Why Does My Resolution Shrink When I Connect to a Projector? MacBook & Windows Guide

Windows 10 laptop is connected to a benQ projector and setting for resolution

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What To Know

  • Resolution shrinkage typically happens when the laptop’s output resolution doesn’t match the projector’s native resolution, like a 1280×720 output to a 1920×1080 projector, causing the projector to adjust the image, leading to a smaller or altered display.

In this article, we’ll explore why resolution shrinkage occurs when connecting a laptop to a projector and offer effective solutions to align their resolutions for an optimal display.

This common issue, often stemming from mismatched resolutions, can be resolved with a few simple adjustments.

Let’s delve into fixing this frustrating problem and enhancing your viewing experience.

Understanding the Resolutions Mismatch

The mismatch resolutions between the laptop and the projector result out shrinking resolution

As the laptop and projector spring to life, the excitement quickly fades when you notice that the resolution has shrunk.

This occurs when the native resolution of the projector and the resolution of your laptop’s display fail to align. 

For example, let’s say your projector boasts a crystal-clear resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, but your laptop is sending a lower resolution signal of 1280×720. 

In an attempt to adapt, the projector adjusts the image to fit its native resolution, resulting in a smaller-sized image on the screen.

To avoid this issue, it is important to ensure that the resolution settings for your projector match the resolution of your input source. Let’s explore some solutions to this problem.

Different Cables Will Output Different Resolutions

an HDMI cable and a DVI cable and a VGA cable all together on a wooden table with a white background

The type of cable you use to connect your projector can affect the resolution of the projection. 

Common display connections on projectors include VGA and HDMI. It’s important to note that VGA has a limited resolution range compared to HDMI. 

If you’re using a VGA cable for the connection, the resolution may be lower compared to an HDMI connection. HDMI supports a higher resolution range and provides better image quality.

The table below shows the maximum resolutions for VGA and HDMI cables:

Type of Cable Resolution
VGA 640 × 400 
HDMI 1.4  3840 × 2160
HDMI 2.0 5120 × 2880
HDMI 2.1 7680 × 4320

Choosing the right cable for your setup can ensure that you achieve the desired resolution when connecting to a projector.

How to Change Projector Resolution on Windows 10

If you’re using Windows 10 or higher, you can easily change the resolution of your projector. 

By adjusting the resolution settings on your Windows 10 device, you can ensure that the projected image appears as intended.

Follow these steps:

Step 1: Connect your projector to your laptop using an HDMI cable.

Step 2: Press the Windows + P keys on your keyboard and select “Extend” to display the image on the projector.

The wireless display on Windows 10 is set at Extend

Step 3: Right-click on your desktop and select Display Settings from the menu.

After right click with the mouse on Windows 10 the display settings is popped up

Step 4: In the Display settings, select the screen corresponding to your projector and scroll down to the Display resolution.Select between the screen 1 and 2 in the rearrange menu

Choose the recommended resolution for your projector, as suggested by the system.

the resolution 1024x768 is being highlighted in the Scale and Layout on Windows 10

Checking Projector Resolution on Windows 10, 11

Confirming the resolution of your projector on Windows 10 and 11 allows you to ensure it aligns with your desired setup.

Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Ensure that your projector is connected to your computer.

Step 2: Right-click on your desktop and select Display Settings.

After right click with the mouse on Windows 10 the display settings is popped up

Step 3: In the Display window that appears, scroll down and select Advanced Display Settings.

The advanced display settings on Windows 10 is being highlighted

Step 4: Change the display to your projector, and all the information about your projector’s resolution will be displayed below the settings.

The Desktop resolution is the display resolution of your projector. In my case, you can see the resolution of my Epson projector is set at 1024×768.

The choose display menu is showing the information of the Epson projector

Mac Resolution Shrinks When Connected to a Projector/TV

When you connect your Mac to an external display, the resolution on your Mac either shrinks or changes entirely. 

This is because the resolution on the projector or TV and the resolution on your Mac are different.

But don’t worry! You can change the resolution for both your Mac and the connected projector or TV. Here’s how:

Step 1: Connect your Mac to the projector or TV via HDMI ports.

Step 2: Select the Apple menu on your Mac’s desktop and choose System Preferences.

The System preferences is being highlighted when the Apple menu is clicked

Step 3: In the System Preferences window, select DisplaysDisplay Settings.

The Displays is being highlighted in the System and Preferences menu on MacBook

the Display dialogue box on MacBook

Step 4: Choose either “Extend” or “Mirror” depending on your needs.

Step 5: On the left sidebar, you’ll see the name of your MacBook and the connected projector or TV.

The display is showing the Mac screen and the default setting is being selected

Step 6: To change the resolution on your Mac, select the MacBook and choose the appropriate resolution under Scaled.

The display is showing the resolution settings on the Mac screen

Step 7: To change the resolution on the projector or TV, switch the display settings on the left sidebar.

Step 8: Under Scaled, select the resolution that fits your projector or TV.

The display settings for Sony TV is showing when the TV is connected to MacBook

Additional Tips and Considerations

In addition to the steps mentioned above, here are some additional tips and considerations to keep in mind when connecting to a projector:

  • Update your graphics drivers: Ensure that you have the latest drivers installed for your graphics card, as outdated drivers can sometimes cause resolution issues.
  • Experiment with different resolutions: If the recommended resolution doesn’t provide the desired results, try experimenting with different resolutions to find the best fit for your setup.
  • Check projector settings: Some projectors have their own settings that allow you to adjust the resolution. Consult your projector’s manual or menu options to explore these settings.
  • Use a compatible aspect ratio: Ensure that the aspect ratio of your input source matches that of the projector to avoid stretching or distorting the image.


Resolution changes when connecting to a projector can be frustrating, but with the right knowledge and steps, you can address this issue effectively. 

To ensure that your projected image appears as intended, it is important to have a thorough understanding of resolution mismatching, select the appropriate cables, and make necessary adjustments to the settings on Windows 10, 11, and Mac. 

Additionally, considering additional tips can further enhance your projection experience. 

Remember to always check the resolution of your projector and input source and make the necessary adjustments to avoid any unexpected changes in resolution.

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