There are two common problems displaying some older software on newer monitors with higher screen resolutions.
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.
This image shows the two problems…
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.
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.
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). See my example below.
Software designed for a 4:3 proportioned screen will sometimes S-T–R–E—T—C—-H too wide across a wide aspect screen —and this makes 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. For example… look at “Robin” from our Joseph CD on my 5:3 wide aspect laptop, and then after I opened up my graphic display panel and selected the “panel fit” option to “center desktop”:
Seen here: “Robin” the young archaeologist in Sunday Software’s “Joseph’s Story CD”
(Click here to read more about Joseph’s Story CD seen in this graphic.)
STRETCHING is a common problem on some laptops that have wide screens
designed more for playing DVD movies and wordprocessing.
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.
In the example below below you can see the “resolution” option for my Intel graphics chip on my laptop. For most of our software, set your resolution as close to 800×600 or a notch above that.
Also in the example screenshot below, you can see the Aspect Ratio option, which I recommend setting to “center desktop” (if you have that or a similar option) to keep software from stretching too wide across a wide aspect screen.
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).
Your graphic control panel may look different than mine depending on the chip brand and version. But you can get the general idea by looking at my example here….
CHANGING YOUR SCREEN’S ASPECT RATIO to “FIXED” for some software
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.
Go to our Support Page.