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Configure Your Monitor’s Resolution to Meet Your Digital Video Needs

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 2/4/2010

Configure the proper resolution for your digital video and editing work, and create the perfect monitor output for your needs.

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    Monitor Resolution

    Monitor resolution is how many pixels are used to show data on a monitor’s screen. A pixel is a small dot of color data (which can be only one color at a time), and images you view on your computer screen are formed using thousands and thousands of them. Since pixels are units of color data, the more pixels you use, the less noticeable the pixels are and the better the image.

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    Choosing Screen Resolution

    When choosing a screen resolution (to decide just how many pixels you want on your monitor), you have several choices. The choices will differ from monitor to monitor and video card to video card. To see what options you have, follow these steps:

    Note: These steps were written for Windows XP; the steps for Vista are similar.

    1. Right-click on an empty area of the Desktop and choose Properties.
    2. In the Display Properties dialog box, select the Settings tab.
    3. Select Advanced.
    4. From the resulting dialog box, select Apply the New Display Settings Without Restarting. Click OK.
    5. Back at the Display Properties dialog box, under Screen Resolution, move the slider all the way to the left and click Apply. Move the slider to the right one notch and click Apply again. Continue in this manner until you’ve viewed all available resolutions. You may have to choose Yes or No from a dialog box to accept or reject the resolution, depending on your operating system and monitor.
    6. Leave the Display Properties dialog box open and don’t click OK yet; after reading the next paragraph or two you may want to choose a different one.

    More Info: A screen resolution of 800 by 600 pixels would offer almost 500,000 pixels, while a screen resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels would offer almost 800,000. You can do the math for the other resolution options.

    You may have noticed that as you went up in resolution, the dialog box became much clearer, but much smaller. You probably also noticed that the icons on your desktop became smaller too. In fact, while more pixels offer a clearer image, as you increase the number of pixels shown on a computer monitor, you also decrease the size of all of the information shown. The size of the data decreases because the monitor displays more pixels in the same screen space.

    So, when choosing a screen resolution you’ll need to balance several things: the condition of your eyes, the distance you sit from the monitor, the size of the data you need to see, and the physical size of the monitor. Your best bet now is to take another look at the resolution choices you have and choose one you think will work for you. Then, visit a Web page, read a document, and edit a photo. If you don’t like the setting you chose, you can always go back and change it to something else.

    You may also enjoy: Changing DPI Settings, Default Icons, and Color Schemes