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.

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