It's no secret that Windows doesn't look great on high-resolution, high-DPI monitors and multi-monitor setups. Microsoft has tried several times to fix this problem with updates, but things are still not as good as they should be.
Although Windows 10 launched six years ago, users have to make a lot of manual adjustments to keep the graphics looking good on high DPI monitors.
This is where the scaling of the display comes into play. Let's see how you can scale the graphic on Windows to better fit your display.
What is display scaling?
Display scaling refers to adjusting UI elements such as images and text so that they look good on your display. On monitors with high DPI, the scaling of the display should make the text appear sharper and the images razor-sharp.
It all sounds good on paper, but Windows leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to scaling the display.
Traditionally, programs scale their graphics according to the existing pixels. For example, on a 1080p monitor, the software scales to map its visual elements to around two million pixels. The same graphic would have to be set to eight million pixels on a 4K monitor.
And this is where problems arise.
First, the text elements look much smaller on displays with high DPI values because they need to be mapped to individual pixels. So readability is a hit.
Second, if you are using multiple monitors, the graphics will not scale well, especially if the monitors are of different sizes and resolutions.
To address the per-pixel scaling problem, Microsoft introduced bitmap scaling. Bitmap scaling works just like a digital zoom. Essentially, Windows takes the graphics and distributes them across the display. You can imagine how this can lead to a loss of clarity and detail.
Fortunately, if you have problems with scaling the display, you can manually adjust things to your liking.
Display scaling on a single monitor
Press to adjust the display scale on a single monitor Windows Key + I. Enter to open the Settings panel display in the search bar and select the first result. This will open the Display Settings panel.
Well under Screen resolution, Make sure your display's native resolution is selected. For example, if you're using a 1080p monitor, choose 1920 x 1080 from the drop-down list.
Next, look below Scale and layout and see what scaling factor Windows applied by default. With a 1080p monitor, the scaling factor is set to 100%. With a 4K monitor, the factor is often set to 150%. If you are not satisfied with the default factor, change it to your liking.
If you want to enlarge the graph, increase the factor. On the other hand, if you want to make UI elements smaller, decrease them.
After changing the factor, make sure to log out and log in each time. Some parts of Windows won't reflect the changes made to scaling until you've signed out and signed back in.
If none of the scaling options are sufficient for you, click Advanced scaling settings.
In the Advanced Settings area, select the option Let Windows try to fix apps so they aren't blurry. As the name suggests, this setting enables automatic scaling of the display. This may not work for all apps, especially if you run multiple monitors.
If nothing works, you can try entering a custom scaling size in the box below Custom scaling. Remember, always try small steps first as you can set a large scaling size that will make it harder for you to find the setting later.
View scaling options for discrete GPUs
Aside from the built-in scaling settings in Windows, you can also tweak things further if you have a discrete AMD or Nvidia GPU. Since these settings are more geared towards gamers, they are unlikely to solve any significant scaling issues.
Display scaling for AMD GPUs
If you're using an AMD GPU, right-click anywhere on the desktop and select AMD Radeon software. Navigate to the Display tab. Under Display options, make sure GPU scaling is disabled and Scaling mode is set to Maintain aspect ratio.
With GPU scaling, retro games are upscaled to the native screen resolution. Activating it is of little or no use to normal daily use, but it does lead to a delay in input. So only enable it if you want to play retro games.
The scaling mode, on the other hand, controls how an image is displayed on the screen. Maintain aspect ratio maintains the aspect ratio of the image and does not stretch the image to fit the display. This will add black bars around the image.
center Turns off all types of image scaling and only centers the image. Again, black bars appear around the image if the resolution does not match your display.
In the end, Complete panel Scaling mode stretches the image to fill the display.
Display resolution for Nvidia GPUs
The procedure for Nvidia GPUs is almost the same as for AMD GPUs. Right click anywhere on the desktop and select Nvidia control panel.
Once you're in, navigate to Adjust the size and position of the desktop is located on the left under display.
Next, select the scaling mode you want. Proceed to Aspect Ratio if you are not sure what to choose as this is the default.
Show scaling for a multi-monitor setup
If you have multiple monitors with different sizes and resolutions, you will need to adjust each monitor individually. Failure to do so could result in correct scaling on one display and mess on the other.
So press Windows Key + I. Enter to open the Settings panel display in the search bar and select the first result. In the Settings area at the top of the page, select the monitor that you want to configure. The rest of the steps are the same as mentioned above.
Don't forget to sign out and sign in after changing the settings.
After configuring the monitor, drag a window onto that monitor and see if everything looks good.
Do the same for all monitors.
Show scaling for individual programs
Even after adjusting all sorts of display scaling settings, some programs can still scale poorly. For example, on 4K monitors, it's common for programs to have tiny, fuzzy text. To solve this problem, you can leave the scaling to the program itself.
Go to the folder where the program is installed, right click the program icon and select properties.
Then click on compatibility and then click on Change the high DPI settings.
In the dialog box that appears, select Override the scaling behavior with high DPI and choose application from the drop-down list. With the application setting, the program can bypass system-wide scaling and define its own scaling parameters for monitors with high DPI.
The easy way to improve display scaling in Windows 10
While the scaling settings won't fix every problem encountered with high DPI monitors, you can fix many problems by using the default settings. Windows has come a long way since it was released. And it gets better when more and more people use high-resolution monitors and multi-monitor setups.
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About the author
(7 articles published)
By Fawad Murtaza
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