Video Display Distorted after Reinstalling Windows XP?

Dennis Faas's picture

Gazette Reader 'Stacy97' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Recently, I had to reinstall Windows XP. Ever since then, I am having a problem with my display: the font size is much too large. On some pages that are displayed, the sentences all run together because the words are too large. Also, the contrast is horrible and pictures are fuzzy. I've tried changing my screen resolution, but I only have the ability to use 640x480 resolution and 4 colors maximum. Can you help? "

My response:

If your resolution and color slide bar are locked, it's because your video card driver has not been installed properly (or at all). A driver is a software program that controls a hardware component (in this case, your video card). Windows XP recognizes most hardware installed in our computer automatically, but some hardware components need specialized drivers to function properly.

The first step in installing any driver is to identify the make and model number of the hardware component (in this case, your video card). To do so: launch Device Manager in Windows XP; you will see a list of devices that are installed on your computer, as well as any devices that are not functioning properly [denoted by a yellow exclamation mark or a yellow question mark]. Hint: one way to access the Device Manager is to click Start -> Run -> and then type in "devmgmt.msc" (no quotes), and press Enter.

Depending on the type of your video adapter, Windows XP may (or may not) recognize the brand and model number of the card and it may be listed under "unknown devices"; otherwise, it should be listed under "display adapters". If the card is listed under "display adapters", you should be able to retrieve the make and model number of the card by double-clicking on it. If this is the case, write the information down on a piece of paper and set it aside.

If you own an original CD with your video card driver, simply insert it into the computer and the driver should install automatically. If it doesn't, go back to Device Manager, click on the video adapter -> Driver tab -> "Update Driver", and point it to your CD ROM disc. You may need to navigate through a series of folders on the driver CD before you are able to click "OK" (hint: in most cases, there should be a folder called "windows xp" or "winxp").

If you do not own a video card driver CD, then you will need to download the driver off the web. You can visit the manufacturer's web site and download the latest driver there, or go to Google and type in the make, model number, and then followed by the word "driver".

If you do not know the make or model number of the video card through Device Manager, you will need to power off your computer, unplug it, open it up, pull out your video card, and obtain the model number that way.

Good luck!

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