Adjusting Display Sizes, Making a Program Fill the Screen

Display Size Problems on PCs and some of our software:

  1. The program’s graphics appear small in the middle of your screen with a big black area around it.
  2. The program graphics appear stretched w-i-d-e or “fat” on the screen. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for help with this “stretching” problem.

These common display problems are due to various types and ages of equipment, differences in how your program was originally designed to display, and differences in the way different versions of Windows and your graphic card software will try to handle the program’s display needs.

In many newer computers, the video chips (graphic chips) and their drivers are “smart” …meaning, they can detect the program’s needs and adjust the display accordingly. Many older budget computers cannot do this, so you need to manually make the adjustment.

How to Make Program Appear Larger on Screen

Here are two solutions:

  1. If you have older computers that are dedicated to using software in a lab, sometimes it’s just easier to decrease the screen resolution of your Windows Display size to something closer to 800 x 600.
  2. But in newer versions of Windows (Windows 7, 8, and 10) you can “SCALE” the screen to make programs appear larger. (It’s like “zooming.”) 150% is usually the correct setting to make older programs appear larger on the screen. (Just keep in mind you’ll need to reset the display scale to 100% afterwards.)

⇒ The Windows 10 “scale and layout” option is found in the Windows 10 “Settings App,” and not in the Windows Control Panel (for some dumb reason). Type “settings” in your Cortana search field to find it, or click any blank area on your Desktop and open your Display Properties.

⇒ The “display scaling” option in Windows 7 and 8 is found in the Windows Control Panel.

Another option for older programs whose window size is fixed at 640×480, like our Life of David, Paul…etc series. Vista and Windows 7/8/10 have an option to “show an older program in a 640 x 480 window” –which comes in handy when trying to run some older but still good software like Life of Paul or Adventures with Daniel, which have a fixed display of 640 x 480. By selecting this option for those older programs, you can get them to fill more of the screen on a newer computer, and this setting only affects your screen when you’re running THAT particular program. To make this adjustment, right click the program’s startup icon and look in the Properties/Compatibility option for that nice option. This will make the older programs fill more of the screen, but it still may not look as crisp.

If your software graphics appear stretched across the screen, or “fat”…
You need to change your “Aspect Ratio” graphic setting on your graphic card to correct the “fat” appearance of some software on a wide aspect monitor (such as a laptop). Software designed for a 4:3 proportioned display on the screen will sometimes S-T–R–E—T—C—-H too wide across a wide aspect screen —making the game graphics look “fat.” Some graphic cards are smart about this and automatically detect and compensate for this stretching. Many budget computers with budget video chips don’t.

STRETCHING is a common problem on some laptops that have wide aspect screens that are proportioned more for DVDs and wordprocessing than playing games. This can also happen on today’s larger “wide aspect” monitors. MOST video or graphic chip drivers can detect and compensate — restraining the software to it’s designed proportions.

The solution is to adjust your Graphic Display setting’s “Aspect Ratio,” …if your graphic chip’s control panel gives you that option. Most do.

The quickest way to adjust graphic properties is to RIGHT click a blank area of your desktop and select from your graphic options.

In XP and earlier versions of Windows, you may need to open your “Display Properties” in your Windows Control Panel to make such adjustments. (And on some older computers with cheaper video chips, they may not have these aspect options at all).

This is the setting I have set to keep my 3d games from stretching “fat”. I could change the ‘Screen Resolution’ lower, if this were my church lab’s computer, but because this is my home computer, I’m sticking with my laptop’s native resolution.

Changing the aspect ratio does NOT affect the appearance of any other software I have, such as IE or Word.

Depending on your operating system, and depending on the BRAND and QUALITY and AGE of your graphic card/chip/driver, your options MAY VARY. But most graphic chips/drivers are headed in the right direction: getting smarter and giving us more choices.

Older computers, older operating systems, and those with old drivers and ‘inexpensive’ graphic components may have FEWER options.

Reminder: Some graphic drivers/chip may not give you the option to change the aspect ratio and some are smart enough to automatically do it!

Author: Neil

I'm Neil MacQueen, a Presbyterian minister (PCUSA). For 24 years I owned and operated Sunday Software at A few years ago I shut down the site and donated all my software to I am also the founder and webmaster of, a non-profit Sunday School resource ministry run by a group of volunteers.

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