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How to change your screen resolution in Windows 10

Want a sharper desktop wallpaper but the screen resolution is just too low?
By
June 10, 2022

You finally swapped out that crusty old monitor for a flat, widescreen display with a higher resolution. You fire up Windows 10, and everything on the new screen is big and ugly. That’s likely because your PC is still set at the lower resolution used by your previous display. This article will show you how to change your screen resolution in Windows 10.

Our guide covers setups with one or more displays. It also shows you how to pick specific resolutions with specific refresh rates and create a custom resolution on Nvidia-based systems. This guide is based on Windows 10 version 1809 (October 2018 Update).

Read more: The best monitors for work and play you can get

QUICK ANSWER 

To change resolution on Windows 10, right-click on your desktop, and click Display settings. Scroll down to Resolution, and click the box under it. Select the resolution you want from the dropdown menu. Select Keep changes if the resolution works as expected or click Revert if not. You can also go to Display settings through the System tab in the Settings app.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to change screen resolution in Windows 10: The short route

Windows 10 Display settings

Right-click on your desktop and select Display settings on the menu.

Windows 10 Display Resolution

Scroll down to Resolution and select your desired resolution in the dropdown menu.

Windows 10 keep display changes

Select Keep changes if the resolution works as expected or Revert if the setting causes issues.

If the new resolution distorts the screen to the point where you can’t make any changes, Windows 10 will automatically revert to your original resolution after 15 seconds. For the best experience, choose the resolution listed as Recommended.

More: How to stream the Xbox One to Windows 10

How to change screen resolution in Windows 10: The long route

Windows 10 access Settings

Click the Start button and select the gear icon on the Start Menu. This opens the Settings app.

Windows 10 Access System

Select System.

Windows 10 Display Resolution

The Display category opens by default. Scroll down to Resolution and select the resolution you want in the expanded menu.

Windows 10 keep display changes

Select Keep changes if the resolution works as expected or Revert if the setting causes issues.

If the new resolution distorts the screen to the point where you can’t make any changes, Windows 10 will automatically revert to your original resolution after 15 seconds. For the best experience, choose the resolution listed as Recommended.

Related: How to enable dark mode in Windows 10, Office, and Microsoft Edge

How to change screen resolution in Windows 10 for multiple displays

Windows 10 multiple Displays

You can change the individual resolutions if you have two or more displays.

  • Take the Short or Long Route above to access the Windows 10 Settings app Display section.
  • As shown above, you should see two or more rectangles with numbers. In our example, we have two monitors connected to a laptop. The “1” represents the primary laptop display. If you’re duplicating the Windows 10 desktop to external monitors, the resolution you set on Display 1 will be the same across all connected displays if they support that resolution.

If your desktop is in Extended mode, click the rectangle associated with the screen you want to modify.

Windows 10 Display Resolution

Scroll down to Resolution and select your desired resolution in the dropdown menu.

Windows 10 keep display changes

Select Keep changes if the resolution works as expected or Revert if the setting causes issues.

If the new resolution distorts the screen to the point where you can’t make any changes, Windows 10 will automatically revert to your original resolution after 15 seconds. For the best experience, choose the resolution listed as Recommended.

Related: The best mini laptops you can buy in 2019

How to change refresh rates in Windows 10

If you only want to change the resolution without dealing with refresh rates, your journey ends here. This section deals with selecting a specific resolution and refresh rate, like 1,920 x 1,080 at 75Hz. It’s a good place for gamers to experiment with resolutions and refresh rates to get the best experience from their connected display(s).

Windows 10 Advanced Display Settings

Right-click on the desktop and select Display settings or take the Settings > Display route through the Settings app. Scroll down to the Advanced display settings link.

Windows 10 List All Modes

Under Choose display, select the display you want to modify in the dropdown menu. Click the Display adapter properties for Display # (whatever you just chose) link.

In the pop-up window, click the List All Modes button. Select a resolution and refresh rate in the second pop-up window. Click OK, then Apply.

Windows 10 keep display changes

The resolution will change. In another pop-up window, select Keep changes if the switch worked as expected, or click Revert if the switch didn’t work correctly. Windows 10 will automatically revert to your original setting at 15 seconds if you can’t see anything on your screen.

Related: How to split your screen in Windows 10

How to create a custom resolution (Nvidia)

Display manufacturers program a list into their displays containing stable resolution and refresh rate combinations that work correctly on their product. Windows 10 uses this list to present your resolution options in the Settings app. But there’s a chance your display can “unofficially” go higher than Windows 10’s recommended setting.

For instance, your PC’s graphics card may support a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution at 120Hz, but Windows 10 has you capped at 2,560 x 1,440 at 60Hz. This limit is based on the display manufacturer’s “safe” list but doesn’t mean you can’t go higher with a little experimentation. The drawback to pushing a higher resolution and refresh rate combo is that you could damage the display, so experiment at your own risk.

As noted, this guide is based on PCs that include a discrete graphics chip provided by Nvidia (GeForce).

Windows 10 Nvidia Control Panel

Right-click on the desktop and select the Nvidia Control Panel option in the resulting menu.

Nvidia Control Panel

On the left menu in the Nvidia Control Panel, select Change resolution. Note that you can take this route versus using the instructions provided in the routes above. Select the display you want to customize and click the Customize button.

Nvidia Create Custom Resolution

In the pop-up window, check the Enable resolutions not exposed by the display option and click OK. If you still don’t see the resolution you want, click the Customize button again. Click the Create Custom Resolution button.

Nvidia Test Custom Resolution

In the next window, you’ll see options to set the horizontal pixels, vertical lines, refresh rate, color depth, and more. Again, this customization tool isn’t meant for the Average Joe and could damage your display. Here are a few notes:

The number of pixels in a single line from left to right. We list sample numbers in bold:

  • 1920 x 1080 (Full HD or 1080p)
  • 2560 x 1440 (Quad HD or 1440p)
  • 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD or 2160p)

The number of vertical scan lines crammed into the screen from left to right. We list sample numbers in bold:

  • 1920 x 1080 (Full HD or 1080p)
  • 2560 x 1440 (Quad HD or 1440p)
  • 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD or 2160p)

How many times the display renders an image each second. If you have a graphics card that outputs 60 frames per second, you want the display set at 60Hz.

Renders the entire picture at once, which reduces flickering.

Half the image appears, followed by the second half 1/60th of a second later. This causes noticeable flickering.

By default, this is set to Automatic. You shouldn’t need to change these settings if your display is connected via DisplayPort or HDMI. This section addresses DVI ports and analog CRT-based monitors.

Click the Test button to see if your custom resolution works. The screen(s) will go black for a moment. With the right number combination, you should see a pop-up box revealing a successful test. If you want to keep the new resolution, click the Yes button. If not, click the No button. Windows 10 will revert to your original working resolution in 15 seconds if the test distorts your screen to the point you can’t see anything,

Nvidia Edit Custom Resolution

You should now see the new resolution in the Customize window. You can edit this setting by clicking the marker icon next to its name, delete it by clicking the red “X,” or activate it by checking the box. Click OK to close the Customize window.

Nvidia Set Custom Resolution

The custom resolution is now available through the Nvidia Control Panel and the Windows 10 Settings app. To set your display to the new resolution in the Nvidia Control Panel, click the setting and then the Apply button.


More: How to do a System Restore on Windows 10