How do I improve the image on my monitor or TV?

If you're using Windows Media Center to watch TV on your computer, the image on your monitor or TV might be stretched, or there might be unnecessary margins around the image. This means that the aspect ratio is incorrect. You might be able to fix the problem by adjusting the display settings in Windows Media Center.

Picture of Windows Media Center showing margins on each side of the screen
An image displayed at the wrong aspect ratio in Windows Media Center

Before changing any settings in Windows Media Center, make sure that the display settings on your monitor or TV hardware are configured correctly, and that you are using the best available connection to connect the computer to the display. The correct type of connection is based on the video ports available on your computer and the type of TV or monitor that you have. For information about the different types of video connections, see Connect your computer to a TV.

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To change the aspect ratio for a specific channel in Windows Media Center

If you're having problems with the image aspect ratio on only a few TV channels, you can use the Zoom feature to change the dimensions for those channels.

  1. While watching TV, right-click the picture, and then click Zoom.

  2. Click Zoom a second, third, or fourth time to cycle through the four different zoom modes. Select the mode that eliminates the margins and expands the image appropriately.


  • Zoom options might not be available for some digital TV channels.

To change the overall aspect ratio in Windows Media Center

If you're having problems with the image display on all channels, as well as the Windows Media Center interface itself, change the general display resolution from widescreen display (16:9) to standard display (4:3), or vice versa.

  1. On the start screen, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click General, click Windows Media Center Setup, and then click Configure Your TV or Monitor.

  2. Follow the instructions, and when prompted to choose a display width, click Standard (4:3) or Widescreen (16:9).

  3. Select the appropriate display resolution, and then complete the instructions as needed. You might need to try more than one resolution setting to find the one that looks best on your display.


  • The easiest way to find out if your overall display settings are incorrect is to look closely at the Green Start button Picture of the Green Start button in Windows Media Center, usually located in the upper left corner of your screen. If the button looks flattened or stretched (as opposed to circular), then the resolution in Windows Media Center is probably on the wrong setting.


  • Windows Media Center is a feature available only in Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate.

  • An analog or digital TV tuner is required to play and record live TV in Windows Media Center. If your computer did not come with a TV tuner card, you might be able to add one. For more information about obtaining a TV tuner card, see Get help for your TV tuner card or contact your computer manufacturer.