Developers Jordi Bruin and Ben Haraway released an app called Clear It allows the new Apple MacBook Pro and Pro Display XDR models to achieve twice the brightness at the system level — something that wasn’t previously possible.
Background: Apple says the MacBook Pro’s new 14- and 16-inch MiniLED display can reach 1,600 nits of peak brightness in highlights or 1,000 nits of brightness on fullscreen. This is virtually unparalleled in consumer laptops or desktop monitors – it’s closer to the realm of what you’d expect from a high-end TV.
But while some HDR video content will benefit from this in the highlights, the normal desktop computing experience isn’t much brighter than what you get on another monitor. macOS keeps things around 500 nits unless the content you’re watching specifically calls for more — and most content doesn’t.
Vivid overcomes this limitation by using a “clever mix of different technologies. These include Metal, Carbon, Cocoa, Swift, SwiftUI, and even some C icons” to increase overall brightness to roughly twice the normal maximum when using any desktop app, according to for one of the developers.
However, the application is not always fully baked. If you frequently swipe between desktop spaces, you’ll find that your screen will take a moment to properly resolve after each switch. It seems to fade for a while when first moving into a new space. Furthermore, colors can appear incorrect in certain video content.
Vivid’s effect is impressive when it works, though. It’s vibrant, looks cool, and can resist sunlight glare as hard as any laptop. There’s even a nice, neat extension to the normal on-screen brightness meter for macOS that indicates whether you’re within the normal brightness range or the newly unlocked extended range.
An app license key costs around $16, but you can take it for a spin before you buy. However, the free version only works half the screen at a time. It shows you the difference, but cutting the screen in half defeats the purpose until you pay.
According to the FAQ on the app’s website that cites Apple’s documentation, using Vivid is unlikely to pose any risk to your devices. And its effect on performance is relatively small. However, running your laptop at twice its usual brightness all the time will have a huge negative impact on battery life.
The FAQ also says that if Apple makes any changes to macOS that cause Vivid to stop working, Vivid developers will strive to update the app to make it work. If the developers are not successful after three months, they say, they will be open to issuing refunds.
If you play with its limits, you can Download Vivid from their website.
Picture list by Clear
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