How to Change your Screen Resolution in Windows 7 for easy reading and viewing

Does the text on your Windows 7 monitor seem too small to read easily even though you have a large monitor?

Does it seem strange (or even annoying) that you have a really nice large LCD monitor (say 22” inches or larger) but the text to is too small and hard to read?

The good news … if you have a good computer with a really good graphics card, or built-in graphics capability, is that you can likely change the screen resolution to make it easier to read and use your computer.

This is a service I provide as part of helping clients purchase and install new computers … or as part of just helping clients get better use from their computer as they hire me for other things. This article won’t get into every nuance of how, what, why and all possible options. But I hope this article will help a few people that find this to be an annoyance. That the information provided might shed some light on what you can do to improve upon this situation. I’ve written this with the idea that you can take action and try the things below on your own. However – should you proceed to do this on your own you need to take personal responsibility for doing so and personal responsibility for any results, good or bad. If you want help then I am always available for hire and would be happy to help.

There are likely to be some of you that find you don’t have the range of options I show below. If that is the case and this is a problem don’t give up. An upgrade to a better graphics card and/or different monitor can open up the world of possibilities as described below. If you find that you are one of the cases that might require an upgrade to do this then I highly suggest you seek hired professional computer help such as myself or other computer technician to save you time, frustration and most likely save you from purchasing wrong or over-priced upgrade components.

So let’s go over what to do …

I think to do this it’s best if you exit from most of your applications you have running. Most are very good at doing the right thing if you change your screen resolution while they are running but for the best results and to minimize the occasional misbehaving application it’s just better to save your work and close up your applications you are using.

Once you have all your window’s closed or minimized so that you can see your ‘desktop’ background …

RIGHT click (NOT left click) your mouse on the desktop background area and you should see a menu that looks like this:

Select “Screen resolution” from that menu.

Windows 7 should now open up a window similar to what you see below with a few pull down menu options (‘Display’, ‘Resolution’, ‘Orientation’, etc).

[Note: Right NOW is a good time to take note of what the current ‘Resolution’ setting is just in case you decide later you want to return to this setting. Go ahead – do it right now – write it down on a sticky note or notepad. In my case I would note: “1680 x 1050”. You are likely to have a different answer for your specific situation.]

Continuing on …

In the window that opened up for you, you want to select (LEFT click with your mouse) the “Resolution:” pull down menu as I have done in the example below.

Your choices will likely be different than my own example which is specific to my monitor and computer but the idea is the same. The “recommended” setting at the very top is nice and will make the best use of your high quality display – HOWEVER for many people the TEXT is too small to comfortably see and read on the screen and they really don’t need or just can’t use this setting.

The “Low” (lowest) setting in the list is likely to be very undesirable as that will produce VERY large text but you will also likely need to scroll around in almost every window you use. This would not be desirable.

If this article is of interest to you then you are going to be looking for THE ‘BEST’ COMPROMISE of LARGER and EASIER to read text that still provides very good HIGH QUALITY and good use of your large monitor. If this is the case for your then typically you will want to choose one of the marked (or labeled) MIDDLE choices provided in that up-down slider of choices. If you are fortunate to have a nice size display and good graphics for your computer then you will have one, two or three of these middle choices available for you to choose from.

Choosing from one of the higher ‘middle’ choices should provide you with the benefit of easier to read text and still have LOT’s of space to use for viewing using your large monitor.

NOTE: Choosing from one of the ‘labeled’ options usually results in a MUCH quality result than choosing an option that is not labeled. Although you CAN many times find that you can adjust the ‘slider’ on that menu to an option that is not marked … you should know that those options that are the few marked (or labeled) are the ones that Windows has determined would be your best choices for your monitor and graphics capability of your computer. Choosing an option that isn’t one of those marked by Windows may result in images, photos and text on your screen that look too short and wide or on the other hand, too skinny and tall. You may also find that the quality isn’t as good if you instead were to choose one of the ‘labeled’ settings.

So in the example above – though you can’t see it (because it’s not labeled) … I can to move the slider for my screen resolution to 1024 x 768. (That’s actually a very old but common resolution for older smaller monitors.) However it doesn’t look very good on my system. The quality and overall user experience will be MUCH better for me to choose 1280 x 800 (a labeled option) than to choose the unlabeled option of 1024 x 768.

Also note … the ‘higher’ the resolution you can comfortably choose (meaning the text may be small but you can enjoyably read the text on the screen) the better you will be with how much you can see on the screen and how much space you have for windows and/or allowing you to have larger windows open to show you more text without needing to scroll so much. So always try and see if you can be happy with the higher setting if you have two or more good options for you to choose from. You will be happier having more screen area, if you can read the text OK, if you choose the higher resolution setting.

Next – you need to click ‘OK’ or ‘Apply’ so you can tell Windows to use new setting so we can try it out. When you click ‘OK’ or ‘Apply’ on the above window, Window’s will use the new settings but ONLY for 15 seconds depending on how you answer the question in the window that will pop up once you make that mouse click on ‘OK’ or ‘Apply’.

Once you click ‘OK’ or ‘Apply’ here’s the window you may see:

You will only have 15 seconds to make your next move! (That’s ok. If 15 seconds go buy and you don’t make your move you will just end up at the last big window above and can click Apply or OK and try again!) I have highlighted in green, in the window above, the ‘countdown’ of the limited 15 seconds you have to make your choice.

If you are able to see the above window CLEARLY then I suggest you click on “Keep changes” and then we will proceed to check a few things to see if you really do like the new settings. The trick is that you only have 15 seconds to click “Keep changes”. If you miss the 15 seconds that’s ok. That small window will close and your display settings will go back to what they were before and you get another chance to click “OK” or “Apply” again and another chance to try to click on “Keep changes” before the 15 second countdown!

However, if you don’t like what you see, or your display is changed in a way that you can’t clearly see the small confirmation window, it’s text and buttons and other aspects of your desktop don’t look right then don’t sweat it. Just don’t click on anything and just wait for 15 seconds to pass and Windows will automatically revert back to your original settings.

Let’s assume you liked what you saw and you successfully clicked “Keep changes”. Let’s test it out!

I recommend testing a few key things with your new display settings. Basically you want to run the applications I suggest below as well as any of your favorite applications. You want to see if you like the way things look! If you don’t like the new settings then go back to the top and set the resolution to something else.

Applications for testing out your new screen settings

These are just suggestions. Most important would be for you to test (run) applications that you use on your computer on a regular basis. Some examples I suggest: surfing the Internet with your favorite browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, AOL, etc.); use whatever method you use to get your email; if you use Microsoft Word or some other office or accounting application run it and try it out; games you like – try them also; etc.

Overall you are judging whether you are happy with your new screen resolution setting. That you like the size of the text and can read it well. That you like how large you can make the windows you use. That hopefully things are clear, you can read the text OK and see images just fine and you don’t have to scroll side-to-side a lot to see the windows you use most. You see – there’s a balance and relationship between the size of the monitor you have, the resolution setting you have set, how large the text and images are and how large or small the windows are (which can affect whether you need to do a lot or little scrolling to see their contents.) There’s no one answer that suits everyone as we are all different with what our needs are and how we will be using our computer. But having a larger monitor and a PC that can output good graphics (and provide you with several ‘resolution’ options) will give you more freedom to hopefully find a setting that suits your needs best!

Always remember – if you don’t like the way things look with your new settings then follow the above directions to try a different setting or return it back to the original setting (you did follow my recommendation to write down what your original setting was didn’t you?)

Finally – there are completely different controls for adjusting JUST the size of ‘text’ and others items such as the size of your desktop ‘icons’. I don’t like or recommend adjusting these settings as your first option if you have a 22” or larger monitor and your goal is to make things easier to see and read. If you can make an adjustment with the resolution as suggested above and are pleased with the outcome then GREAT! Leave the ‘text’ size and other size options alone. If the above just doesn’t cut it for you then in another article we can talk about adjustments to JUST the ‘text’ and ‘icon’ size. As a preview to my main ‘problem’ with just changing the ‘text’ size … it’s been my experience that not all applications or web pages respect and make use of the adjusted ‘text’ size setting. So the biggest downside if you were to play with that the ‘text’ size setting is that you may have larger text in some windows and small text in other windows. Worse case you may see both large and small text in the same window and it may affect how things look and are arranged in the window in a rather undesirable way. So first see if you can make your adjustments using just your resolution controls as described in this article and be happy with those results!

I hope this has been helpful to a few of you with newer computers with rather large monitors and being surprised at how hard it is to read and make good use of the large monitor.

If you desire help on this you can always reach me at or visit

– David

David Ingalls

About David Ingalls

Owner/Chief Tech & Ingalls Computer Services,
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2 Responses to How to Change your Screen Resolution in Windows 7 for easy reading and viewing

  1. Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.

  2. For me using a lcd screen which makes use of an IPS panel is vital. I do significant amounts of video/photo editing and graphics design, consequently serving correct colors is very important. Plus the fact the viewing angles of IPS panels are infinitely better. My cousin owns a TN LCD monitor and you can’t even tilt your head without the colors changing. With any luck OLED monitors will come without delay. These even make IPS panels seem inadequate.

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