to the I Reckon blog and read Force RGB mode in Mac OS X to fix the picture quality of an external monitor .

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