Advertisement

How to fix apps that look small on high DPI and high resolution displays

Today, many PCs ship with very high resolution displays even if the PC form factor is smaller for example, an Ultrabook or a tablet. Or you may have a desktop monitor with 4K resolution. At such resolutions, Windows automatically turns on DPI scaling so everything on your screen becomes larger. However, there are some third party apps, which don't render properly on high DPI screens. They look too small for the screen resolution. Let us see how to fix them if Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 does not scale them properly.

DPI1
Typically, such apps were written before high DPI displays appeared and were not properly updated to support high DPI. They appear too small on the screen with impossible to read fonts and they don't scale properly. Often buttons are misplaced or too tiny to click for old apps which haven't been updated for high DPI displays. Windows normally scales all apps automatically using XP style scaling as well as DPI virtualization for those apps that don't tell Windows that they are DPI aware. However there are some apps which lie to Windows that they are high DPI aware even if they are not, which is why Windows does not scale them. Such apps render improperly on full HD or 4K resolutions.

To fix them, a trick can be done which forces Windows to scale the app using DPI virtualization. However according to my testing, it can only safely be done on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. The procedure is long and a bit complex for novice users but there is no quick GUI in Windows to force DPI virtualization on for a specific app. Doing the Registry tweak involved in this tweak on Windows 7 or Windows 8.0 caused some strange behaviors and side-effects like system tray icons disappearing so do it at your own risk if you run these OSes. If you are running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, continue with these instructions.

Advertisement

  1. Create a blank text file from the New menu by right clicking anywhere e.g. on the Desktop or in a folder. The text file should have the name of the program EXE, which renders too small, followed by the text ".manifest". For example, if the name of the program you use which looks small is SearchTool.exe, the text file you create should be named "SearchTool.exe.manifest". If you don't know the EXE name, right click the Taskbar and open Task Manager while that app is running. Select the app and right click it and click Go to Details. On the Details tab, the EXE name will be shown. Then you can create the text file with the appropriate name. e.g. Processname.exe.manifest.DPI2
  2. Download and install the free Resource Hacker program from here: http://www.angusj.com/resourcehacker/. It is a resource editing tool. The reason we need it is because the app manifest is sometimes stored inside an EXE and Windows prefers this internal app manifest by default. We don't want to ignore the internal app manifest completely if it exists, that is, if the app's developer has added it because besides DPI scaling, it contains other important information about the app's side-by-side configuration and UAC elevation.
  3. Start Resource Hacker and open the app's EXE in it which looks unusably small on your high resolution display.
  4. The program (EXE's) manifest resource is usually stored as Resource type 24. Check if this Resource 24 exists. If no such resource #24 exists inside the EXE you opened, then close Resource Hacker and open the file you created in step 1 in Notepad and copy-paste the following text inside it and then save and close the text file:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?> 
    <assembly xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1" manifestVersion="1.0"> 
      <application xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v3"> 
        <windowsSettings> 
          <dpiAware xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/SMI/2005/WindowsSettings">False</dpiAware> 
        </windowsSettings> 
      </application> 
    </assembly>
    

    Now skip directly to step 9 for the case where there was no resource 24 inside the EXE you opened and you did the above step.

  5. If instead, a resource 24 exists in the EXE you opened in Resource Hacker, then expand the node called 24 -> 1 and click on the 1033 item (it is 1033 for English language editions). Right click in the right pane and click Select all. Then right click on the selected text again and click Copy and close Resource Hacker. Don't make any changes to the EXE's internal manifest because the EXE may be digitally signed or compressed. We don't want to modify the original EXE.
  6. Open Notepad, open the file you created in step 1 in Notepad and paste what you copied from Resource Hacker into Notepad and save this file from the File menu.
  7. In this file, see if there is a section that has a dpiaware flag set to True (this means the app is claiming to be DPI aware if it looks small on a high DPI display):
    <application xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v3"> 
        <windowsSettings> 
          <dpiAware xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/SMI/2005/WindowsSettings">True</dpiAware> 
        </windowsSettings> 
      </application>

    If it exists, change it from True to False. If no such section related to DPI awareness exists in the app's manifest information, add the above block of text just after the following line in the manifest file:

    <assembly xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:asm.v1" manifestVersion="1.0">
  8. Change dpaware flag from True to False and save the changes to the file and close it.
  9. Copy the file to the EXE's folder. For example, if the program is installed in C:\Program Files\Contoso\SearchTool.exe, copy the manifest to C:\Program Files\Contoso directory.
  10. Now we need to tweak Windows to tell it to prefer external manifest files over internal ones embedded inside the EXE. This Registry tweak must be done *only* for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.0 RTM, doing the following Registry tweak can cause unexpected side effects like some system functionality breaking or apps crashing.
  11. Open Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) in Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. Navigate to the following registry subkey:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > SideBySideDPI3
  12. Right-click, select NEW > DWORD (32 bit) Value. Give it a name: PreferExternalManifest, and then press ENTER.
  13. Right-click PreferExternalManifest, and then click Modify. Enter Value Data 1. Click OK. Exit Registry Editor.
  14. Now restart Windows and run the app for which you added this manifest.DPI4

The app should be scaled by Windows DPI virtualization feature and will no longer look too small with unusable controls. The text may look blurry but that's because the app developer didn't update the app for high DPI. Slightly blurry text is tolerable than unreadably small sized user interface with tiny controls.

If the app is still being actively developed, you should contact its developer to so he will actually make it scale properly at high DPI and not just mark the EXE as high DPI aware. If the app is no longer being maintained, then you are out of luck. This is as good as the app will look (with slightly blurry text). However, the app should be usable now.

Support us

Winaero greatly relies on your support. You can help the site keep bringing you interesting and useful content and software by using these options:

If you like this article, please share it using the buttons below. It won't take a lot from you, but it will help us grow. Thanks for your support!

Advertisment

Author: Gaurav Kale

Gaurav is a software enthusiast from India and Classic Shell tester & UX consultant. He started with Windows 95 and is good at software usability testing. He firmly believes that user experience is just as important as software code quality and architecture for software to be successful.

92 thoughts on “How to fix apps that look small on high DPI and high resolution displays”

  1. Awesome post! Thanks. I can finally run my Surface Pro 4 in native resolution.

    I got this working for several programs. One that I COULDN’T get working was VLC. Any thoughts on that one?

    Thanks again.

    1. Works for me. Make sure for 64-bit Windows, you get the 64-bit version which is not offered by default by their website. It still downloads 32-bit by default.

    2. VLC 64 bit – C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe.manifest
      VLC 32 bit – C:\Program Files (x86)\VideoLAN\vlc.exe.manifest
      Open file from Notepad and after text:

      Add:

      false

      Save.

    1. Hi! Can you help me out with 3dsmax? Cause I followed the tutorial but nothing seems to be changing! I created a note text with the extension exe.manifest and copied it in the C folder of 3dsmax but the problem is not solved!
      I would appreciate it so much!
      I have a SP4 :)

      1. WORKING NOW!
        I found that it worked for 3Dsmax when i did it but not for ACad… then I right clicked on the shortcut that launches Acad and then the Compatibility tab… make sure the “Disable display scaling on high DPI settings” is UNCHECKED. This worked perfect for me. You still have a slightly fuzzy text, but you can stay in the native higher resolution.

        Hope that works

  2. AWESOME tutorial! Very detailed instructions making this easy to solve. I just used this on 3ds Max (2012) and it works; now to update Photoshop, Illustrator and the other CS6 suite :D

    1. Oh, one thing to note: Resource Hacker seems to be a bit different than you described. There is a navigation bar on the left once you open the desired .exe file, and one of the folders is simply called “Manifest” with one file inside: “1 : 1033” rather than looking for what you had posted.

    2. Hey I followed the tutorial but nothing seems to be changing! I created a note text with the extension exe.manifest and copied it in the C folder of 3dsmax but the problem is not solved! Can you do a walkthrough of what you did in order to make 3dsmax work?
      Thanks

  3. thanks for your very helpful guide… I have a question.. could I use this way but change something to have even bigger interface ? I need some bigger if possible ^_^

  4. Here’s my fix, nothing to do on registry on my part…
    1. Just right click on the application icon.
    2. Click compatibility tab.
    3. Uncheck “Diable display scaling on High DPI Settings

    VIOLA!

    1. That does the opposite of what this tutorial does. It will fix apps that scale but don’t look sharp. It won’t fix apps that don’t scale at all.

  5. After upgrading to a 4K screen my Phoenix RC program had minuscule text. I tried every trick I could think of and searched unsuccessfully for hours for a solution. This fix worked perfectly. Thank you!

  6. I found this: http://www.danantonielli.com/adobe-app-scaling-on-high-dpi-displays-fix/ and was worknig fine for all my apps (Photoshop CC, Sketchup 2015, Vray, Google Earth Pro, Artlantis 5, etc), but i’m having issues since the last windows 10 update, my autocad 2015 freezes, when i execute any command or hatch, then closes.
    Would You help me, with this please?

    I would like to say that all my drivers are update. I’m really desperate cause i tried every possible fix, and nothing solves the problem, microsoft really sucks and lies about their fake support for 4k displays and this is not a new issue.
    My laptop: Inspiron 7548/17″ 4k display touch/Intel core I7/Intel graphics hd5500/amd radeon m7 r265/16gb ram
    Thanx.

    1. That article is wrong because it doesn’t take into account any existing manifests a program may have. If you follow the instructions exactly step-by-step in this article, your apps will scale properly and if there are any issues caused by incorrect manifest info, they will be fixed. If your AutoCAD issue is from some other problem, it won’t be fixed on its own. Try System Restore.

    2. Did you figure it out Eric? I have the exact same problem – when I have the manifest file and use the command “MOVE” in 3d it will crash every time, but if I delete the manifest file it won’t crash, but then I’m stuck with the small icons…

      This problem persists with both this solution and the other solution from the link in your comment

      Help would be much appreciated

  7. THANK YOU!
    This guy http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/2935340 made all your steps and created file for 3dsmax 2016!! I installed it !! and IT WORKS!! finally! thank you, i thought it would not ever happen cuz i have Macbook Pro and i work in3dsmax!! THANK you. yeah its blurry a little bit , but nevertheless you re great and your solution is great!!!

  8. Curious, with the update of this manifest and any other changes you’re making… Are they reversible? and has anyone had any troubles after W10 has done updates?
    I’m currently looking to implement this on AutoDesk 2014 Design Suite Premium (full suite).

    Running on a Dell 7510 : 4k screen : 64GB Ram : 1TB M.2 PCIe : Windows 10 (anniversary update)

    1. The file is just an external manifest so it can simply be deleted any time and Windows will fall back automatically to the internal manifest. The reg key only flips to prefer external first, then internal.

      1. So, if by chance you had to revert back… you just delete the manifest file and the registry edit doesn’t need updating again? ie: if it doesn’t find the external manifest it defaults to the internal?
        Thanks

        To Greg Malone (below)
        Yep that would be great if MS made it that simple for everyone.

  9. Your patch illustrates how Microsoft dev could SO easily provide an additional program compatibility checkbox “Override program’s hi-dpi awareness flag”. Such an easy fix if they could open their eyes.

  10. Thank you for instruction I was able to use it on one program, but can’t figure out how to use it on Sony Vegas Pro.
    Can you help me out?
    Here’s lines from Manifest, I tried to insert new lines but it the Vegas won’t start because side-by-side configuration isn’t correct…
    So where should I insert this new lines or whats wrong ?
    Thanks in advance.

    [quote] true
    [/quote]

  11. I’ve tried this several times now on one application. When I try to start it after the change I get the message about the side by side settings in the manifest being incorrect. Any hope?

    1. You will get this message if you copy-pasted the DPI awareness information in the wrong section of the manifest file. Make sure you don’t make any typos when creating the manifest and that you paste it as mentioned in the instructions. If your app no longer starts, simply delete the .exe.manifest file and it will launch once again but without the DPI virtualization scaling.

  12. I posted a comment, but now don’t see it. Anyway, there is a setting in the internal manifest that looks like this True/PM rather than just True or False. What do I do with this?

  13. I’ve tried this on both Illustrator and Photoshop CS6 with my Win 10 64 bit, updated per September 2016.
    Nothing happens, and followed the decsription point-by-point.
    Is there any Win-Updates causing this to stop working?

    1. This worked for me in the past, but It seems that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (1607) has rendered this fix useless :/ (https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/askcore/2016/08/16/display-scaling-changes-for-the-windows-10-anniversary-update/)

    2. I just did this with both Illustrator and Photoshop for CS6 with brand new Surface Book and up to date Win10. It worked fine. There is a trick in that I had to find where the .exe files (and not the shortcuts) were for both 64bit and other versions. When I did this and put the external manifest into both folders for each program (total of 4 different locations), it now works for each. The only remaining problem is that opening directly from dropbox or Firefox-downloaded file causes it to use the tiny Illustrator. I am not sure why. Some problem with Adobe Distiller? If I take the same file, though and save it somewhere (eg, desktop) and double click, it opens with Illustrator with non-micro fonts and tools (ie, it works).

      1. Another couple of things. Photoshop CS6 did not seem to have any DPI settings in the internal manifest viewable by ResourceHacker. So I had to cut and paste. The first time I did this, I left off the open bracket at the beginning of the text to paste in the DPI settings. That cause PS to hang when opening with a defective manifest or some such error. I discovered I hadn’t selected and copied the open bracket, inserted it, resaved, and everything worked.

        1. works for me with Photoshop CS6 – but one issue remains: Pencil (and rubber, etc) is shown somewhat smaller than is the line that it is drawing. That makes excat drawing quite impossible!

  14. I did this once on a Lenovo tablet, & it worked. But, When I tried to do it again on a Surface Pro 4, when I try to open Remote Desktop, I get “The application was unable to start correctly (0xc000007b)….”. How can I fix this?

    1. You will get this message if you copy-pasted the DPI awareness information in the wrong section of the manifest file. Make sure you don’t make any typos or formatting errors when creating the manifest and that you paste it as mentioned in the instructions. If your app no longer starts, simply delete the .exe.manifest file and it will launch once again but without the DPI virtualization scaling. Also, you must reboot Windows after setting the Registry value to prefer external manifests.

          1. Any fix for this? We have a program called LabChart. If I use the example .manifest you have, I get the error “This program can’t start because MSVCP90.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem”. I found another example of the .manifest file that works for Photoshop here http://www.danantonielli.com/adobe-app-scaling-on-high-dpi-displays-fix/&#8230; if I copy it and launch, I get the error @Lee mentions “The application was unable to start correctly (0xc000007b)….”.

            I’m assuming there can be application specific nuances, any links to those? This is external manifest reg set since the .exe doesn’t have the 24 entry.

  15. IMPORTANT: Beware of using PreferExternalManifest in Windows 7 (x64), as it causes the following side effects:

    1. ressource monitor (resmon.exe) not starting anymore.
    2. network status icon not displayed in taskbar, option is greyed out in system icons
    4. maintenance center icon not displayed in taskbar and greyed out in system icons
    3. clock/calendar popup does not display upon left click on taskbar clock

    all of the above will not log any errors or hints.
    i just found this by pure luck during rolling back my previous changes.

  16. So when I get to the section where I save the exe.manifest file to the directory for my program. It says I don’t have permission to save to that file and to notify the admin for permission. I am currently the admin on my laptop. Is there a way around this?

    1. i fished everything restarted my laptop and now when i try to open the program it just says “Your system does not meet the minimal requirements. (Service Pack 3+)” any help would be greatly appreciated!

      1. Some portion of your manifest file must have been incorrect. Just delete the manifest and your program will work again (without scaling) of course. I can’t help you from here, you’ve to carefully create the manifest yourself without any mistakes.

    2. Since (i think) vista windows protects the Program Files folder even if you are an admin. Ive always found that quite annoying.

      In my opinion its easier to create the manifest file on your desktop then copy it into the appropriate folder. It should prompt you when you try to copy it into the folder, just click continue (or whatever it is to accept).

  17. Just a thank you for this tutorial.

    Just a note when i ran resource hacker there was no resource 24, resource hacker listed a resource as manifest so i used that on the assumption that it was the key to copy.
    I tried it on a different app and found the DPIAware in there so hopefully thats what i was meant to do.

    Martin

  18. I have been having troubles with a few apps that use javaw.exe. With 1 it works, but with the other it doesn’t. The non-working program is Docear. It has it’s own exe, but when I put the manifest there, no go. It is running javaw.exe, so if I put a manifest file there, still no go. If I try running with compatibility mode, again still no go. Any thoughts?

    1. Fixed: I put x3 manifest files in my java install folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre1.8.0_121\bin), not sure which fixed it, but Java apps scale correctly now =D
      java.exe.manifest
      javaw.exe.manifest
      javaws.exe.manifest

      Joh

  19. Managed to make partial use of this fix for an “assistant” application that runs in conjunction with a game client but unfortunately, it seems to have only affected the launcher and not the assistant itself or even the game client.

    I’m certain that it’s possible for DPI to affect the assistant’s launcher, the app itself, and the game client as there is another assistant app that scales just fine.

    Any potential advice for a fix?

    I should probably note that these assistant applications are NOT “cheat” software or malicious in any way. I wouldn’t normally address this but I’m concerned that I may draw potential troll responses otherwise.

    Thanks!

  20. This worked for me (windows 10). Thanks very much for such detailed instructions!

    One additional issue I had to work around in order for this to work:
    After completing the last step in your tutorial and restarting my pc, I found that Sony Vegas Pro 13 would not open; I was getting an error message that reads “Vegas Pro has stopped working” (screen shot: https://i.imgsafe.org/c3dc4419b7.png). After looking into this more, I found a tutorial on youtube (here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEfc2xjNfqY ) that explained how to work around this error message. Just as is described in the video, changing the name of the ErrorReportClient.exe file by at least one character will allow the application to run without the error message appearing. I also found (actually even before I found the video) that removing that file from the EXE application folder entirely also worked, but since that seemed a bit riskier as a long-term solution, I decided to ultimately go with fix described in the video. Please do let me know if you know of a reason why this works or if one solution is better than the other in this case. Thanks!

  21. today is 1/17/17: Great tutorial……… I’ve been looking for this info for several days.
    I have a Surface Pro 4. If I set the default display magnification from 200% to 125% the printing is so small it makes my eyes burn after a few hours.
    PROBLEM: I can’t get this to work on any applications.

    Did a recent change to Windows 10 render this fix obsolete?

  22. Thank you, sir! you saved me a lot of pain! I used to switch between 4K and 1080p on my laptop just to let it work but now I can finally do everything on native resolution

  23. Hi,
    I’m trying to fix the E-Trade Pro on my win10 OS but no success. Please help!.. Thanks much
    Here is theE-Trade Pro EXE file from hacker app.

  24. Hello,
    I tried tu use this method to play to Ages Of Empire II HD on my Surface Pro4. But It didn’t work..
    Anyone with the same problem?
    The icons are really small in the game :/ Impossible to read.
    An idea ? I did’nt find Resource 24 in the software so I just copied the “AoK HD.exe.manifest” in the folder with the game. And add a file in regedit. Nothing happened !
    Help please !

  25. Try this one https://community.perfectomobile.com/posts/1135007-solution-for-eclipse-with-high-resolution-laptops, which may solve the issue.

  26. First didn’t work but then I carefully re-read the guide and folllowed the steps to the point and now I’m very thankful!

  27. The fix does not work for Google Earth Pro. Though it does work for all the programs have I used it for. It’s a great saver – Thanks for that. If you could help for Google Earth Pro too, it would be much appreciated.

    1. Found a fix specific for Google Earth pro, It works – https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/maps/GVqXjBRHQFY/8TU_-ZnlCAAJ

    1. Breaking things that worked perfectly is Microsoft’s specialty with Windows. Just avoid the crap and use Windows 8.1 with Classic Shell.

  28. I am following your directions to fix some apps on my new laptop. I am trying to fix Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0. I opened the EXE in Resource Hacker and there was a manifest resource, but it wasn’t stored as Resource type 24. I wasn’t sure if I need to follow the directions for when there is no manifest resource or following the directions for when there is a manifest resource?

    1. I edited following the directions for when there is a manifest resource. It worked perfectly, thank you!

  29. Just wanted to report that as far as Microsoft Office is concerned, this wonderful tweak works for Office 2007 and Office 2010 but I haven’t got it to work for Office XP and Office 2003. I’ve no idea why Word/Excel/PPT 2002 and 2003 ignore the DPI section of the manifest completely and use their own custom DPI scaling which is utterly and horribly broken on modern high resolution displays. Office 2013 is natively high-DPI aware so it’s no issue. Haven’t tried Office 2000 and Office 97.

  30. FIX – Photoshop desktop was way too small to read on my 4K display. SID (above) was close.

    The FIX for this problem: Right click App, Properties, Capability, Select “Override high DPI scaling behavior. Scaling performed by: System”.

    Win 10, ASUS Notebook, K501UX-WH74, Photoshop CS3.

  31. Hey there,
    worked perfectly fine in 3d s Max 2016 for me… But… I have no Idea why, when I want to export something as a FBX, all the letters are “kind of” chinese?
    As soon I remove the Manifest, it is fixed again.
    Has anyone a solution for this
    Thank you ^^

  32. It is quite possible that newer versions of Windows 10 rendered this fix obsolete. As in, it may not be required or Microsoft in their infinite wisdom broke it. I still use Windows 8.1, so I wouldn’t know until I move to Windows 10. Check out the scaling options natively built into Windows 10 first on the Compatibility tab. Maybe they got their act together. Some people report that by choosing one of the options from “Scaling performed by” on Windows 10 versions after Anniversary Update (1607), the issue is fixed with the app instead of following this long procedure.

  33. Purchased a computer with a 4K resolution recently. It is great, but lots of apps very tiny. Started to feel that I had bought something I couldn’t use. Tried your hack – works great! And on my machine, the text isn’t even blurry! Your post is a lifesaver! Thanks a lot!

  34. This fix didn’t work for me.
    I have tried this fix for Adobe Illustrator 2020
    I am running Win7 64 bit Home Edition/ 19″ monitor (laptop) 1600*900 native resolution.
    I couldn’t for the life of me find a solution anywhere on the internet, and I really need to use the program.
    If anyone reading this message has found a solution for the horribly minuscule UI for the system/program combination I have mentioned above, could you please contact me on : fb(dot)com/Taoufik090
    Thank you very much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

css.php
Using Telegram? Subscribe to the blog channel!
Hello. Add your message here.