Computer  Technology > Vision Comfort > Eyecare > *Monitor Settings* > Web Browser Settings .

Adjust Computer Monitor Display Settings

Bruce R. Thomas, Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty, American River College, 25aug2004.

Customizing your monitor display settings may improve visibility and vision comfort for everything that you do on the computer. If visibility is still a problem after optimizing these settings, then purchase of a better quality monitor and video card may be helpful to provide a better quality image for more comfortable viewing.

  1. CRT monitor settings.
  2. Text size displayed in magnifier utility software.
  3. Flat screen vs. CRT monitors.
  4. Video Cards.

1. CRT monitor settings.

(top, down) Adjustment of CRT monitor settings can greatly impact the quality of the image you see on your monitor. Display resolution controls the size of objects on the monitor, but the range of adjustability is typically limited. Refresh rates control the flickering of the image on the monitor. Brightness, contrast and a variety of other adjustments can also affect image quality on the monitor. 

  1. PC computers (Windows XP, Win2000, Win98).
    1. RightClick on the desktop, LeftClick on Properties, LeftClick on the Settings tab, Drag and drop to adjust the Screen resolution (Screen area) slider. Less resolution makes items Larger on the screen. LeftClick on the Apply button (the screen will briefly go dark, then return at the new resolution setting), LeftClick on OK.
    2. RightClick on the desktop, LeftClick on Properties, LeftClick on the Settings tab, Click on the Advanced button, click on the Monitor tab. In Monitor settings dropdown the Screen refresh rate window and select a higher refresh rate, if available, to reduce flickering on the monitor.
  2. Macintosh computers. (Mac OS X) Apple menu - System preferences - Displays - Set resolutions, colors and refresh rates.  (Mac OS 9.2) Apple menu - Control Panels - Monitors.
  3. On both PC and Mac computers the brightness, contrast and a variety of other settings are typically adjustable via buttons on the the front of CRT-style monitors. Instructions for these setting adjustments are highly variable depending on the brand and model of monitor, so consult the owner's manual or manufacturer's website for instructions.

2. Text size increased using magnifier utility software.

(top, down) Magnifier utility software controls image size on both CRT and flat screen monitors and can provide much greater magnification than the screen resolution adjustments discussed above. Thus, people with severe partial vision disabilites may benefit from magnifier utility software.
  1. PC computers (Windows XP, Win2000, Win98). Start button - Programs - Accessories - Accessibility - Magnifier. This utility supplied as part of Windows can both magnify items and invert their colors. The Magnifier sets up a high magnification window at the top of the display. As the pointer moves around the rest of the display area a highly magnified view of the region around the pointer is displayed in the high magnification window.
  2. Screen Magnifiers Homepage ( ) provides information about additional software available to magnify images on the computer screen for PC, Mac and Unix computers.

3. Flat screen vs. CRT monitors.

(top, down) Flat screen (LCD) monitors generally make clearer, sharper images than cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors. Flat screen monitors also do not suffer from the flickering that plagues many CRT monitors. Thus, flat screen monitors tend to produce somewhat less eyestrain than CRT monitors. Of course, there are ranges of qualities in both types of monitors. Whenever you purchase a computer it may be worth investing some time to find a monitor that makes a good, sharp image. Looking at a monitor for a few minutes in the store may not tell you how much eyestrain there will be after hours of working with a particular monitor. Websites that critically evaluate computer hardware quality may help you pick out a monitor to purchase (, Tom's Hardware Guide). The article "How to choose a monitor" also discusses the specifications that one should look for when purchasing a monitor.

4. Video Cards.

(top, down) The video card is the interface that connects the monitor to the computer motherboard. Video cards control image quality and the range of settings available for screen resolution and refresh rate on CRT monitors. Thus, if you upgrade your monitor in hopes of gaining better image quality it may be helpful to upgrade the video card at the same time.

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Copyright 2004, Bruce R. Thomas, all rights reserved.