Why I went back working on 24-inch 1080p screen from a 32-inch 4k screen
This is a guide that I wish I have had when I was buying a 4k 32-inch screen “to be more productive”. If you are using macOS and think about buying a 4k monitor for office or programming work, this article might be useful to you.
For me, it turned out that the new, expensive monitor made me less productive even after a month of using it.
So I went back to a my old 1080p screen. Here is what I learned in the process:
4k screens can destroy your eyes
At least on macOS, the size of apps & notifications is not adjustable. Toolbar symbols, Tab-bar in Chrome, native apps on MacOS are not scalable.
Albeit you can increase font size of macOS apps a bit, you can’t scale / zoom into them like the content of a Chrome tab.
Apps like Paste, Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal and other apps are included in the list of apps that are not usable on a 4k screen.
Mouse speed & cursor size has to be adjusted to before you can work on the big screen, too.
Had to install “Desktop clock” to have a clock on my computer that I can actually see because the one in the taskbar was too small.
You might miss macOS notifications because they are at the very top on the far out right of your screen.
In total it took me some minutes of adjusting default setting in Chrome and macOS (cursor size, speed) to be able to go from notebook use only back to the 4k screen.
Apart from the 32'’ 4k monitor not being the cheapest, you can expect more expenses to follow. New windows opening up somewhere is probably second most annoying when choosing to work on a 4k screen. I tried four different apps to manage windows. I installed and tried out Magnet, BetterTouchTools, Divvy and at least two other apps to manage windows. All of them did approximately the same with various shortcuts that I had to learn. Spend another $30 on this and unreplaceable time learning shortcuts.
Oh, and I had to buy Thunderbolt HDMI adapter that supports 4k which was another $10.
Moving your head and eyes IS unpleasant.
Most apps take less space than what you get on a 4k screen. The “wasted space” on the table of a 4k screen (27'’ or 32'’) is quite huge. However, what really is fatiguing is moving your head and your eyes over the distance of the screen to go from one app to another.
For instance, text in tabs in Chrome isn’t not scalable, also many mac os apps (e.g., Textexpander) aren’t scalable because they are not optimised for it.
Scaling is a macOS setting that I tried to make use of but sadly it doesn’t work well, at least not on Macbook pro’s 2015. Also, many apps aren’t optimized for it.
Since you never have any app fullscreen, you tend to have something upon next to the main app that you’re running. If you want it or not, it will distract you.
Going back and forth between notebook only on the go and 4k screen was killing me in the end so I went back to an older setup.
No regrets about going back
Still don’t regret trying it out because it made me more aware of possibilities on macOS to play and adjust windows.
Also, because I couldn’t read tabs titles anymore I had to install a Chrome theme that highlights the most active tab, which turns out ot be very useful also after going back to my 1080p screen.
Turns out Alt+Tab and “Move focus to next Window” is a setting to switch between tabs of the same app (eg Chrome Windows) and keeping your eyes of on the same 24'’ resolution is better for productivity than 27'’/32'’ on 4k resolution.
What I do miss
Horizontal space was the biggest perk 4k gave me but this can bebe much better realized by a macbook and 90 degree turned 1080p screen next to it.
If you like my writing style, you might also like:
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- Why software engineers don’t get jobs: Four horror stories
- Nine reasons why I moved to Switzerland to work in tech
- Switzerland: How buying real-estate can kill you financially and two reasons to go for stocks instead
- Compassion — An efficient alternative to rigid Code of Conducts
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