Windows Vista Tutorial

Configure your display settings in Windows Vista

Customizing display settings in Windows VistaThis tutorial shows you how to configure the Display Settings in Windows Vista: display settings control your screen resolution (the amount of pixels displayed on your screen), let you access the advanced graphics card options for your monitor, allow you to customize the number of colors Windows uses, and let you manage multiple monitors (for example having a flat display panel connected to a laptop, and using both screens simultaneously).


Loading Windows Vista's Personalization Options

Personalization options and settings in Windows Vista To access the personalization options and settings in Windows Vista, right-click on an empty area of your desktop, and choose "Personalize".

This will open the "Appearance and Personalization" page of the Control Panel, which exposes the seven sets of customizable properties for "Window Color and Appearance", "Desktop Background", "Screen Saver", "Sounds", "Mouse Pointers", "Theme", and "Display Settings".

Open Windows Vista's Display Settings To open Windows Vista's display settings, click on the last link displayed under "Personalize appearance and sound".

This will open the Display Settings window, covered in the rest of this tutorial, from managing monitors to changing screen resolution.

Managing multiple monitors in Windows Vista

Managing displays and monitors in Windows VistaThe top portion of the Display Settings in Windows Vista allows you to manage multiple monitors. If, like most people, you only use a single monitor, these options will either be grayed out (disabled) or irrelevant.

Clicking the Identify Monitors button will flash a big number on the monitor, based on which monitor Windows Vista thinks is which. Your primary monitor, for example, should see a big white number one (1) appear on screen for a few seconds.

This will let you match the numbers to the monitor whose settings you would like to configure. The This is my main monitor checkbox lets you override or update Windows Vista's assumption; if you have no alternate displays plugged into your computer or laptop, this checkbox will be disabled.

Extending the Desktop and Windows Taskbar

Monitor options and display settings in Windows VistaWhen you have another monitor plugged into your Vista PC, you can have the desktop and Windows taskbar take advantage of the full width of the two monitors: in other words, the Start button would show up at the bottom left of your leftmost monitor, and the clock (or "System Tray" / "Notification Area") would be visible at the end of the taskbar, in the bottom right corner of your rightmost monitor. To have your desktop and taskbar behave this way, check the "Extend the desktop onto this monitor" checkbox.

Configuring Color Depth settings in Windows Vista

The number of colors available to Windows Vista depends on the monitor's capabilities, the graphics card capabilities, and Vista's color depth display settings - which can be customized.

Color depth options The Colors dropdown menu lists the color depth you can choose from, based on the three limiting criteria mentioned above. In most cases, you will have the following two choices: "Medium (16 bit)", and "Highest (32 bit)" - with the highest color depth setting set by default.

Unless you are experiencing problems with video playback or graphic-intensive games, keep the highest color depth option.

Customize your screen resolution in Windows Vista

The "Screen Resolution" setting determines how much information ("how many pixels") Windows Vista will display on your monitor. Since your monitor does not grow or shrink, a high screen resolution lets you see a lot of things at once, but everything is displayed tiny; a low screen resolution .

Screen resolutions available in Windows Vista

Slide the Resolution slider left for a lower screen resolution, and right for higher screen resolution settings. Note that some screen resolution options appear distorted: you can troubleshoot these kinds of problems through the graphics card advanced settings (e.g. "Maintain aspect ratio") or through the monitor hardware settings (the Menu button on your physical monitor). Aside from advanced display settings troubleshooting, you should have 2-5 good screen resolution options available "out of the box".

As of this tutorial's writing, the two most common screen resolution settings are 1024 horizontal pixels by 768 vertical pixels, and 1280 horizontal pixels by 800 vertical pixels. Most older flat display panels were of a very square rectangular shape; but because of manufacturing costs, most modern display panels have a wide angle shape. In other words, the vertical resolution has not changed much while the horizontal resolution has.


Advanced Graphics Card Settings

Advanced monitor settings in Windows Vista Windows Vista's Display Settings include an Advanced Settings button: we will not cover these advanced settings, because the relevant ones depend largely on your graphics card (or "video card") itself.

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