Change your screen resolution

Screen resolution refers to the clarity of the text and images displayed on your screen. At higher resolutions, such as 1600 x 1200 pixels, items appear sharper. They also appear smaller so more items can fit on the screen. At lower resolutions, such as 800 x 600 pixels, fewer items fit on the screen, but they appear larger.

The resolution you can use depends on the resolutions your monitor supports. CRT monitors generally display a resolution of 800 × 600 or 1024 × 768 pixels and can work well at different resolutions. LCD monitors, also called flat-panel displays, and laptop screens often support higher resolutions and work best at a specific resolution.

The larger the monitor, usually the higher the resolution it supports. Whether you can increase your screen resolution depends on the size and capability of your monitor and the type of video card you have.

Picture of the desktop at a high screen resolution
Text and images are sharper but smaller at higher screen resolutions.
Picture of the desktop at a low screen resolution
Text and images are larger but often less sharp at lower screen resolutions.
Watch this video to learn how to change your screen resolution (1:10)

To change your screen resolution

  1. Open Screen Resolution by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, and then, under Appearance and Personalization, clicking Adjust screen resolution.

  2. Click the drop-down list next to Resolution, move the slider to the resolution you want, and then click Apply.

  3. Click Keep to use the new resolution, or click Revert to go back to the previous resolution.

Picture of resolution options in Screen Resolution
Screen Resolution in Control Panel shows the recommended resolution for your monitor.

Native resolution

LCD monitors, including laptop screens, typically run best at their native resolution. You don't have to set your monitor to run at this resolution, but it's usually recommended in order to ensure you see the sharpest text and images possible. LCD monitors generally come in two shapes: a standard proportion of width to height of 4:3, or a widescreen ratio of 16:9 or 16:10. A widescreen monitor has both a wider shape and resolution than a standard ratio monitor.

If you're unsure of your monitor's native resolution, check the product manual or go to the manufacturer's website. Here are typical resolutions for some popular screen sizes:

  • 19-inch screen (standard ratio): 1280 x 1024 pixels

  • 20-inch screen (standard ratio): 1600 x 1200 pixels

  • 22-inch screen (widescreen): 1680 x 1050 pixels

  • 24-inch screen (widescreen): 1900 x 1200 pixels

For more information, see Getting the best display on your monitor.

Notes

  • When you change the screen resolution, it affects all users who log on to the computer.

  • When you set your monitor to a screen resolution that it won't support, the screen will go black for a few seconds while the monitor reverts back to the original resolution.