Skip to main content

How to adjust display settings on the MacBook Pro (2021)

MacBook Pro 2021 Display Settings Hero
MacBook Pro 2021 Display Settings Hero (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) models are the first Macs to feature a Liquid Retina XDR display. These powerful displays allow customization missing on other Apple products.

Here's a look at how to adjust display settings on Apple's newest laptops, among the best MacBooks on the market.

How to change the resolution

To change the Resolution on your MacBook Pro (2021):

  1. Click on the Apple menu at the top left of the display.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Choose Displays.

To change the refresh rate, click on the Apple icon at the top left of the display. Select System Preferences, then click Displays. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Scaled if the Resolution is set to Default for display.
  2. To make text larger, click on one of the boxes to the left of Default. To make more space on the screen so you can see more things, click one of the boxes to the right of Default.

To change the resolution, click Scaled. Adjust to text size. (Image credit: iMore)

Change the refresh rate

The MacBook Pro (2021) and Apple Pro Display XDR include the ability to change the refresh rate. For professional workflows like video editing, you can set your display's refresh rate to align with the frame rate of the video you're using.

Available refresh rates include 60 Hertz, 59.94 Hertz, 50 Hertz, 48 Hertz, and 47.95 Hertz. Additionally, the MacBook Pro (2021) allows you to select ProMotion for an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz.

If you decide to adjust the refresh rate, choose the one that divides evenly into the frame rate of your content. For example, if the content you're viewing is 24 frames per second, select the 48 Hertz refresh rate.

To change the refresh rate:

  1. Click on the Apple menu at the top left of the display.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Choose Displays.

To change the refresh rate, click on the Apple icon at the top left of the display. Select System Preferences, then click Displays. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the Refresh Rate pop-up menu and choose a refresh rate.

To change the refresh rate, click the Refresh Rate pop-up menu and choose a refresh rate. (Image credit: iMore)

Adjust reference modes

You can also adjust reference modes on the MacBook Pro (2021). These modes cover typical content creation workflows across several media types.

To adjust reference modes:

  1. Click on the Apple menu at the top left of the display.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Choose Displays.

To change the refresh rate, click on the Apple icon at the top left of the display. Select System Preferences, then click Displays. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the Presets pop-up menu and choose a reference mode.

To adjust the reference mode, click the Presets pop-up menu and choose a reference mode. (Image credit: iMore)

You can also adjust the reference modes by clicking on the AirPlay menu, when applicable, on the menu bar, then clicking Reference Modes.

To choose favorite reference modes:

  1. Click on the Apple menu at the top left of the display.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Choose Displays.

To change the refresh rate, click on the Apple icon at the top left of the display. Select System Preferences, then click Displays. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the Presets pop-up menu.
  2. Select Customize Presets.
  3. Choose the reference modes that you want to use.
  4. Click Done.

To choose a favorite reference mode, click the Presets pop-up menu, then select Customize Presets. Choose Customize Presets, then choose the reference modes you want. Click Done. (Image credit: iMore)

To create custom reference modes:

Advanced users can also create custom reference modes tailored to unique workflows. In doing so, you can select from several color gamut, white point, luminance, and transfer function options.

  1. Click on the Apple menu at the top left of the display.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Choose Displays.

To change the refresh rate, click on the Apple icon at the top left of the display. Select System Preferences, then click Displays. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the Presets pop-up menu.
  2. Select Customize Presets.
  3. Choose the + icon at the bottom left.

To create custom reference modes, click the Presets pop-up menu, then select Customize Presets. Choose the + icon at the bottom left. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Choose a preset name.
  2. Make your adjustments.
  3. Select Save Preset.

To create custom reference mode, choose a preset name and make your adjustments. Choose Save Preset (Image credit: iMore)

Adjust brightness

To adjust the brightness on your laptop:

  1. Click on the Apple menu at the top left of the display.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Choose Displays.

To change the refresh rate, click on the Apple icon at the top left of the display. Select System Preferences, then click Displays. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Use the slider to adjust the brightness, if applicable.
  2. Check/Uncheck Automatically adjust brightness to match your needs.

To adjust the brightness, use the slider to adjust the brightness. Check/Uncheck Automatically adjust brightness as needed. (Image credit: iMore)

All done!

The MacBook Pro (2021) offers one of the best displays ever seen on a laptop. Use the handy built-in tools to adjust the display settings as needed, customizing your Mac experience further.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.