The reason for this behavior is that MATLAB R2013b (or R2014a) includes a version of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) that does not currently take advantage of the full display capabilities on MacBook Pros with Retina displays. As a result, MATLAB R2013b will look less sharp than many other Mac applications, including earlier releases of MATLAB. A workaround is to install and use a newer JRE, and restrict your desktop to certain fonts and sizes.
Here are some options for improving the visual appearance of MATLAB:
Open in Low Resolution
This option is the simplest to execute, but it only provides a slight improvement. After completion of these steps, the MATLAB Desktop will appear pixelated, but not blurry. To use this option:
1. Open a new "Finder" window and navigate to the "Applications" directory.
2. Select the MATLAB icon and choose "File" > "Get Info".
3. Check the option "Open in Low Resolution".
4. Launch MATLAB.
Change the Display Settings
This option is also simple to execute, but it changes your Mac's display settings to shrink all content and give the appearance of more space. Because the application is smaller, the blurriness (or pixelation, if combined with the "Open in Low Resolution" option) is less noticeable. To use this option:
1. Choose "System Preferences" from the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen.
2. Choose "Display" to open the display settings.
3. In the "Display" tab, ensure that the "Resolution" type is set to "Scaled".
4. Select the option for "More Space". This will decrease the size of the content on your screen and offer more space.
5. Launch MATLAB.
Change the JRE Used by MATLAB
This option requires more advanced steps, but it will enable MATLAB to use the full Retina Display capabilities. This procedure involves downloading a different JRE and pointing MATLAB to use that JRE instead of the one that is shipped with MATLAB. It also applies only to MATLAB that is launched from Terminal. To use this option:
1. Install Java Runtime 7u45 or newer (but not the forthcoming Java 8) from Oracle’s web site: (Some users experience the cursor insertion pointer issue with u45 as well. But this was not observed in later releases like u60)
2. Launch the "Terminal" application and set your MATLAB_JAVA environment variable to this JRE as described at:
3. From that same "Terminal" window, execute the following command to launch MATLAB:
The MATLAB Desktop should now appear crisp.
4. With MATLAB as the active application, choose "MATLAB" > "Preferences" from the menu bar. In the preferences window, navigate to "MATLAB" > "Fonts".
5. For the "Desktop code font" preference, start with one of the following combinations that have been shown to work:
Monospaced, Courier, or Consolas plain, 8 point
This should give you a crisp display with a correctly drawn cursor in the Editor and Command Window. You will know you have a working combination when the cursor placement is correct when typing a long line in the Command Window. There may be other fonts and font sizes that work; you can continue to experiment until you find a setting that works well for you. Note that other windows that accept text input may continue to draw the cursor at an incorrect location. This will be most noticeable when a line of text grows in length, beyond 40 characters or so.
Further Background Information:
R2013a and previous releases of MATLAB for Mac used Java that comes bundled with OS X; however, starting with MATLAB R2013b, MathWorks migrated to Oracle's Java 7 instead of the one bundled with OS X. This is to ensure the continued availability of MATLAB on Mac computers because Apple is in the process of deprecating its Java support.
A subsequent update with support for Retina displays, Java 7u40, was released in September 2013. Unfortunately, this update contains incomplete support for Retina displays—while visually attractive, the cursor insertion pointer is drawn at an incorrect location with many font sizes.
It is hard to know exactly where the cursor is, making editing text significantly more difficult. We now understand that choosing specific fonts and font sizes can mitigate the issue. All text editing fields can be impacted to some degree, but it is most noticeable and bothersome in the Editor and Command Window.