How to Adjust the Screen Resolution Setting in Windows

Tutorial on Picking a Different Screen Resolution in Windows

Screenshot of the Advanced display settings screen in Windows 10
Screen Resolution Settings (Windows 10).

Adjusting the screen resolution setting might be necessary to resolve issues with the display size on monitors and other output devices like projectors.

Be sure to see the tips at the bottom of this page for some helpful advice if you run into problems changing the screen resolution.

How to Change Screen Resolution Settings in Windows

The steps for changing the screen resolution are quick and pretty straightforward, but there are slight differences depending on your version of Windows.

  1. Open Control Panel from the Power User Menu (Win+X keyboard shortcut) if on Windows 10 or 8, or the Start menu in older versions of Windows.

    Tip: You can open Control Panel from the Run dialog box or a Command Prompt too, with the control panel command.
  2. Open Appearance and Personalization (called Appearance and Themes in XP) or skip down to Step 3 if you're viewing the Control Panel applets by their icon.
  3. Choose Display or, if on Windows Vista, Personalization.
  4. To find the screen resolution setting in Windows 10, 8, or 7, select Change display settings from the left side of the screen. If on Windows 10, also click or tap the Advanced display settings link.

    Windows Vista users need to use the Display Settings option.

    In Windows XP, this can be found in the Settings tab of Display Properties.
  5. Use the drop down menu or slider next to Resolution (XP calls it Screen Resolution) to pick a different resolution setting.

    Under most circumstances, the best choice is 800 by 600 pixels or 1024 by 768 pixels, possibly higher if you're using a 19" or larger monitor. The "best" setting is highly subjective to your personal preferences.

    Note: Some types of software require the screen resolution settings to be set at a specific size. If you receive errors when opening certain software titles be sure to make any changes here as necessary.

    Important: Before continuing to the next step and applying the changes, understand that if you set the screen resolution too high, the screen will probably go blank. See Tip 3 below to see what you should do if that happens.
  1. Click or tap Apply or OK to save the changes. A reboot is unnecessary.

 

Tips:

  1. Another way you can change the screen resolution setting in some versions of Windows is to right-click the desktop and choose Display, Screen resolution, or Properties, depending on the version you're using. Then, just follow the same steps above.
  1. If more than one monitor is shown, you can change the resolution for each monitor individually. Just click the monitor you want to adjust the setting for. If you're not sure which monitor is "1" or "2" or so on, click the Identify button - a number will appear on each monitor.
  2. It's possible to change the screen resolution to a setting not supported by your monitor. If this happens, the screen will probably turn black and prevent you from seeing anything, including your mouse.

    Fixing this is a simple as starting Windows in Safe Mode and then following the directions above. This time, just make sure to lower the resolution to something that's likely supported by your monitor.

    If Safe Mode doesn't work, try choosing the Enable low-resolution video option in Startup Settings (Windows 10/8) or Advanced Boot Options menu for older versions of Windows (it's called Windows Advanced Options Menu in Windows XP, and the option is called Enable VGA Mode).


    If you have another monitor you could connect to the computer - one that supports the higher resolution, it might be quicker to do that in order to change the resolution rather than boot Windows into Safe Mode.