SOLVED: How to Fix Fuzzy Text on Second Screens Connected to Surface 3 Tablet or Any High Resolution Computer

If you have connected an external monitor to a Microsoft Surface 2 or 3 (or any other high resolution computer) running Windows 8, you will see that the second screen’s text is fuzzy.

There are several ways to improve the unclear fonts (like increasing the font size, or running through the CLEAR TEXT wizard) but none of those will fix the problem.  The root of the issue is that the font scaling on the built in LCD is likely set to 150% and the font scaling on your external LCD’s is likely set to 100%.  Windows 8 does a bad job of simultaneously handing different font scales.

There are three solid ways to eliminate fuzzy fonts/images due to mismatched scaling and I will list them in order of practicality:

1: Turn off the new feature in Windows 8 that lets it try different scales.

You can set all screens to use the same scaling via:how-to-fix-fuzzy-text-on-windows-8-surface-3-tablet-second-monitor

  1. Get into the Control Panel
  2. Click DISPLAY
  3. Click “Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays”
  4. Set the CHANGE THE SIZE OF ALL ITEMS to 125%
  5. Log off / on as prompted

As you now see your tablet (or other high resolution computer screen) now has quite small text and the external screens have fairly large text.  This is not the prettiest solution, but it does 100% solve the fuzzy image issue on high Pixel Per Inch (PPI) computers.

 

2: Set Each Program to “Compatibility Mode” of Windows 7

This is not tremendously practical because:

  1. You might have to set a lot of programs to Compatibility Mode, and that is just a pain
  2. Several program shortcuts like Word 2013 do not offer a Compatibility Mode tab

 

3: Buy Matching External Screen

The other solution is the change your external screens to ones that match the integrated screen.  But that is not practical in 2015 as 2160 x 1440 external screens do not exist.

 

For more details, you may find THIS and THIS article useful.

Comments

  1. Avatar
    Mark Berry January 22, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks for this. This is a strange one. I had the same issue with my new ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd gen, running Windows 10, driving an external Dell 1600×1200 monitor through a Lenovo dock and a Display Port connection. The fonts in Outlook 2016 lists looked odd–not so much fuzzy as a bit distorted. I forced Win10 to use 100% on all monitors and Outlook looked great again, but the ThinkPad’s 2160×1440 resolution made anything on that screen microscopic. So I changed back to individual scaling, thinking I’d try the Win7 mode trick for Outlook. But wait: everything looks right now! Even after upping the ThinkPad back to “150% (Recommended)”, Outlook is fine.

    So another suggestion is try going to a fixed 100% on all screens, then go back to individual resolutions. Maybe just having the external monitors connected when it is re-calculating fonts and resolutions is enough…

  2. Avatar
    Gunnr November 10, 2017 at 7:33 am

    This was driving me crazy! I have a beautiful new monitor I use as projector to my windows 7 dell xps laptop. It was working fine, then suddenly, reading anything in a browser became a chuck full of eye strain!

    When I move the browser to the laptop screen it is clear. WHAT?! Okay, native resolutions set to each screen, AV mode, reinstalled all of my windows 7 fonts, set the size of text as listed about to Large. Still, none of this worked.

    Once I isolated that the issue was only on the projected screen I started playing with the settings. All I did to fix it was turn down the sharpness. serious. Nice smooth text again. woohoo!

    Now i am going to run the windows cleartext setting again to see if i can get it even better.

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