There is a fix!
I have a 30 inch monitor running at 2560 x 1600 with my Mac Mini and the outrageous $99 adapter from Apple. (Found it new for $60 on eBay.)
My menu bars and Google Chrome's tabs and bookmark bar were both way too small - like 4 point!
TinkerToolSystem, (not TinkerTool) allows you to go into hidden preferences and re-set to "HiDPI." Afer making the adjustment which doubled my DPI, I had to choose half the resolution 1280 x 800, but with no loss of real resolution! Things did get bigger elsewhere but I was able to adjust most of them. Hooray! GL!
Download the Evaluation copy of TinkerToolSystem. You get to open it 5 times for free.
About halfway down, under "Screen."
For Snow Leopard
By default, Mac OS X assumes that the display screen is rendering graphics with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch. This policy was taken over from the classic Mac OS. While this basic assumption was true when the Macintosh was introduced more than 20 years ago, today's display devices often have a much higher resolution. The pixels have become smaller, so your screen may actually use e.g. 100 pixels per inch. In practice, this means that graphical elements, for example fonts, will be displayed too small, so a 12 point font selected in an application might no longer match the actual size of a 12 point font printed in a book when you compare screen and book side by side.
To accommodate these changes, Mac OS X is capable of using arbitrary display resolutions. TinkerTool System allows you to change the resolution between 36 and 216 pixels per inch. If the screen display stays the same, the screen contents will be displayed larger when you set a higher resolution, and smaller when you set a lower resolution.
For Lion and Mt.Lion
Apple has removed the feature from the operating system that allowed to control the physical resolution of screen output by an infinitely variable factor. As of 10.7 or later, this function was replaced by the feature HiDPI (High Number of Dots per Inch) which allows to double the physical resolution only. This means you can select between the discrete values 72 ppi and 144 ppi (or 288, 578, … ppi in the far future). Other magnification steps or scaling down are no longer available. The HiDPI strategy allow OS X to be used on ultra-high-resolution screens (“retina displays”).
Enabling the HiDPI feature requires two steps. The first step is to unlock HiDPI mode via TinkerTool System. The second step is to select one of the HiDPI display resolutions on the pane Displays ofSystem Preferences. Perform the following steps to work with HiDPI display modes:
- Select the item Screen in the pane System.
- Switch between the two possible modes Hide HiDPI resolutions and Display HiDPI resolutions.
- Log out to let the change take effect.
When you log in again, you can launch System Preferences, go to Displays and choose one of the HiDPI settings shown in the table Display > Resolutions.
WARNING: The display resolution is a very critical setting. If you set the resolution too high, the windows can become so large that they no longer fit on screen. This means you can no longer see or control all parts of some applications which can make your system unusable!
To use the system with 144 ppi, a screen with at least 2048 x 1536 pixels is strongly recommended, because OS X applications are designed by the rule that they can expect windows to have a minimum size of 1024 x 768 pixels at 72 ppi.
The Retina Displays may lead to a software update and then we will all be happy.
Is there one master setting to increase the font size? I just purchased a brand new Apple Thunderbolt display, and the small font size is killing my eyes.
Command +. This works when i read emails on MS outlook. But, i have to do it for every email. Also, it doesn't work when i draft emails on MS outlook. For longer emails, i have to draft in MS word (with zoom) and then copy into the MS outlook email.
Pinch zoom. This works when browsing. But, it doesn't help on emails.
Reducing display resolution. This helps. But, then why spend so much money for a Thunderbolt display?
I was having this same issue, then I found another article that solved my problem.
You'll need to download something called Retina DisplayMenu here (direct download link).
After it downloads, it should show up in your top menu bar. Click on it, and for the thunderbolt display I select "1920 x 1080 (HiDPI)" It doesn't get things to the same size as they are on the MBP retina, but it helps a lot. If you want them at the same size as the MBP Retina, you can watch this video. Hope this helps!