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Posted by on Jul 4, 2009 in Random | 2 comments

Improve Font and Screen Readability in Vista

Getting a little dodgy in the eyesight department? Working on a modern PC with a high resolution monitor? Struggling every now and again to click on those tiny icons with that tiny cursor? Then you’re just like me.

It seems that my eyesight decreases in inverse proportion to technology advancement. So what to do to make your Vista (or XP – I think it works in the same way) fonts and screen a little more legible and aging-user friendly?

Changing the display resolution from a high a lower value does increase the size of fonts and icons. But.....

.... it also reduces the visual sharpness and resolution of the elements on your display.

The traditional approach has always been to reduce the resolution setting for your display. This has the effect of resizing all of the programme and desktop elements and the take on a much larger appearance.

Whilst this might seem a reasonable solution at first, it really isn’t. All you’ve really gone and done is spend a bunch of cash on a high-end, high-res monitor, and reduced its’ performance back down to a so-last-century level. The crisp, sharp and clear fonts and icons are no longer. A little defeatist if you ask me.

But wait! There is another option. A better option, imho…

Notice that “Adjust font size (DPI)” task in the screenshot above? That’s the one we want…

Right-Click on the Desktop, and select Personalize

To get to it, Right-Click on any blank area of your Desktop, and select the “Personalize” option from the pop-out menu.

Selecting Larger scale will increase the Dots Per Inch displayed on your monitor from the default value of 96DPI to 120DPI. This should make text much more readable on high-resolution monitors

Then select the “Adjust font size (DPI)” task option – note that this an Administrator task, so make sure you are signed in as such.

This will open up the DPI Scaling dialogue screen. A quick click on the radio button alongside Larger scale (120 DPI) and we’re all set. Click the “Apply” button and restart the machine. This is a system-wide change, so a Restart will be needed

On the restart, you should immediately notice the difference. And without loss of screen resolution and fidelity. Everything should still be clear and sharp, and still be taking advantage of those high-resolutions that you paid good money for.

My Links list BEFORE switching to the larger DPI scaleMy Links list AFTER switching to the larger DPI scale

There are some application exceptions which don’t recognise the font scale increase, but certainly the majority of common end-user applications will have their visibility improved. Go check your Outlook email for example, or (if you’re using Internet Explorer) come back here and revisit this page to see the obvious effects more clearly.

And hopefully, your eyes will thank you just as much as you’re about to thank us in the Comments section below!


  1. Nice one, Well I won't say I like the tip, that would mean that I would be in need of it and would probably have to use it. Meaning that my eyesight is failing. SO I say nice one, because I can use this tip for some friends of mine.

    Or is this just perhaps me in denial. Any way, it's good to know.

    • Hi Robert

      Thanks for the dropping by and for the comment.

      As for using the tip – your avatar clearly shows you to be a sprightly, young & well-sighted person, so you're right – it would be entirely wasted on you 🙂

      Feel free to share it with all your more senior friends though!

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