If you find that system windows and text (like the START menu, THIS PC, CONTROL PANEL) are perfectly clear, but some programs like Word and Outlook have fuzzy text, AND you are using a tablet (like a Microsoft Surface or Surface Book) we have the fix!

This problem has dogged me for years.  Some Microsoft Surface Tablets and very high resolution Dell laptops.  The problem appears to be scaling on external monitors and I have tried everything including:text-on-external-monitor-fuzzy-windows-10-windows-8-surface-book

  • new cables
  • new monitors
  • reset settings
  • updating drivers
  • playing with scaling
  • updating firmware
  • running the ADJUST CLEAR TYPE app

but nothing has worked.  Why some tablets provide clear text on all screens and other identical units don’t has been driving me nuts.  Today however, I found the solution:  Set one of the external screens to be the MAIN screen, then log off and on. BINGO.

It appears that if the lowest resolution screen must be set to the primary… or MAIN.  This is a real problem when you have high end computers like the Microsoft Surface 3 or Surface Book which are about 3000 x 2000 and you have an external (or two) that are the more traditional 1920 x 1080.

Windows 7 did not handle different scaling on different monitors.  Windows 8 did a mediocre job of different scaling on different monitors.  Windows 10 does an decent job of different scaling on different monitors, but still does not set all of the fonts to be clear unless the smaller resolution external screen is set as MAIN.

 


40 Comments

Adam · September 4, 2017 at 12:01 am

Amazing, the solution just worked. Thanks!

Taile · August 31, 2017 at 3:16 am

I have exactly same issues here. i think it is just office app issue. the other app, like chrome dont have this issue

SteveC · August 27, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Simple solution to super frustrating and time consuming problem!!!

Can’t thank you enough for this one!!!

Deb · August 1, 2017 at 7:53 pm

I never leave comments but this simple change had such a dramatic effect I couldn’t leave without saying thanks. I had just upgraded to Office 2016 and it was that fuzzy I got a headache. Thanks again.

Brian · July 20, 2017 at 9:38 am

Thanks a lot. I have a Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 with the dell dock connected to a 1920×1080 Dell monitor. When I did your suggestion, Outlook etc all came up non fuzzy and now looks great. Also rescales when I move apps back and forward between the hi res laptop display and the lower res monitor.

Matt H · July 14, 2017 at 10:33 am

Thank you VERY much for posting this solution. So simple, and it worked immediately. THANK YOU! The poor scaling / fuzziness was driving me nuts.

Carson G · July 12, 2017 at 8:06 pm

The problem with this is you have to sign out then sign back in for it to work and now the programs are fuzzy on the laptop. And if you want to make them clear on the laptop you have to switch it back then sign out and sign back in again. It does work but not a solution. It seems crazy that MS can get it to work by making the monitor the primary display, but not use that same logic or whatever is happening to make it work in all instances. I’ve reached out to them and read some articles, it sounds like that may never happen…

SG · June 28, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Damn, genius.

Set external monitor as main, log off, log on.

W10 Creators Update. Office 2016.
Displays:
1) Laptop 1440p. (125% scale)
2) External Monitor 1440p. (100% scale)

Chris Rojas · May 18, 2017 at 4:53 pm

This is an Excellent Tip.
I’ve spent all the afternoon trying to figure it out.
I’ve read a lot of MS blogs and finally you did it!
Thank you!

littleroot · April 28, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Wow, just what I needed. So, I had moved my equipment and could not figure out why this was happening. I had already selected which display to make my primary but I had not logged off. Doh! Thanks

Grateful · April 27, 2017 at 2:26 pm

I don’t usually leave comments, but I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write this post. Thank you for helping me and others. I spend a lot of time working on my external monitor, and you just brought a solution to my frustrations. I feel like I got a new pair of glasses. THANK YOU! God bless you!!!

Matt · January 27, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Thanks a lot, easy fix !

Robert · January 13, 2017 at 12:59 am

Thanks

Ray M · January 5, 2017 at 5:04 pm

Excellent work, I swapped out my Surface Dock for someone in need and my eyes were getting crossed from the fuzzy text. I have 3 external monitors with the main monitor being a higher res than the other 2. Setting it primary and logging off/on did the trick. Thanks!

Charl van der merwe · January 2, 2017 at 11:09 pm

Thanks this worked perfectly 😉

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