Whether you’re gaming, streaming movies, or working, screen resolution problems ruin the experience. Fixing the issue depends on the cause, which can range from hardware to settings problems. Windows 10 offers a variety of settings to customize your screen resolution to best fit your monitor type and situation.
Common Causes of Screen Resolution Problems
Most screen resolution issues come down to one of the following causes:
- Settings aren’t optimized or have been changed
- Installing a new monitor
- Windows Update problems
- Driver issues
- App-specific issues
- Hardware problem (monitor, graphics card)
While everything else involves changing settings, if you have a hardware issue, you’ll likely need to replace the failing hardware. This happens as screens wear out. However, if you’re trying to play a game or watch something in a higher resolution than your graphics card and screen support, you’ll have issues no matter what you do. The signs that this is the problem include:
- Flickering screen
- Screen randomly going black or staying black
- Fuzzy screen no matter what settings you change
- Lines through the screen
- Certain colors are off
In this case, you’ll need to choose a lower resolution before playing or watching anything. For instance, YouTube allows you to change the video quality, which helps it to display better and stream faster.
For the other issues, tweaking a few settings is often all you need to do.
Windows Update Issues
Before diving into your display settings, let’s take a look at Windows Update issues. If your screen-resolution problems didn’t begin until right after installing a Windows Update, the issue is normally caused by an update changing your display settings or changing your display/graphics driver.
Adjusting the Resolution
You can solve many screen resolution problems in Windows 10 just by adjusting the resolution. Windows updates, apps, second monitors, and more can all change your default or custom settings.
Right-click anywhere on your desktop and choose “Display Settings.”
Scroll down until you see “Display resolution.” Open the drop-down box to view your options. Typically, the “recommended” option is what’s best for your current screen. However, test out other options to customize the resolution for you.
From the Display settings, you can also adjust the brightness, scaling, and the settings for additional connected screens.
If you need a brighter or more vibrant display, and HD is supported by your monitor, click “Windows HD Color settings.” You’ll only be able to change the settings if your monitor supports them, which mine doesn’t, so no HDR games and video for this writer.
You can also access advanced settings by clicking “Advanced display settings” in the Display settings. Select the display you want to change to view details, then click “Display adapter properties for Display” at the end of the details.
From here, you can adjust the adapter properties, screen refresh rate (Monitor tab), and the color management (Color Management tab).
For something so necessary for hardware to work properly on Windows 10, drivers cause many problems sometimes. For example, a flickering screen is often a driver issue. Drivers are often the culprit behind stretched screens, fuzzy resolution, poor refresh rates, and more. They can also make your screen look more like a Windows 95 desktop than the modern, crisp look we’re all used to.
Windows 10 updates may help fix screen resolution problems if the update includes an improved driver. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a good place to start. While Windows loves to force updates automatically, you can run a manual check, too.
Open the Start menu, type “Windows Update” and click “Windows Update Settings.” If Windows doesn’t list any updates or doesn’t automatically check for new ones, click “Check for updates.” Otherwise, you may need to un-pause updates if you’ve paused them.
If updating doesn’t work, you’ll need to update the driver manually. Right-click the Start menu and choose “Device Manager.”
Expand “Display adapters.” Right-click your display adapter and choose “Update driver.” Follow the prompts to search for and install a new driver.
If you’ve installed a new monitor, expand “Monitors” and do the same thing with your new monitor.
If you continue having issues, right-click your display adapter and choose “Uninstall device.” Restart your computer and let Windows reinstall the driver automatically. You can also visit your display adapter’s manufacturer’s website to download the latest driver directly.
If you’ve recently installed a new game, app, video player, or anything similar, the app may be to blame for the screen resolution problems. This is especially true if the resolution problems only occur within that specific app.
Check the app’s settings for resolution or display settings. Also, check the app’s requirements to ensure your screen supports the optimal resolution settings. No setting will fix an app that needs a higher resolution than your screen can offer.
Trying to connect a second monitor with no luck? Try these fixes for getting Windows to recognize your new monitor.