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Why Does My Resolution Change When I Connect To A Projector?


Projectors are great for creating home theaters. If you’re a teacher, it’s a fast way to teach a lesson. However, one common issue happens when you connect your projector. Your resolution changes, making it difficult to do anything.

So why does your resolution change when you connect to a projector? How can you fix the problem?

The quick answer is simple. A projector connected to a computer or laptop, each with a different resolution, will look distorted when connected. Let’s take a look at Windows and Mac settings.

But Why Does The Resolution Change When You Connect it?

resolution changes when connecting to projector

When connected to a computer, the change happens because the resolution in the computer and the projector are different. Simply put, both resolutions don’t match.

Therefore, it’s essential to check your computer resolution and your projector resolution.

How to Fix this Problem?

Fixing the problem is easy. If you’re using Windows, click on Start. Then click on Control Panel. Head to Appearances and Personalization. Click Display and then click Display Settings.

Once you’re in Display Settings, click on Detect. It will show you both screens.

If by chance, both screens appear on top of one another, drag one to the side.

Now click on your monitor. Navigate to the resolution option and click the downward-facing arrow until you set it to native resolution.

Do the same on the projector’s monitor. Then, accept all changes by clicking ‘okay.’

change screens resolution computer projector

Notable Options to Consider

Considering some of you may have different versions of Windows, Macs, or other troubleshooting questions, we will try to address them below.

So, if you’re still struggling to correct your projector resolution issues, continue reading to find a solution to your problem.

In some versions of Windows, navigating to your screen resolution settings might be a little different.

If that’s the case, consider right-clicking on your desktop and clicking on Screen Resolutions.

Now proceed through the steps mentioned above.

Have You Checked Your Connection?

VGA Connection between projector and PC

Sometimes the issue is as simple as checking your connection.

First, make sure your connections are secure. If they are and you’re still having resolution issues, let’s continue.

Common connections are VGA, S-Video, DVI, and HDMI, with HDMI cables having the best connection, ensuring better resolution.

Considering the different types of connections, make sure you’re using the proper cables.

Here’s a tip, always disconnect the monitor before connecting to your projector.

Have you Checked Your Video Output Settings?

Depending on the type of computer you have, you might have more than one video source.

This means you have to decide how to project your desktop once connected to your projector.

If this is the case, click Windows-P on your keyboard to bring up your video output options.

Video Output Settings

These options may include, Computer Only settings, Duplicate, Projector Only settings, or Extend settings.

If you wish to display identical images on both your desktop and projector, click on the Duplicate setting. This is most likely the setting you’re looking for.

Clicking the Extend option will stretch your computer image between your desktop and projector.

Computer Only or Projector Only settings don’t usually need to be adjusted.

More Screen Resolution Settings

If you have multiple monitors and have a projector, you might have to adjust your resolution settings again.

Navigate to your screen resolution settings.

First, make sure you click on the correct monitor you’re about to change settings for. In this case, we want to adjust the projector settings. Click that monitor in your settings.

Once you’ve selected the projectors monitor in the settings, click on Resolution and change the resolution to your desired setting.

Changing this particular resolution will not change the resolution on your computer. Instead, it will only adjust your projectors resolution.

Other Things to Consider

projecting on the wall

Are you still having resolution issues?

Consider the distance between the projector itself and the wall it’s being projected on. Is the projector close enough to display a clear image?

Is the wall white enough to enable a clear image?

Placing the projected image on a wall that’s not white will not give you a clear image.

Also, placing the projector too far or too close will give you a blurry image. It may also display distorted images, even if all of your settings are correct.

If any of these issues persist, consider reading the projector’s manual for further instructions.

Mac Settings

It comes to no surprise that Mac’s also have the same resolution change problem.

When connecting your Mac to a projector, your resolution on your Mac either shrinks or changes entirely.

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

In an effort to correct the issue, one screen (usually your Mac, will shrink its resolution and size.)

Not so different from a Windows computer, your Mac also needs to match the projector’s resolution.

To navigate to your resolution settings, first proceed to System Preferences.

Now click on Display, then Color.

Find Projector. Click on it.

Now, two different color wheels open up. One adjusts the color your Mac displays on the projector. The other controls the brightness.

To adjust the brightness color wheel, click and drag the slider until only one rotating circle can be seen inside the black circle.

To correct the color balance, click and drag the color wheel until you get it as white as possible.

These settings will give you the clearest image for your projector.

Other Mac Resolution Settings

It’s important to note that some Mac resolution display settings are somewhat hidden. To reveal them all, navigate to System Preferences, then Display.

Underneath the Display panel, press and hold Alt and Option. Now click the Scaled button.

This will reveal the resolution settings for your computer.

If your projector is currently connected, the projector’s resolution will not appear here.

In this case, hold the Option key and click Scaled to display a list for all connected monitors and projector resolution settings.

change projector resolution for Mac

Your Resolution Changes, Solved

Unintentional changes in electronics can sometimes be overwhelming. But the changes in resolution are your computer’s way of attempting to solve the problem.

However, now that you know how to fix it, you can give your computer a little help.


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