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Configuring the Monitor

Windows lets you get the most out of your display hardware with these settings:

Screen resolution is the amount (fineness) of detail in your screen’s image, expressed in pixels wide by pixels high. (A pixel is the smallest building block of the display.) Conventional screens have resolutions of 640 × 480 (largely useless except in emergencies), 800 × 600, 1024 × 768, and 1152 × 864. High-end monitors support resolutions up to 2048 × 1536 and higher.

Color quality ranges from 16 ugly colors for archaic Standard VGA to 4 billion colors (32 bits per pixel) for the best monitors and video cards. The number of colors available correlates to your resolution setting—most video cards display fewer colors at higher resolutions—so you may have to reduce resolution to get higher color quality. The available resolution and color choices adjust automatically. If your digital photos look blotchy, increase color quality.

Refresh rate is the frequency at which the screen is redrawn to maintain a constant, steady image. Higher refresh rates yield less flicker. A refresh rate below 72 hertz, or 72 times per second, can tire your eyes if you look at the screen too long.

Color matching ensures that colors are represented accurately and consistently across color printers, scanners, cameras, monitors, and programs. Without color management, onscreen and printed colors can vary greatly: Orange can appear brown, green can appear blue, and so on. Graphic designers love color matching because it does away with trial and error in resolving color differences. Color matching requires a separate color profile (.icm file) for each device connected to your computer. This profile conveys the device’s color characteristics to the color management system every time colors are scanned, displayed, or printed.

Tips

  • Changing these settings affects all users who log on to your computer.

  • Don’t always choose the maximum resolution available. If you spend most of your time typing Word documents or reading email, you may find that medium resolution reduces eyestrain. For general use, try 800 × 600 on a 15-inch monitor, 1024 × 768 on a 17-inch monitor, or 1152 × 864 on a 19-inch monitor.

  • Flat-panel screen (laptop or desktop) images may look fuzzy at less-than-maximum resolutions.

  • Video-card memory largely determines the maximum resolution and color quality that you can use. To see how much video memory you have, In Control Panel, choose Appearance and Themes > Display > Settings tab > Advanced > Adapter tab > Adapter Information section (Figure 4.24).

    Figure 4.24. Better video cards have 32 MB or more of memory—overkill for word processing and email but barely enough for gaming.

  • To adjust the monitor for vision impairments, see “Accommodating Disabled Users” later in this chapter.

  • For notes on installing and configuring peripherals, see Chapter 8.


To set screen resolution and color quality:

1.
In Control Panel, choose Appearance and Themes > Display > Settings tab (Figure 4.25).

Figure 4.25. As you increase the number of pixels, you display more information on your screen, but the features—such as icon titles—get smaller.


or

Right-click blank space on the desktop; then choose Properties > Settings tab.

2.
Drag the Screen Resolution slider to set the display size.

3.
From the Color Quality drop-down list, choose the number of colors.

Choose Medium (more than 65,000 colors), High (more than 16 million colors), or Highest (more than 4 billion colors).

4.
Click Apply.

5.
If Windows asks you to confirm settings, click OK.

Your screen briefly turns black and refreshes with the new settings.

6.
After your settings change, you have 15 seconds to accept the changes (Figure 4.26).

Figure 4.26. If your new screen settings look good, click Yes; otherwise, click No, or just wait, to revert to your previous settings.


Tips

  • If you have more than one monitor (driven by multiple video cards or by a single card that supports multiple monitors), the Settings tab displays a monitor icon for each monitor. Click a monitor icon to activate it before choosing its resolution and color settings.

  • If you need a 256-color display to run an older game, don’t set your entire system to 256 colors, even if it’s available. Instead, use the Compatibility feature; see “Running Older Programs” in Chapter 6.

  • Click the Troubleshoot button to start the Display Troubleshooter, which helps you resolve flicker, installation, video, multiple-monitor, resolution, and other problems.

  • The Advanced button lets you view the hardware properties of your monitor and video card. You can adjust some settings usually don’t need to unless you’re installing a new driver, setting color matching, or changing the refresh rate.


To set the refresh rate:

1.
In Control Panel, choose Appearance and Themes > Display > Settings tab > Advanced > Monitor tab (Figure 4.27).

Figure 4.27. To reduce eyestrain, choose the highest refresh rate that your monitor and video card support, but check the documentation or the manufacturer’s Web site to find out what the hardware will accept.


or

Right-click blank space on the desktop; then choose Properties > Monitor tab.

2.
If you have multiple monitors, in the Monitor Type section, select the monitor that you’re working with currently.

3.
In the Monitor Settings section, choose a refresh rate from the drop-down list.

4.
Click Apply.

5.
If Windows asks you to confirm settings, click OK.

Your screen briefly turns black.

6.
After your refresh rate changes, you have 15 seconds to accept the change (refer to Figure 4.26).

Tip

  • Don’t clear the Hide Modes That This Monitor Cannot Display check box to choose a higher refresh rate. A refresh rate that exceeds the capabilities of your monitor or video card can distort images and damage hardware.


To manage color profiles:

1.
In Control Panel, choose Appearance and Themes > Display > Settings tab > Advanced > Color Management tab (Figure 4.28).

Figure 4.28. The Color Profiles list shows all color profiles associated with the current monitor and video card (none, in this case).


or

Right-click blank space on the desktop; then choose Properties > Color Management tab.

2.
To add a color profile, click Add; then use the Add Profile Association dialog box to select a color profile to associate with the current monitor (Figure 4.29).

Figure 4.29. Color profiles installed with the monitor and video card are stored in the \Windows\System32\Spool\Drivers\Color folder.


or

To remove a profile, select it; then click Remove.

or

To set a profile as the default for the current monitor, select it; then click Set As Default.

3.
Click OK.

4.
In the Display Properties dialog box, click OK (or Apply).

Tips

  • I’ve only touched on color management here. To learn more, search for color management in Windows Help and Support Center.

  • Right-click a color profile (.icm file) in Windows Explorer to install it or associate it with a device.


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