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Why Is My Computer’s Screen Blurry and Difficult to Read?

Why Is My Computer’s Screen Blurry and Difficult to Read?

Jul 11, 2012

“I find the items on my computer difficult to see because the images and text are blurry. It drives me crazy and gives me a headache. What can I do to make my computer’s screen clear?”

If the words and images on your computer’s monitor are blurry, it probably indicates a problem with your computer’s display settings or with the way the monitor is connected to the computer. In most cases, these problems are quite easy to resolve. If you only have a problem with blurry text and everything else on your screen appears as it should, skip straight to the ClearType heading below. Otherwise, read on for the solution.

Native Resolution

Native Resolution Blurry TextA flat-panel LCD monitor is unable to change the number of pixels on the screen as a CRT monitor can. The resolution at which an LCD monitor is designed to work is called its native resolution. The monitor can only display images and text in full clarity when it operates at its native resolution or at a lower resolution that divides evenly into the native resolution. For example, a widescreen 15-inch display might have a native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. At lower resolutions, the monitor performs automatic calculations to display the selected resolution using all of the screen’s pixels. This frequently results in blurry or jagged text and images because the selected resolution doesn’t divide evenly into the monitor’s native resolution. See the image on the right via Wikipedia for a close-up example of what this does to text. To resolve this, change the display resolution to match the native resolution of your monitor. If you originally lowered the display resolution because you found the text too small to read easily, you can increase the text size using the accessibility options in Windows to make text easier to read.

If you have a CRT monitor, you may want to try the opposite and lower the display resolution. Some high-quality 17-inch and 19-inch CRT displays are capable of extremely high resolutions of 1600 x 1200 pixels and above. Unfortunately, unless the monitor has a very small dot pitch, text at high resolutions may become blurry and difficult to read.

DVI-to-VGA Converter

VGA and DVI ConnectorsIf you have an older computer, it most likely uses a 15-pin VGA video connector like the blue one shown on the right. However, now that flat-panel LCD monitors have become more affordable, you might have upgraded your old CRT monitor with an LCD monitor. Many LCD monitors have VGA ports for compatibility with older computers, and those that don’t often come with DVI-to-VGA converters. The problem with this is that VGA connectors are analog, while DVI connectors like the white one on the right are digital. LCD displays are also digital, which means that your LCD monitor performs an analog-to-digital conversion before displaying the image if it connects to the computer via a VGA port. This can result in some blurriness. If your computer has a DVI port, connect the monitor to it rather than the VGA port. If it doesn’t, purchase an inexpensive video card with a DVI output port. Not only will the images and text on your monitor no longer appear blurry, but you’ll probably experience better performance with video playback and games, as well.

VGA Cable

A second problem inherent in VGA connections is the cable itself. With an analog connection, using a poor-quality cable can cause signal degradation between the computer and monitor — particularly if the cable is a long one. You may experience less signal loss if you swap out your current cable for a high-quality shielded VGA cable. However, LCD monitors have dropped in price so much in recent years that you may be better served by a monitor upgrade. Note that if your monitor connects to the computer via DVI, the cable quality is irrelevant; when using a digital connection, the monitor either receives the signal or it doesn’t.

ClearType

ClearType is a feature of Windows that smooths the edges of text to make it more readable. This feature is generally excellent with LCD monitors, which tend to render text with jagged edges. However, CRT monitors tend to render text with a slightly softer appearance. In this case, you may find the ClearType feature unnecessary. Disable ClearType with these steps.

Windows 7 ClearTypeWindows 7

  1. Open the Start Menu and type ClearType in the search field.
  2. Click Adjust ClearType Text on the results list.
  3. Clear the check from the Turn on ClearType box.
  4. Click Next and follow the instructions in the following screens. Each screen will require you to click the box containing the text that you prefer. Windows adjusts the text settings based on the box you selected.
  5. Click Finish at the final screen.

Windows Vista ClearTypeWindows Vista

  1. Right-click the desktop and select Personalize.
  2. Click the Window Color and Appearance link.
  3. Click the Effects button.
  4. Clear the check from the Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts or select Standard on the drop-down menu.
  5. Click OK.

Windows XP Display PropertiesWindows XP

  1. Right-click the desktop and select Properties.
  2. Click the Appearance tab.
  3. Click the Effects button.
  4. Clear the check from the Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts or select Standard on the drop-down menu.
  5. Click OK.