How to Adjust the DPI Scaling in Windows Vista

By Woody Leonhard

Did you know that you can adjust the DPI (dots per inch) scaling in Windows Vista to adjust the size of fonts and icons on your screen? DPI scaling is kind of like a zoom feature. Adjusting the DPI scaling is very similar to adjusting then size of screen fonts within an application like Microsoft Word.

If you have a high-resolution monitor, the optimum screen resolution can often make the print very small. You can reduce the resolution to enlarge the text, but then it just looks choppy and messy. If you modify the DPI scaling instead, you can maintain the crispness of the screen resolution while making things larger or smaller as you see fit.

If you’re using a flat-panel display for Windows Vista, the screen resolution is pretty much a given. You can change it, but the screen never looks as good as it does when it’s running at “native” resolution.


1Bring up a couple of applications that you use every day and open some real work.

Here is an example of a Word document and an Excel spreadsheet using Vista’s standard DPI scaling.


2Right-click any blank part of the desktop and choose Personalize.

The Vista Personalization dialog box appears.


3On the left, click the link that says Adjust Font Size (DPI).

You have to click Continue through a User Account Control message. Vista shows you the DPI Scaling dialog box.

4Choose the option that says Larger Scale (120 DPI). Then click OK.

Don’t bother with the Custom DPI button. The settings here are so convoluted they could just drive you crazy.


5Vista tells you it has to restart. Click OK. When Vista comes back up, open the same programs that you opened in Step 1 and take a look.

Play with your applications a bit. See the difference in the size of the text in the titles, as well as the zooming inside the application itself.

6If you don’t like the larger fonts — the “zoomed” Vista visual elements — repeat Steps 2 through 4, but in Step 4, go back to 96 DPI scaling.

You’ll have to restart again.