How to Configure Display Scaling in Windows 10

Resolution settings in Windows 10 decide how detailed images and text appear, but scaling determines how it looks on the screen. No matter what resolution you have set for a monitor or TV, Windows 10 scales the display to fit everything on the screen, even if it has to add scrolling and up/down arrows, such as in the taskbar where it shows icons for active windows.

Sometimes, a monitor with a high resolution like 4K tends to make text, windows, and icons smaller. This situation makes it hard to see what is on the screen, especially from a distance. Windows 10 generally auto-adjusts the scaling on 4K displays to 150% to prevent small windows and text. Regardless, you can still manually increase the size of everything to see more comfortably, even if it is just for your default monitor.

This article shows you how to set up Windows 10 display scaling using one, two, or more screens simultaneously. You can easily keep everything similar in size—or expand your existing monitor for better visibility.

Why Adjust Windows 10 Scaling?

Using multiple screens is a great way to organize your work or various activities. Still, it can be annoying to drag windows between monitors when the resolution is different. Windows 10 scaling is beneficial in this situation, allowing you to match the text, images, and icons to the default display better.

Furthermore, it’s always nice to have a higher resolution for visual experiences such as videos and games, but sometimes, text and icons look too small to read comfortably. This scenario is where scaling plays a role. You can enlarge text, icons, and more to compensate for a higher resolution without the worry of visual loss. Scaling also helps people who have difficulty seeing smaller text and images by increasing their size for a more effortless experience.

Windows 10 Scaling Settings

Windows 10 comes with a preset scaling feature that you can manually change, assuming Windows didn’t automatically adjust the display to your liking. Unfortunately, the scaling options are limited to 100%, 125%, and 150% of the original size. A custom scale option is also available, but Windows applies that setting to all connected displays.

What Does Windows 10 Scaling Do?

Overall, scaling keeps your default screen viewable, and it also keeps screen sizes fairly consistent between different-sized monitors with different resolution options. Sliding a window or image to another screen can look different if the scaling proportions do not match. A bigger screen may require a lower scale setting to reflect sizes between the two monitors better. Scaling for multiple displays may not always be perfect, but it does help smoothen the experience.

How to Use Windows 10 Preset Scaling on One Screen

Scaling also allows your primary monitor to show enlarged text, images, and icons for better viewing experiences. Therefore, you can tweak your single-monitor setup to fit your needs. Windows 10 preset scaling includes three options. Here are the steps.

  1. Click on the “Start Menu,” then choose “Settings.”
  2. Select “System.”
  3. Choose “Display.”
  4. Scroll down to the “Scale and layout” section, then click the dropdown under “Change the size of text, apps…”
  5. Choose “100%,” “125%,” or “150%.” Those three preset scaling sizes are the only choices available for a single display using the “Scale and layout” menu option.

Using Windows 10 Preset Display Scaling for Two or More Monitors

When you use multiple monitors and extend your screen, the scaling may differ, such as a default 1080P screen and a 4K HDTV. Even though Windows auto-adjusts the scale to make text and windows larger on the HDTV, you may need to tweak it because sliding windows to a different screen may alter its size, which is not always beneficial.

Here’s how to adjust the scaling on multiple monitors using preset sizes to match up better.

Note: It is best to have monitors with the same or proportionally similar resolution. Otherwise, you may end up with blurred text and images.

  1. Go to “Start Menu > Settings > System > Display” and choose the monitor you want to scale. You can also click on “Identify” if you are unsure what monitor to select.
  2. Scroll down to the “Scale and layout” option and select a percentage from the dropdown menu.
  3. Next, shrink an app’s window on the Desktop of “Monitor 1” to become smaller than your desktop screen. Hold down on the window’s title bar, and slide it over to “Monitor 2” to see if you like the transition from “Monitor 1” to “Monitor 2.” Be sure to slide it over all the way (or super close) onto “Monitor 2,” or it won’t change the scaling. If not satisfied, repeat the “Scale and layout” option above until you get the view you need. Note that you may not get an exact fit due to only having three choices —100%, 125%, and 150%.

“Monitor 1” and “Monitor 2” in the above image show the “Identify” option that displays black boxes with a number for each screen. You also see that the resized window (using the steps above) on “Monitor 1” matches the settings of “Monitor 2.” If the scaling is off for “Monitor 2,” sliding the shrunken window over would change its size.

Custom Scaling in Windows 10

If you require a more precise display scale, you can use the advanced scaling option. This choice lets you manually set your scaling percentage precisely as you need. Note that any changes here affect ALL attached screens, and you must log out of Windows to activate it. In other words, you cannot customize each screen individually using this method.

Custom scaling is a simple process on Windows 10. The instructions below used Windows 10 Home, version 21H1, OS Build 19043.1348 with Windows Feature Experience Pack 120.2212.3920.0. The locations of settings in previous versions or builds may differ slightly.

  1. Click on the “Start Menu,” then “Settings.”
  2. Choose “Ease of Access.”
  3. In the “Make everything bigger” section, click on “Change the size of apps and text on other displays.” Even though it says “other displays,” the option you choose applies to all screens/monitors.
  4. Click on “Advanced scaling options” in the “Scale and layout” section.
  5. In the “Custom scaling” section, type a custom scaling size (based on percent), then click “Apply.”
  6. For the new scaling percentage to take effect, you must log out by selecting “Sign out now.” Save any work or progress beforehand.
  7. Confirm your new scaling size and readjust it using the previous steps if desired. Notice that text and other items in the image are slightly larger since the percentage became 140%. Of course, the resolution remains the same.

This process will adjust text and image sizes on both screens, which is only practical if you need a detailed view of something.

In closing, Windows 10 display scaling is handled by the OS reasonably well, as long as resolutions are proportionally the same—compared to older releases. However, it is relatively easy to adjust if you need to intervene manually, but it does not always produce the desired results.

As you can see above, you can change the scaling individually for each monitor or altogether using the three presets. However, if you need a custom scaling percentage, you can only change all screens at once. While this scenario limits your scaling options, it is better than nothing, just like the old days when the resolution settings were the only choice.

Lastly, Windows does not use screen size for scaling settings because it is irrelevant when dots per inch (DPI) are the essential factor. A screen with double the pixel density (proportionally) will have double the resolution.

Did you run into any issues while configuring your display scaling? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “How to Configure Display Scaling in Windows 10”

John says:
Nothing about fractional scaling is perfect. You can’t split up whole pixels. Apple at least recognized this and made sure its retina screens defaulted to a whole percentage of 200% scale. Much like Linux which also works best at 100% or 200% scale. Windows had to apply fractional scaling due to PC makers opting for FHD scale on many smaller screens such as laptops. Personally, I would prefer integer over non-integer scaling for best results.
GBart says:
This didn’t help – the display on the second monitor is slightly too big for the screen (edges are all cut off) but custom scaling starts at 100%…
Steve Larner says:
Some video card driver software, like Nvidia’s Control Panel and AMD’s Catalyst Control Center, offers screen adjustments. I’ve had to use them many times to get the second screen to fit in view. They usually have arrows on all four sides that you adjust until the entire screen is visible.

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