Change Display Settings And Text Size
20 November 2006 (updated)
This article explains how to change your display settings to make text easier to read, increase the quality of graphics or choose a new appearance for your desktop.
If you find text too small to read comfortably, or get headaches from looking at your screen, you might not realize you can make simple changes to your Display settings to make things better.
You can also change your desktop background picture, add a screen saver, improve video and games performance, or even get a whole new look for Windows.
This guide shows you how to change settings such as resolution and refresh rate to improve your screen display. When altering any settings, remember to click Apply or OK to save your changes.
Alter your screen display settings
You can access your Display settings by right-clicking anywhere on the Desktop and then choosing Properties. You can also access these settings through the Appearance and Themes and Display icon in Control Panel.
You will now see the Display Properties window which has display settings arranged under five tabs - Themes, Desktop, Screen Saver, Appearance and Settings.
Under this tab you can choose a theme which will apply to all your Windows screen colours, icons and sounds.
Click on this tab to choose a different desktop background image. Choose an image from the samples available, or Browse to locate another image on your computer.
You can also set the background at any time by right-clicking on an image in your web browser or in a folder, and selecting Set as Desktop Background.
Click Customize Desktop to open the Desktop Items window, which includes two tabs - General and Web.
On the General tab you can choose which shortcut icons to show on the desktop or use Desktop cleanup to remove items that haven't been used in a while.
The Web tab allows you to display a web page directly onto the desktop.
Here you can choose a Screen saver which will appear when your computer has been idle for a specified amount of time.
These can help protect the image quality of the monitor if you regularly leave your PC for more than a few minutes. You can choose not to use a Screen saver if you find it annoying or if it interferes with other tasks.
If you select a Screen saver from the list you can see a preview and also set the idle time before it will start, and whether a password is required to use the PC when returning to the desktop - useful for privacy in an office or public environment.
You can also change the Power settings of your monitor here, including how long it should stay switched on if the PC is idle.
Under this section you can change the style and colours of your Windows and buttons, and the size of your fonts.
Click on the drop-down arrow buttons to choose different settings, which will be previewed for you in the picture above the options.
The Font size option is useful if you find text too small to read - set to Large Fonts or Extra Large Fonts as required. Click on Advanced to choose size and colour settings for individual screen items such as windows, borders, icons and menus.
Under this tab you can set screen resolution and colour quality.
Resolution determines the number of pixels across and down the screen that are used to make up the display. The higher the setting, the more detailed your display.
A higher resolution gives you a larger screen area to work with, but if you find text and icons are now too small you may need to increase font size and use larger icons to compensate.
You can only go up to the highest resolution that your monitor can support. Experiment to find a resolution you are comfortable with.
The Color quality option should be set at Highest (32 bit) for the best quality display. Click on Troubleshoot to get Windows Help topics if you have display problems.
Clicking on the Advanced button will bring up a new window with several new tabs - General, Adapter, Monitor, Troubleshoot, Color Management, and a tab for your particular graphics card.
If you have set a high resolution, increasing the DPI (dots per inch) setting here will make all screen items including text appear larger.
Information about your graphics card. Click Properties for details of the driver software you are currently using.
Here you can increase the Screen refresh rate. Some people are more sensitive than others to the speed at which the monitor screen is updated, and may find low refresh rates can strain their eyes and cause headaches.
Tick Hide modes that this monitor cannot display, then choose the highest refresh rate using the drop-down menu. Note that LCD monitors do not have this problem, and users of these should instead set the refresh rate to the setting recommended in your monitor manual, usually 60 Hertz.
You can change your graphics card performance using the Hardware acceleration slider. Usually you will want to leave this set at Full, but if you are experiencing graphics problems you can try moving the slider down a notch.
Allows designers and photographers to create colour profiles to improve quality for different screens and printers.
The final tab contains settings for your particular graphics card.
The advanced settings in this tab can be used for tweaking performance especially when running demanding 3D games. Useful guides for tweaking specific graphics card settings can be found at www.tweakguides.com.
You should also visit the web site of your graphics card manufacturer such as ATI or Nvidia, and download their latest driver software. Often, these driver updates contain fixes for graphics problems with certain programs or display configurations.
Alter your web browser Text Size
If you find text on web sites too small to read, you can change your settings through your browser menu by clicking on View (Page in Internet Explorer 7) then Text Size, and increase the size of the text. Depending on the way the web site was created, this may not work with all text on all pages. Sometimes web site text is programmed to stay at an exact size in order to keep it within a strict design layout.
Ask A Computer Expert
Ask your computer question and get an answer in minutes via e-mail from experts at Just Answer. Choose how much to pay and only pay if you like the answer.
Get more tips in your free Easy Computer Tips E-book
Most Popular Tips
Open compressed files
In Windows XP, open compressed Zip files by double-clicking them. Click and drag the files inside out to another folder or the Desktop to extract them.
more Quick Tips..
Software A - Z
BitDefender provide a range of security software to protect your PC while you use the Internet.
Computer Jargon Box
View our Computer Jargon page for explanations of common computer and internet terms used on this site.