Monitor resolution too high

Artman’s laptop screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1200, which makes text too small and hard to read. He asked for help in the Windows forum.

The obvious answer is to lower the screen resolution in Windows – and back in the days of CRT monitors, that was the correct answer too.

But LCD monitors have a fixed physical resolution, usually called native resolution. They can only display lower resolutions by converting the image by adding pixels to make, say, a 1680×1050 graphic fill a 1920×1200 screen. This inevitably distorts and blurs the image.

To understand why, consider these two images:

The one on the left, with an 8×8 resolution, has a red frame that takes up exactly 1/4 the height and width of the screen. But when the resolution is converted to 10×10, these dimensions become impossible to achieve. The red box must be either too big or too small. Although varying the colors around the edges may make the difference less obvious, the result is inevitably a compromise.

Of course, these distortions will be much less extreme with a 1920×1200 screen than with a 10×10.

A better solution is to change the Windows Dots Per Inch (DPI) setting. The more pixels Windows uses to draw a thumb or to draw a ten point font, the more text and objects will appear on the screen.

Here’s how to make this change in three versions of Windows:

Windows 7: Click on To start up and type display. Click it To display option that appears directly under the “Control Panel” subheading. Select the option of your choice.

View: Click on To start up, type personalizationselect Personalization (you probably won’t have to type more than “nobody”). Click on Adjust font size (DPI) in the left pane. Select the 120 DPI option for a 25% increase, or click the Custom DPI button in the lower right corner. You will need to reboot for the change to take effect.

XP: Right-click an empty spot on the desktop and select Properties. Click it Settings tab, then the tab Advanced button. On the General tab, select the tab DPI setting scrolling menu. Select the 120 DPI option for a 25% increase, or click the Custom DPI button in the lower right corner.

XP needs to search for fonts. I hope you will be told that he found them. If so, you won’t have to insert your Windows disk when prompted.

While the change in Windows 7 and Vista affects everything on the screen, XP only changes the fonts.

Read the original forum discussion.

Add your comments to this article below. If you have any other technical questions, email them to me at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful people on the PCW Answer Line forum.

Edward N. Arrington