Apple’s Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ to support resolution independent UI, larger icons

“The next major release of the Mac OS X operating system will include technology that will eventually grant users more control over the way application windows are displayed to the screen. According to reliable sources, Apple Computer’s Mac OS X 10.4 ‘Tiger’ OS will introduce developer support for resolution independent user interfaces (UI), breaking the software assumption that all display output is to be rendered at 72 dots per inch (DPI),” Kasper Jade reports for AppleInsider.

Jade reports, “The new Quartz-driven technology will soon let users choose between viewing more detail (more pixels per point, but fewer points on the screen) or a larger user interface (fewer pixels per point but more points on the screen) without altering the resolution of the computer’s display… In order to support resolution independent UI, sources say that Apple will be updating Icon Services in Mac OS X Tiger to support icons that are 256 x 256 pixel in size. The most recent version of Mac OS X supports icons up to 128X128 pixels in size.”

Full article here.


  1. I really don’t understand, excepet the fact that the icon size will now be 256×256. I don’t get the points / pixels mention, but that’s okay.

    It sounds sweet!

  2. Ya, have a 23″ display so that size of icon might be fun. They would suck in my PowerBook tho. I already have them big. Any bigger and i’d only be able to get 4 icons on my desk top. But I love the Mac way of doing things. It’s all cool no matter what.

  3. The new Quartz-driven technology will soon let users choose between viewing more detail (more pixels per point, but fewer points on the screen) or a larger user interface (fewer pixels per point but more points on the screen) WITHOUT ALTERING THE RESOLUTION OF THE COMPUTER’S DISPLAY.

    Show what does this really mean?

  4. Meat of Moose,

    What I hear them saying is that for all intents and purposes you can view things at what appears to be greater resolution i.e. in greater detail (via software wizardry) without actually having to change the screen resolution (via hardware). Of course, I could be wrong; I frequently am. Sounds to me like this could be somewhat related to the zoom feature of the Universal Access preference pane.

  5. Let me try to explain. Some others did, and did it good, but there’s still some confusion I notice.

    Your screens is used best at its highest resolution (ignoring refresh rates on CRTs for this explanation) because then it shows as many pixels as it can, which is good obviously. Currently the trade off is that everything gets smaller. There here mentioned technique allows to show everything at a desired size, but still using the highest resolution of the display.

    So to give an example, show your picture in PhotoShop at its best without having all its dialog so small you can’t read them.

    I would be very happy if this technique would come to Tiger. It would make OS X truly the most advance OS! (It already is of course!)

  6. Could it has something to do for example with the fact that in Photoshop, a photo looks great at 100%, 50% or 25%, but doesn’t at 33.33% ?

    Just guessing…

  7. Absolutely a great feature.

    My wife has a blue clamshell iBook with an 800×600 screen that we use for couch surfing. I frequently wish I could reduce the point size of the menus on this computer because they frequently bunch up. I have to scroll through the system prefs pane on this machine.

    I have a 21″ monitor that I hook up to my Powerbook that I run at 1600×1200. Unfortunately at that resolution the text is small enough that it is barely visible. Being able to increase the size of the text in palettes, dialogs and menus would greatly reduce the number of headaches I get.

  8. With the resolutions that a 30 inch display can do, Apple needed to increase the maximum size of icons. I hope the file menu can also be scaled so that text can be read on it without a magnifying glass.

  9. It’s really simple and should have been done a LONG time ago.

    Since the first Mac the Mac OS (even System 0.92 I used way back when) assumed the screen was 72 dpi (most likely based upon the typographic 72.023 points per inch [IIRC]).

    Ever run a 20 inch (viewable), 3×4 aspect screen at 1600×1200 going into Word, InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator, XPress, etc. looking at things at 100%? They’re much smaller than they really are.

    When a screen as far back as the Radius models of the 80s used 120 dpi things shown at “100%” were actually 60% of real size — an 8.5 x 11 document showed up as 5.1 x 6.6, and 36 pont type showed up as 0.3 inches on the screen rather than the real 0.5 inches. With the new Apple screens all approximately 100 pixels per inch a document shown at “100%” shows up on screen as about 72% of its REAL size.

    Since the late 80’s I’ve thought there needed to be a way for the system to show things in truly real size. I never understood why monitor manufacturers could not figure out some way to signal to the OS the size of the screen. A 17″, 20″, 23″ or even 30″ viewable screen should signal to the OS that it is that size. Then the OS could, based upon the type of screen and resoultion picked (say a 20″ viewable, 3×4 aspect, 1600×1200 resolution), figure out what 100% and actual size really are (in this case 133 ppi rather than an assumed 72 ppi). Then things could be shown at their real size (scaled to real size rathen than at 54% in this example like is done in Panther).

    The question is how will this information get into the system. Will it be done in the monitor preference panel? Will it be selectable (and changeable) on the fly? Will it depend upon the user knowing what type/size monitor s/he has? Will the OS be able to read it directly from the monitor itself — and if so how? Will the default be the old 72 ppi or the new Apple “standard” 100 ppi based upon their current monitors?

    The biggest problem is compute power. Using the screen ppi as a variable requires a fair amount more computing than using a single, fixed, hardcoded number. With the new “Core Graphics” (or whatever it will finally be called) this is supposed to be handed off to the graphics card whenever possible. If you have a decent or high end graphics card this new capability should not be a performance hit.

    Personally, I can’t wait for something I’ve wanted since the original Mac II came out.

  10. Silicon Graphics uses an operating system for its workstations called Irix. For over a decade Irix has been using vectors for it’s icons so the largest displays showed icons as big as any consumer displays of the time. Perhaps Apple should take OS X a step further ahead by using poligon-based icons. Surelly any new Mac has enough graphical power to handle this.

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