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How to Fix Blurry Apple Retina Display Images

Recently, we stumbled across a big blog problem. We discovered that the newest Apple Retina Display was making all of our images look blurry to anyone viewing our work on one, and we had NO idea!

Let’s back up. For the past year, Amy’s 2011 Macbook Pro has been acting up. Freezing. Running slow. The rainbow wheel of death all. the. time.  We’d been wanting to replace it for months and months, but with our schedule so far this year, as crazy as it sounds, we just couldn’t find the time to trade it out… until this summer. We had a window of opportunity a few weeks ago where all of our most recent jobs were edited and out the door, and we didn’t have another one for a week. In Photography Land, we call this “The Greatest Thing Ever.” Are we right? Or are we right?!

So, we made a Time Machine backup of Amy’s old MacBook Pro, went to the Apple Store and bought a brand new Apple MacBook Pro Retina Display. For those who are technical, it’s got 16GB of RAM and a 512GB flash hard drive. For those who aren’t, it’s a pretty powerful machine, the fastest laptop Apple makes, and Amy was over the moon, because in her editing world, it’s like having a sports car engine that starts with the press of a button, growls, roars, and then drives 100 MPH like it’s gliding, versus the go-kart she had that started reluctantly after several pulls of the cord, putt-putted along, and crapped out without warning.

Needless to say, she’s getting A LOT done A LOT faster now. Our only regret is that we didn’t get it sooner!

Lots of people are curious why we do all of our editing on a laptop instead of a big desktop monitor, and our answer is that we are on the road so much that it’s the only way we can keep up! We actually wrote a whole separate post about how we edit on the road, which you can read here.

Problem #1: Blurry Images

There was, however, one problem we discovered just minutes after opening the box from Apple and turning on our new sports car: blurry Apple Retina Display Images. Every image that we’d ever posted on our blog looked blurry and, well, just bad. We don’t know how else to say it. Our website looked fine. Social media was pretty good. But our blog images looked like we didn’t know how to focus a camera.

At all. After a momentary panic attack — and threats to return the computer! — we collected ourselves and started problem solving. We started by setting Amy’s new computer and her old computer side-by-side, opening our blog to the same post, adjusting the brightness on both screens so everything was the same, getting down at eye level, and going back-and-forth between each photo. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left Right. Friends, we looked cray. Straight up. Like two cats following a string. But, after doing that do a few minutes, blinking a lot, closing our eyes, counting to three, and opening them, we came to the same conclusion: the photos on Amy’s Retina Display looked like a lower quality than the exact same ones on Jordan’s non-Retina Display. They looked soft, blurry, and pixilated.

Here’s an example of what was happening. Pay special attention to Jena’s eyelashes and hair. ZOOM IN if you don’t see it right away!! The photo on the left is what we were seeing on the new retina display, and the photo on the right was what someone on a regular screen would see. Can you see the difference? Ah! Zoom! Look at all the lost detail. The longer you stare at the retina version, the more it makes you feel like the whole world is blurry and pixel-y.

Blurry Apple Retina Display Images_0001

Whaaaat?! This thing was supposed to make images look better, not worse, right?We had another momentary panic attack and then we reached out to a friend who’s an amazing blog and website designer, because we figured she has to know what’s UP with this, right?! Yep. She sure did. Here’s what we learned…

Problem #2: Every Blog Image Was Blurry

In the past, we’ve always used BlogStomp to prep our blog and Facebook images. You can read a post we wrote about how we do that here. As long as we can remember, we’ve been “stomping” our blog images at 850 pixels wide, which is the width our blog format requires. What we learned — and, again, we’re not technical experts, but from what we understand — is that Apple Retina Displays have WAY more pixels than most other displays out there, including Apple’s old pre-Retina screens. On one hand, that’s great! It means that Amy’s screen is a higher quality. On the other hand, it’s bad, because a) since our images weren’t sized for Retina Displays, b) our photos look bad on Retina Displays, and c) a lot of our brides and photographers have Retina Displays, so it’s not a great representation of our work! Yikes!

If that didn’t quite make sense, we’ve been using another analogy in our house recently: our old blog images are like VHS tapes and Amy just upgraded to a DVD player. So, anyone else who’s out there without a Retina Display, you won’t notice a difference in our images at all. Everyone with a Retina Display, if you scroll back a few weeks, you will. Why? Because as soon as we realized the problem, we moved quickly to fix it! Within reason, of course. What do we mean by that? Well, for as much as we’d love to, we can’t go back a re-stomp every image on our blog that’s we’ve ever posted, re-upload them to WordPress, delete the old images in each post, and re-post them. That would take WAY too long. So, we’re just doing this instead going forward…

The Simple Solution

We doubled the width of our blog images in BlogStomp so that it’d be packed with double the pixels. That’s it! We went from 850 pixels wide to 1700. And it worked! When we put our computers side-by-side now, they look good on Amy’s computer and Jordan’s, too. But what should YOU do? Whether you have a Retina Display or not, we’d recommend doubling the width of your current blog images, because even if you don’t have a Retina Display right now, for A LOT of millennial brides and photographers who adore Apple (like we do!), they’re going to (most likely) be viewing YOUR images on a Retina Display in the next few years, if they haven’t already! And we’d HATE for your work not to best represent you when they do!

If you’re like us and didn’t know about this before, we’re glad you know now! If you’re overwhelmed (at first) like we were, you’re not alone! Just make it your goal from today forward to stomp your images wider knowing that it’s the future, and don’t worry about the past. You can’t control that anymore! Is this starting to sound like a Frozen song?!  Perfect.

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  1. Leah Otten

    August 20th, 2015 at 3:33 am

    Holy smokes, is it seriously that simple?! I am so so so glad I read this….and so so happy you posted! Yay to loving Stomp It again! Thanks friends! Cheers 🙂

  2. Starr Mercer

    August 20th, 2015 at 8:38 am

    THIS BLOG POST really hit home for me. I actually thought it was me or my eyes making the images blurry. Horray for you guys figuring it out and sharing!

  3. Jamie Delaine

    August 20th, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Love this, I recently started doing the same – doubling my blog image width since February!

  4. Malia Johnson

    August 20th, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    SO glad I saw this post!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  5. Ailyn La Torre

    August 20th, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    So happy you guys shared this! thank you!! Thank you!! I had a quick question…When I double my stomping size (in my case from 930 to 1860) and I post them in my blog…wouldn’t the size of my images be bigger on the blog too? this part confuses me :/

  6. Malia Johnson

    August 20th, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    I just ran into this same problem… maybe we’re not making the change in the right place?

  7. Ailyn La Torre

    August 26th, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Drew Brashler I know that ProPhoto will figure out if the viewer is a retina or a non-retina computer and display the correct image size for their computer. When writing the post with the large photos, they will look massive in the editor, but then display correctly in the preview and the final post.

    Per FB responder. I’ll give it a try and get back to you 🙂

  8. Clara Griffith

    August 25th, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Did you ever find out how to fix that? I’m having the same problem =[

  9. Ailyn La Torre

    August 25th, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I didn’t 🙁 I’ll try to reach out to Amy and Jordan via FB and update 🙂

  10. Ailyn La Torre

    August 26th, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Drew Brashler I know that ProPhoto will figure out if the viewer is a retina or a non-retina computer and display the correct image size for their computer. When writing the post with the large photos, they will look massive in the editor, but then display correctly in the preview and the final post.

    Per FB responder? I’ll give it a try and update 🙂

  11. Starr Mercer

    September 28th, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Trying this today. Thanks for the tip!!!

  12. Susanne

    January 14th, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Maybe a silly question – is it only a problem if you are using Blogstomp (I don’t have Blogstomp)?

    If I just work through my images in Lightroom and the maybe share through Dropbox, I don’t do any resizing, do I?

    And if I edit my photos in Lightroom and then want to use them for my Squarespace blog, what size would I use?

    Final question- if I do a session for someone and want to give them to pictures, what is an ideal image size (as for now I share through Dropbox)?

    Thanks for a great post!!

  13. Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake

    March 11th, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I JUST switched to a new MBP a few weeks ago and thought I was going crazy! Luckily one of my blog friends shared your solution with me. But now I’ve got a new problem: my blog is loading more slowly because the images are being resized within WordPress to fit the content width. Do you have a workaround for that too? And, I have contributed to a friend’s blog, and strangely enough, even though I made my images doubled, those same images look fuzzy on her blog, and fine on mine. Help!

  14. Amy & Jordan

    March 14th, 2016 at 11:12 am

    So glad that solution worked for you! Try using Blogstomp to systemize your photo process for blogging! Hope that helps 🙂

  15. Lorena

    June 14th, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Finally! 😀 I’ve basically stopped blogging because I couldn’t figure this out. Thank you so much! <3

  16. Amy & Jordan

    June 22nd, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Don’t stop!! You can do it!!

  17. CC

    July 14th, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    A to the Men! I still can’t believe that a $3500 computer makes images look bad but THANK YOU for writing this article. I have looked every where for confirmation of this, have played user tester from everyone from developers to framework creators, Canva, Photoshop and more, gone back and forth with tech support a million times and got virtually N-O-W-H-E-R-E. Do you have any concerns about image size and cache and loading speed – especially over time? I write a food and travel blog so we are LOADED with pictures (I mean A LOT of pictures) and doubling the size of every one from now to eternity quite frankly scares me to death! Can I also say that I can’t believe that someone hasn’t fixed this by now – I mean in the hardware or in WP or somewhere?! Just curious, did you also report these issues to Apple? Cuz’ I’d be on board with that message! Thanks again and if you have updates on this situation, please share them!

  18. Char

    September 17th, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I’m having this same problem. I used to do pixel art on a windows computer, and now that I have a 15” Mac Retina, I’m looking at my old artwork on the webpage and it’s appearing all blurry! However, when I save the artwork and open it in Preview, it appears clear??? Help!

  19. Brian Allen

    March 30th, 2018 at 11:02 am

    The problem is that most photographers and artists like myself have intentionally posted images at a lower resolution (below 800px) to help fight against theft (smaller resolution images won’t print well and are therefore harder to steal). Doubling the resolution to near 1700px means that the image could be printed at 8.5X11 and still look pretty clear. This is a problem.

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We help people take better photos and build successful photography businesses. We’re high school sweethearts, former elementary school teachers and professional photographers. We're experts at making the complex feel simple and believe education is serious business, but learning should be fun.

searcH

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3 Proven Tricks to Shoot Better & Edit Faster

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