How to Use Windows 10 Display Scaling

Make displayed text, icons, and navigation elements easier to see

Illustration of a man sitting at a table typing on a laptop with large, colorful letters bursting forth

Lifewire / Nick Reiter

Larger text often makes words easier to read on a screen. But larger characters alone don't necessarily make a computer easier to use, if all the icons and navigation elements remain relatively small. Display scaling makes everything on the screen a bit bigger, which makes applications easier to use for people with less than perfect vision.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10.

Why You Want to Use Display Scaling

The Windows 10 display scaling system adjusts the size of text, icons, and navigation elements to make a computer easier for people to see and use.

You can adjust the display scaling for your Windows 10 device, as well as for any external displays. For example, an adjustment to display scaling can transform a display from one with small text that is difficult to read into a screen that is easier to see. Or, scaling may also make it less challenging to open, run, and use apps on a projected display.

The Windows 10 display scaling system selects the size based on several factors, such as the native display resolution, the dimensions of the screen, and the anticipated distance from the screen. The distance from the screen, for example, assumes that a laptop display will be closer to a viewer’s eyes than an external monitor and that a projected display will be viewed at an even greater distance.

Screen resolution is a separate setting from scaling.

How to Turn on Display Scaling in Windows 10

To adjust Windows 10 display scaling requires that you choose a scaling percentage. Here's how.

  1. Go to the Windows Start Menu.

  2. Choose Settings.

    Screenshot of Settings in Start Menu
  3. Select System.

    Screenshot of Windows Settings
  4. Select Display.

    Screenshot of Display settings
  5. Look for Scale and layout. Select an option, such as 125% or 150%. Displayed items will appear larger as the scaling increases.

    Screenshot of scale options in Windows Display settings
  6. Your display will re-size.

How to Adjust Scaling for Multiple Displays or Custom Sizes

You can adjust display scaling for your main display and connected displays. Place your cursor and select the rectangle for the display you want to scale, such as display 1 or display 2, etc. Then adjust scaling for the selected display. This allows you to adjust scaling for each display separately.

Select Advanced scaling settings to adjust scaling from the standard 100% to as much as 500%. In this setting screen, you may manually enter a custom scaling size. However, different scaling settings will work better on different displays. In some cases, you may see blurry characters, words that are cut off, or text too large or small for a specific space. Older programs, in particular, may not fully support modern Windows 10 display scaling features.

The Advanced scaling settings also give you access to an additional setting that will ”Let Windows try to fix apps so they’re not blurry.” However, this adjustment only applies to your main display, not any external displays.

Troubleshooting Display Scaling in Windows 10

Not all apps scale well, especially on high-resolution displays, also known as high DPI (dots per inch) displays. Follow these steps to override Windows display scaling settings for a specific app. Don’t make these adjustments or changes unless absolutely necessary. (See 4K Ultra HD Resolution (Overview, Details, and Implications) for additional help with configuring a high-resolution display.)

  1. Select the Windows Start Menu.

  2. Right-click the app, choose More and select Open file location.

    Screenshot of More > Open File Location in right-click menu
  3. Right-click the app in the Programs folder, select Properties and choose the Compatibility tab.

    Screenshot of Properties in right-click menu
  4. Select Change high DPI settings.

    Screenshot of Change High DPI Settings
  5. Select Open Advanced Scaling Settings. The Scaling Settings window will open.

    Screenshot of Open Advanced Scaling Settings in Properties window
  6. Select Let Windows Try To Fix Apps So They're Not Blurry.

    Screenshot of Advanced Scaling Settings
  7. Check the app again. If the issue is not resolved, enter a custom scaling size in the Scaling Settings window.

If you’ve installed custom graphics hardware and software, you might not be able to adjust display scaling within the Windows system settings. Third-party software that controls a graphics card, for example, may take precedence over Windows system display settings. You can often access and adjust third-party graphics software from your Windows system tray (typically found in the lower right corner of your screen).

If you use older programs, you may discover that some applications don’t honor Windows display scaling settings. In either case, it may be time to either upgrade your system to Windows 10 or contact the application developer for assistance.