Change Screen Resolution on Headless OS X Server

I recently set up my old Mac mini as a server. I replaced it a few months ago with a Mac Pro, and wanted to muck around with OS X Server, taking advantage of some of its features, especially centralized Time Machine backups and software download and update caching.

I set up the server, but, since I’m running it headless – with no attached display – I could only view it in one resolution using OS X’s screen sharing feature. If the Mac mini runs headless, the GPU, not detecting any display, doesn’t activate.

There’s a way around this, however, and it’s pretty simple. I bought this CompuLab HDMI Plug with Remote Desktop Access, or 4K Display Emulator (the name is different on the two Amazon sites, Amazon.com and Amazon UK). This $25/£21 dongle fits in the Mac mini’s HDMI port, and emulates the presence of a display. With this attached, there are a number of different resolutions, from 1360 x 768 to 4088 x 2304.

Mail002.png

I’ve chosen a low resolution, since running it at, say, 4K resolution makes interface elements so tiny that I can’t do anything. The only downside to me is that all the resolutions are 16:9; I’d have preferred something with less width.

This is a really simple solution to an annoying problem. If you’re running a headless OS X server, you should definitely get one of these. It will make your life a lot easier.

8 thoughts on “Change Screen Resolution on Headless OS X Server

  1. “…and wanted to muck around with OS X Server, taking advantage of some of its features, especially centralized Time Machine backups and software download and update caching.”

    One very minor quibble. OS X Client allows for centralized Time Machine backups, (which I’ve been using for years on my Mini server that runs Client), although Server does add a few rather inconsequential bells and whistles to the process.

  2. “…and wanted to muck around with OS X Server, taking advantage of some of its features, especially centralized Time Machine backups and software download and update caching.”

    One very minor quibble. OS X Client allows for centralized Time Machine backups, (which I’ve been using for years on my Mini server that runs Client), although Server does add a few rather inconsequential bells and whistles to the process.

  3. If I go to the Displays tab of the Displays panel of System Preferences and hold down option when I click the “Scaled” radio button I see many more resolution options than I do normally. Have you tried this to see if you can get any resolutions that aren’t 16×9?

    • You mean on the Mac mini? I haven’t, and the Mac mini is offline right now. I’ll try and check later or tomorrow.

  4. If I go to the Displays tab of the Displays panel of System Preferences and hold down option when I click the “Scaled” radio button I see many more resolution options than I do normally. Have you tried this to see if you can get any resolutions that aren’t 16×9?

    • You mean on the Mac mini? I haven’t, and the Mac mini is offline right now. I’ll try and check later or tomorrow.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.