New Vivid app doubles brightness of mini-LED screens for Mac


The new app Vivid can just about double screen brightness on mini-LEDs for Mac (but not iPad).
The new app Vivid can just about double screen brightness on mini-LEDs for Mac (but not iPad).
Photo: Jordi Bruin

When you watch HDR videos on the mini-LED screens of a Pro Display XDR or a 2021 MacBook Pro, the displays can crank out up to 1,600 nits of brightness. But under most conditions, they’ll emit about 500. So a new app called Vivid, by developers Jordi Bruin and Ben Harraway, now offers to double usable screen brightness under all conditions.

“Full Brightness, System-Wide,” reads the app’s tagline.

New Vivid app doubles screen brightness of Pro Display XDR and MacBook Pro

Bruin launched an app in March that uses AirPods to help improve users’ posture. But the new Vivid app aims at Mac power users who want to really brighten up their screens on Macs with mini-LED screens, which would include the two mentioned above and maybe others later.

According to Harraway, Vivid achieves the extra brightness without employing any hacks or low-level system calls. Instead, the app relies on “a clever mixture of different technologies including Metal, Carbon, Cocoa, Swift, SwiftuI, and even some C code” to double the MacBook Pro and Pro Display XDR’s usable display brightness.

“We knew that the Metal framework was capable of reaching extended brightness modes on macOS, but it was tricky to find the exact approach that would allow us to use this outside of our own application,” said Harraway.

No matter how useful you might find it to greatly brighten your display (or not), note that it will increase battery drain on a MacBook Pro.

Should be safe for displays

But the developers said it shouldn’t compromise the displays. As Apple has noted in the case of it’s pro-level external display, “Pro Display XDR can sustain 1000 nits of brightness across the full screen. This means that a pro can edit an HDR photograph or video with the entire frame at 1000 nits of brightness, indefinitely.”

However, you should note the mild disclaimer about the app:

Vivid does not use low level display hacks to push your display to levels it shouldn’t go. The temperature of your displays will increase by between 5-10%, but macOS will limit the max brightness if necessary. Note that while we believe Vivid is safe to use, we can not be held responsible for any damage that occurs to your display as a result of using this software.

While using Vivid, you can adjust the brightness with your keyboard’s brightness keys or toggle the app on and off. A split-screen mode can show you the difference between 500 and 1,000 nits of brightness on the screen.

As Bruin explained in a video:

The first thing I tried when I got the new MacBook Pro last year was to see how bright the screen could go when watching HDR videos. Five minutes later I decided I was going to spend the next month trying to find ways to unlock this higher brightness across the entire system. (…) My first approach was to create a fully transparant HDR video that I could overlay on top of the system. Unfortunately macOS is smart enough to notice that there is nothing to be displayed in a completely transparant video.

When users install Vivid for the first time, it will run in split-screen mode. Users can make half the screen go into full brightness mode. “This allow users to check if Vivid works for your particular usecases,” the developers said.

Though the regular price of Vivid is 15 Euros (or equivalent), for 72 hours after launch you can apply a 20% discount with the code VIVIDLAUNCH.

Price: $16.45

Where to download: Vivid on Gumroad



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