How do I adjust my brightness or contrast on my laptop?

Note: If your laptop screen is black, see our page on how to troubleshoot a black laptop screen.

Every laptop is different, so adjusting the brightness or contrast of your screen may vary from the steps provided on this page. Consequently, this document is meant as a general guideline to help you understand the process and with a little intuition, adapt the steps to work on your machine. It should be noted that the level of brightness may be limited by your Power Options, which we discuss further down in this document.

Note: Very few laptop screens have a variable contrast setting. Contrast adjustment keys look like a circle with a half moon in it. They should work the same way as the brightness keys. Follow the steps and troubleshooting ideas for Brightness settings on this page to adjust Contrast settings and to resolve contrast issues.

Adjusting brightness with keys

Most laptops adjust their brightness settings using the function key in conjunction with another key. For example, pressing and holding the function key (abbreviated as "Fn") and pressing the up or down arrow keys may increase or decrease the screen brightness. The key used with Fn to adjust brightness varies between laptops, but the symbol (usually looks like a gear with an arrow next to it) is usually similar to those shown in the image below.

Laptop computer brightness adjust keys

Adjust brightness through Display settings

You can also adjust brightness through the Display settings in the Control Panel with the following steps.

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Click or tap the Display option.
  3. Look for a link or option titled Adjust brightness.
  4. This option allows you to adjust the laptop brightness based on the power plan or setting being used, whether the laptop is running on AC power or battery power. Modify the applicable power plan and set the brightness to the desired level. These brightness settings will still be in effect after the computer is restarted.

Adjust contrast through Ease of Access settings

In Windows 7 and later versions of Windows, you can adjust contrast through the Ease of Access settings with the following steps.

  1. In the Windows Search Box or on the Windows Start Screen, type "contrast" and click the High contrast settings option.
  2. In the Choose a theme drop-down field, select a contrast theme. After selecting a theme, you can preview how it looks below the drop-down field.
  3. Click the Apply button to save the contrast theme change.

Laptop won't maintain newly adjusted settings

After adjusting your laptop's brightness, it should retain the new settings automatically. If the brightness settings are not retained after a computer restart, they are probably being overridden by settings within the Power Options menu (as we mentioned in the introduction). If this is the case, you'll need to create a custom power plan, which can be done by accessing the Power Options utility in the Control Panel.

Driver issues

If the key combination method is not working and you've made the appropriate adjustments in Power Options, it is likely your computer has a video driver problem. This typically happens after updating the video drivers. Monitor drivers can also cause this problem. To resolve any potential monitor related issues, reinstall the monitor by following the steps below.

  1. Open the Windows Device Manager
  2. Click the + or arrow next to Monitors to expand the monitors list.
  3. Highlight any detected monitors under Monitors and press delete to remove them from the computer.
  4. Once the monitors has been removed from Device Manager, under Action, click Scan for Hardware changes to let Windows re-detect the monitor and install the applicable drivers.

Finally, we also recommend downloading the latest video drivers directly from the video card manufacturer. If this problem was caused because you updated the drivers, install an earlier version of the video drivers to see if that resolves the issue.

Laptop brightness is still not enough or screen is black

If after following the above steps your brightness is still not enough, plug your laptop into the wall to make sure it is not an AC power setting that is decreasing the brightness. If the laptop is plugged in but still is not bright enough, try the suggestions on the page linked below.

Additional information