View Full Version : Looking for software that will allow me to change my screen's aspect ratio

10-09-2006, 12:40 PM
My work laptop is a Dell D620; it has a wide screen display. I don't use to many spreadsheets and rarely watch DVDs on it, so the wide screen isn't much use to me. Does anyone know of an application that will allow me to switch the display to 4X3 aspect ratio and back to 16X9 when needed?



10-09-2006, 12:52 PM
You do realize all that changing the aspect ratio will achieve is making your screen effectively smaller right? I cant imagine how this could be advantageous other than to watch video originally intended for 4:3 aspect ratio, and whatever media player you use should be able to accomplish this on its own as needed anyway.

If you still wish to do this, the most likely way is to use the display properties dialog (control panel or right click on desktop|properties) to change your screen resolution. This is totally dependant on the abilities of your display adapter/drivers.

Why not just use the extra space at the side of your desktop as the valuable organizational realestate it is? You know you can size application windows to whatever aspect ratio you want as long as they are not maximised? I know a lot of people seem to miss this very basic and useful method of useing their desktop space. Size the windows to whatever size you need and use the uncovered desktop space to move to other applications, monitor processes, transfer files etc.

10-09-2006, 03:13 PM

We all assume you mean the screen's digital aspect ratio in pixels x pixels.

If you want software that will change your screen's physical aspect ratio in inches x inches, I don't think that software's out just yet.

10-10-2006, 09:51 AM
You can do this with windows. Not "Windows", mind you, but "windows". Drop your laptop out one, so that it lands either on its front edge or a side edge. Many people do this when each new version of Windows comes out.

10-10-2006, 06:53 PM
Part of the reason the replies are so ambiguous is that your question's a little oddly formed.

Your laptop has an LCD screen, and the pixels on it are physically a certain size. This is why on LCD monitors, only one of the possible "resolutions" looks good; the others are slightly jaggy or blocky because the number of "display" pixels to the number of "physical" pixels isn't one-to-one. A single-pixel-wide line, for example, will display at different widths depending on exactly where it is on the screen on such a mismatched display.

"Aspect ratio" has several common uses. It can describe the ratio of the height to width of a single pixel. Nowadays that's pretty much always 1:1, but some early computers had pixels that were wider than they were tall.

It can also describe the ratio of the number of pixels in the horizontal vs. vertical dimension of your screen, which is the use you're meaning, I think. That number is physically fixed, but no one's making you use all of the pixels.

For example, if your screen is 1650 x 1080 (not an uncommon widescreen resolution), you can choose to set the resolution to 1280 x 1024 (a common "standard" resolution). What exactly happens when you do this depends on your system. On most of them, it will "stretch" the horizontal dimension to fill your whole monitor, which looks goofy, but you sometimes have to put up with it (in the case of older pre-widescreen games, for example). On others, it will simply "black out" bars on either side of the screen, which looks better. You might be able to find a setting for this in your video settings, but it's not standard.

In either event, you're basically just throwing away pixels. There's no advantage to this that I can see, unless you're trying to play one of the aforementioned full-screen games that doesn't support widescreen. In that event, you might be able to download something that would force the "black bars" version. I've seen such things for the Mac (meant for developers testing for smaller screens), but I don't know if they exist for Windows or not.