There are few things more frustrating and disorienting than trying to use a blurry display. My husband and I have come across this issue a few different times now while working from home.
Each time, a different fix ended up being the solution.
To fix a blurry screen, first exit ‘Safe Mode’, inspect the display cable, and set the monitor to the maximum resolution. Next, adjust ‘ClearType’ text and check for display scaling issues. Lastly, update and reinstall the graphics driver.
So, what causes a blurry screen in the first place? What gives? As it turns out, there are 6 primary causes:
- Computer is running in safe mode
- Video cables are damaged or not firmly secured
- Monitor resolution set too low
- ClearType settings have not been calibrated
- Scaling issue due to improper display properties
- Missing or outdated device drivers
Often times your issue may be due to one or a combination of these leading causes. Not a computer nerd? Unsure of where to even begin?
Read on for further step-by-step instructions and supportive images to get your monitor looking crisp and clear!
Step 1: Exit Safe Mode
Sometimes your PC may reboot into Safe Mode without you even realizing it.
Safe Mode will automatically activate if it your PC crashes more than once during startup. It is typically used to make computer repairs if you suspect your device is infected with malware.
You may also activate it if specific software has not been installed correctly and you wish to troubleshoot your system.
When activated, Safe Mode loads a standard video driver at a low resolution. This causes your desktop and programs to look different and may be the cause of your blurry screen.
Clues that you are in Safe Mode include larger than normal icons, out of place icons, and your PC sound not working.
To cancel Safe Mode, use your desktop search bar to locate the System Configuration tool. In the tool, select the Boot tab and uncheck the Safe boot box if it is selected. Click Apply and then Restart your computer.
What if Safe boot box is NOT selected, but you still suspect your PC is in Safe Mode?
In this case you will need to head to your original PC menu at startup.
For Windows 7 or below, you will need to press F8 in one-second intervals during the restart process. Once the Advanced Boot Options menu is activated, select the Start Windows Normally option.
For Windows 8 and 10, in the Shutdown menu hold the Shift key simultaneously as you click Restart. Then select the Troubleshoot page and choose Advanced options and then Startup Settings. Once you restart your computer, you will now automatically enter the Startup Settings screen. Finally, select return to your operating system and your PC should load normally from here.
Step 2: Inspect the video cable and confirm a secure connection
Whether you are using the newer USB-C, HDMI or DisplayPort (DP) video cables or the older VGA or DVI cables, closely inspect it for any visible damage.
Pay extra attention to the pin connectors located inside the cable head. Overtime these pins can bend or break resulting in poor contact with the correspond receiving port.
When you go to plug the cable back in, insert the heads carefully but firmly into their respective ports to ensure a secure connection.
If you find your screen is still blurry, try using a different type of video cable than the one you are using. If your screen becomes clear your video cable is the issue.
Step 3: Set Monitor To Max Resolution
In the vast majority of cases it is recommended that you use your monitor’s native resolution.
The native resolution of your monitor is simply the maximum number of pixels your monitor is capable of displaying.
Low monitor resolution settings can cause image distortions that manifests as a blurry screen.
To update your resolution, use your desktop search bar to locate the Display settings. Under the Display resolution section click the drop down menu. From here, select the maximum resolution setting available (this should also be designated as Recommended).
To ensure you are getting the most out of your monitor, you should also optimize your monitor’s brightness while you are at it. Often times you can spend big money for a high resolution monitor – take advantage of it!
Step 4: Adjust ClearType Text
At this stage, if most of the display looks fine but you are still observing blurry text, you may want to re-calibrate your ClearType.
ClearType is Microsoft developed software that improves the readability of text on your display. It is enabled by default in Windows 7, 8, and 10.
Often times when your text has a granular, uneven look you can easily fix this by adjusting your ClearType.
To adjust your ClearType, use your desktop search bar to locate Adjust ClearType text in the Control Panel. From here make sure the Turn on ClearType box is checked and select Next.
Then simply follow the instructions and tell ClearType what font displays appear best. ClearType will do the rest!
Step 5: Check For Display Scaling Issues
First and foremost, how do you know if you are encountering display scaling issues?
Common display scaling problems include distorted icons, apps, and toolbars. Various desktop items may appear too large or too small relative to other items. And finally, text may appear blurry.
Adjusting your resolution settings is one display scaling issue we have already addressed.
Some other common display scaling fixes include:
- Log out and then log back in to your Windows account. When you do this, Windows automatically resets the display configuration. Often times this can fix your scaling issues right away.
- Allow windows to try and fix the problem by turning on Fix scaling for apps. To do this type Fix apps that are blurry into your search bar. In the Advanced scaling setting box toggle Let Windows try to fix apps so they’re not blurry to ON.
- Make sure you have the recommended size set for text, apps and other items. To check this type Display in the search bar and navigate to the Scale and layout section. Then use the drop down menu to select 100% (Recommended).
Step 6: Update And Reinstall Graphics Drivers
When it comes to device drivers, you need to be sure to routinely check for software updates.
Software updates can fix all sorts of bugs. Overtime, if you do not update Windows to the latest version, you can run into display driver compatibility issues. If this is the case there is a good chance this is causing the problem!
Check for any pending software updates by going to Settings and selecting Windows Update.
Sometimes the graphics driver is specifically to blame. To test this, first try to update the graphics driver directly.
Once again head over to the search box and this time enter Device Manager. Right-click on the name of your graphic device, and select Update Driver.
If this does not fix the problem try uninstalling the graphics driver by right-clicking and selecting Uninstall.
Then simply Restart your computer – Windows will automatically attempt to reinstall the graphics driver during startup.
Gaming Monitor Looks Grainy – NVIDIA Troubleshooting
Attention all of you gamers out there. If you have tried all of the steps above but your monitor is still grainy, the issue likely exists within your NVIDIA control panel.
Let’s review how to fix the three most common NVIDIA control panel issues.
Activate Full RGB Dynamic Range
Limited RGB range settings can cause a grainy screen. To fix this you will need to change your RGB settings to full.
- Within the NVIDIA Control Panel navigation tree pane under Display, click Change Resolution.
- Select the Output color format drop-down menu and then select RGB.
- Next, select the Output dynamic range drop-down menu and then select Full (0-255).
- Click Apply.
This will enable the full RGB range of applications on HD displays that support it.
Disable Anti-aliasing (AA)
Anti-aliasing (AA) is a post processing filtering technique that attempts to minimize distortions. When turned on, the anti-aliasing effect typically makes text look poor.
To disable anti-aliasing (AA):
- Within the NVIDIA Control Panel navigation tree pane click Manage 3D Settings.
- Select Antialiasing – Mode and then select OFF in the box next to it.
Reset NVIDIA graphics card to factory settings
Popular posts and videos make a lot of recommendations on how to optimize your graphics cards settings for gaming. Unfortunately, many of these changes can add graininess to your screen.
To reset the NVIDIA graphics card in your computer to its factory settings:
- Within the NVIDIA Control Panel navigation tree pane click Manage 3D Settings.
- Click Restore Defaults option located in the upper right corner of the 3D Settings window.
If you’re dealing with a blurry screen and you long for a crisp and clear display, follow these six troubleshooting steps:
- Exit safe mode
- Inspect the video cable and confirm a secure connection
- Set monitor to max resolution
- Adjust ClearType text
- Check for display scaling issues
- Update and reinstall graphics drivers
You are now ready to get back to work, gaming or, let’s be honest, wasting too much time on YouTube.
Were you able to get rid of your blurry display? If so, let me know which fix worked for you in the comments section below!
Chelsea Ashbrook is a Senior Manager of Corporate Digital Experience at Genentech. Chelsea received her B.A. from the University of Connecticut and has spent the last 11 years working in the technology field.