Slideshow: Adjust DPI scaling in Windows 7

You'll choose Display in the Control Panel section

Do you have a video card along with a widescreen LCD monitor that has a native resolution that is so high that text and other graphical elements, such as icons, appear small? If so, chances are that you've lowered the resolution a couple of notches to make a bit easier to see. However, doing so isn't an ideal solution because most of these setups don't look all that great when configured at a setting that is lower than the LCD's native resolution.

Fortunately, with Windows 7's DPI Scaling tool, you can use your widescreen monitor at its native resolution and still make the text more easily readable and other graphical elements larger. In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to get a better view by taking advantage of the DPI Scaling tool.

The deal with DPI

DPI stands for Dots Per Inch and is a measurement of resolution. While DPI is a more appropriate measurement for printing and PPI, which stands for Pixels Per Inch, is a more appropriate measurement for monitors, DPI is the more commonly used term.

In the case of monitors, DPI refers to the number of pixels present per inch of the screen. Of course, it is more common to think of monitors as having a screen resolution. For example, a screen resolution of 800 x 600 is made up of 480,000 pixels while a screen resolution of 1280 x 1024 is made up of 1.3 million pixels. Of course, the higher resolution renders a much better image than a lower resolution, but since the number of pixels per inch of screen is greater, graphical elements such as fonts or icons tend to be smaller.

The default DPI scale setting in Windows 7 is 96 DPI and it is an old standard. While this setting has served us well for a number of years, the higher resolutions now supported by widescreen monitors mean that the default setting of 96 DPI may not be an optimal setting. Widescreen monitors typically have a native pixel density of 120 DPI and 144 DPI.

To overcome this problem, Windows 7's DPI Scaling tool will allow you to bump up the size of text and other graphical elements, like icons, so that they better fit the native DPI on widescreen monitors while retaining their higher resolution clarity.

Changing the DPI Scaling

To change the DPI Scaling setting, click the Start button, type Display in the Search box, and choose Display in the Control Panel section of the results, as shown.

By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.