The cost of looking good

Windows' display Settings screen offers me various choices for "Color" and "Desktop area". What do these options mean? What do I gain or lose by choosing a higher or lower setting -- Murray WestThese settings control how your screen looks; they're limited by the capabilities of your graphics card and monitor.

The Color Palette setting defines colour depth the number of colours the graphics card can display. The settings are a bit confusing because Windows isn't consistent as to how it defines the settings. For instance, the option 256 Colors could be described as Limited Color (8 bit), while the setting True Color (24 bit) could just as accurately be 16,777,216 colors, which is what 24-bit colour really is.

In theory, greater colour depth slows down your graphics card. But with today's cards, you're not likely to notice any difference. So my advice is to keep the colour depth as high as your system permits.

The Desktop Area setting controls your resolution the number of pixels displayed on the screen. For instance, a setting of 640 x 480 means the screen has 640 pixels on each of 480 horizontal lines. A higher resolution, such as 800 x 600, yields more and smaller pixels.

Since each of the objects on your screen icons, text, windows, and so on has a set size in pixels, a higher resolution results in smaller objects, allowing you to fit more of them on the screen. But it also makes the objects harder to see and the text harder to read.

Your best bet is to pick the resolution that you find easiest on your eyes. (You can always change the resolution or colour depth back at your convenience.) Right-click anywhere on the Desktop, select Properties, and click the Settings tab. Enter the changes you want and click either OK or Apply. After Windows makes the changes (which sometimes requires a reboot), it will ask if you want to keep the new settings. If you don't click OK within 15 seconds, Windows will return to the original settings.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?