Why am I unable to increase the resolution in Windows?

Updated: 08/02/2020 by Computer Hope
Increasing resolution in Windows

Follow these steps if you cannot increase your display resolution in Windows.

Detecting and fixing video driver problems

If you can't increase your screen resolution in Windows, your system may have corrupt or missing video drivers. Follow the steps below to help resolve this issue.

  1. If you cannot get into normal Windows or you cannot see anything in Windows, boot the computer into Safe Mode.
  2. Open the Device Manager and verify that no conflicts or issues are displayed on your video card or any other devices. Also, verify that there is no Other Devices category. If issues exist, resolve these issues before continuing.
  1. If Device Manager shows conflicts on your video card or your video card is a Standard display adapter, remove all video cards under the Display adapter category. To remove them, highlight each device and press the delete key until the Display adapter category is gone.
  2. After following the above steps, reboot your computer.
  3. Windows should re-detect and install the video card and any other devices you may have removed or fixed in step two. If Windows asks for files you do not have, you may need to obtain the drivers as mentioned in the next step.
  4. If the steps above do not resolve your issue, obtain the latest video drivers from the computer, video card, or chipset manufacturer. Find a link to video card and chipset manufacturers on our video card drivers page.

Change video settings through video card software

Many video cards may have software to help manage and control your video card settings. If you're unable to adjust the resolution in Windows, try adjusting the resolution through the video card software. Often these programs are running in the background and if available are shown in the Windows Notification Area.

Not enough video memory


If your computer has previously been able to support your desired screen resolution, then video memory is not causing the issue.

If you're attempting to increase the resolution beyond 640 x 480 - 256 colors, first verify your computer has enough video memory. If your computer was manufactured in the last three years, you have enough video memory to support a higher resolution.

If you cannot determine how much video memory your computer has, contact your video card manufacturer or computer manufacturer for additional information about your hardware.