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I'm using Windows 7 on a 8.9' monitor with 1280x768 screen resolution. Using the might of arithmetics, I'm able to determine that my dpi (actually ppi) should be 167. Win7 is really helpful in that it doesn't have to restart to apply new dpi settings, unlike its predecessors (though I'd rather it applies straight away).

The problem with small monitors in Windows is that when you come across windows too big to fit the screen, you can't move the title bar far above it. In X window managers I used in the past, you could alt-drag the window to anywhere you want, but in Windows, even if you alt-space and select move, it will automatically push the window back until the title bar is visible.

I'm looking for a solution that either:

  • allows me to move window freely without regard to titlebar visibility, or
  • attach a scrollbar to existing window, or
  • create virtual desktops that allow me to span windows over 2 desktops, or
  • allow me to set larger virtual resolution, then pan & scan.

EDIT:

I found some progs that might do some of the above:

  1. AltDrag

    Allows me to drag, resize using alt and left/right mouse button. Neat! Best solution so far.

  2. GiMeSpace Desktop Extender

    Is supposed to allow me to scroll desktop. Didn't work. The other new version, GiMeSpace Ultimate Taskbar worked, but it destroys my Superbar, replacing it with its map.

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migrated from serverfault.com Jul 12 '10 at 23:07

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

6 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Introduction

A month of using GimmeSpace Desktop Extender in Windows 7 has given me a headache, literally. But I've figured out how to get a pan-and-scan virtual desktop in Windows 7 using ATI Radeon video cards and I'm sure that folks using NVIDIA cards can figure out how to do it with them too using the basic principles described below. Essentially you'll want to force install a Windows XP video driver in Windows 7. Read on for details, in the extreme.

Thanks to the spouse of a friend who is a hardware engineer at a company that must remain nameless, I have learned how to set up a pan-and-scan virtual desktop in Windows 7. It took some experimenting, but his suggestions eventually worked. I am writing this on a pan-and-scan virtual desktop in Windows 7.

Technical Basis

Microsoft caused the problem when it created the Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) for VISTA and now Windows 7. It's Windows 98SE all over again where Microsoft disabled the ability to create a pan-and-scan virtual desktop in order to encourage consumers to buy two monitors.

WDDM disables this capability. However, WDDM is only the default system for graphics in Windows 7 and VISTA. The old Windows XP Display Driver Model (XPDM) is still present in Windows VISTA and and Windows 7. The key is that you must force install the Windows XP display driver for your ATI card (and I would bet this would work with NVIDIA-based cards as well). The Windows XP display driver uses the XPDM graphics system that's still within Windows 7 and VISTA. You must install only the display driver. Do not install the Catalyst Control Center (hereinafter called CCC).

This approach works if your monitor is connected via VGA or DVI. It didn't work for me when I tried HDMI.

Note that this is not quite a fine a pan-and-scan virtual desktop like you can get in Windows XP using the CCC to set it up. The virtual desktop is not quite a wide or tall as what I could get in XP. But it beats a static desktop for me and maybe for you as well.

Doing this will disable the Aero graphics in Windows 7 because they use the WDDM graphics system. I can live without the visual candy of Aero, even though it really did look nice. But I'll sacrifice good lucks for functionality any time -- when it comes to a computer.

Steps To Take

Here's how to do it if (1) you are installing Windows 7 and have not yet installed ATI CCC, and (2) if you have already installed Windows 7.

This is a step-by-step guide, probably more detail than most readers need.

  1. If you are just installing Windows 7 and haven't installed ATI Catalyst Control Center yet:

    1. After you've installed Windows 7 and your Internet Security program, download from ATI the Windows XP driver for 32 or 64 bit Windows. I recommend that you find the 10.4 version of the Windows XP driver since I know it works. More recent versions may work, but I have not tested them. To get to the 10.4 version (which was released in late April 2010) follow the steps to find the Windows XP drivers for your ATI card. This will get you to a screen with a black background for the AMD Radeon Video Card Drivers (I'll use my card for this example). Near the bottom of the box with the drivers is a link called Previous Drivers. Click on the link and pick the Catalyst 10.4 choice. Go to the Individual Downloads and select the Display Driver or the WDM Integrated Driver. Download it. You may also want to download the ATI HDMI Audio Driver and the Avivo Package of Video Codecs. I imagine you could download the whole CCC package and use it (which is what I guess I actually did). More recent versions may work. I just haven't tried them yet.

    2. Go into your Device Manager (right click My Computer and select Manage). If there's a display adapter for your video card, double click it and uninstall (and delete) the video driver that's there. Restart Windows 7.

    3. Run the ATI file you downloaded so that it sets up its files in

      C:\ATI\Support\10-4_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu
      

      That's the subdirectory when you use the full ATI package. Cancel the installation.

    4. Go into your file manager (Windows Explorer, Directory Opus, or other file manager) and go to

      C:\ATI\Support\10-4_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu
      

      Right click on Setup.exe and choose Properties. Click on the Compatibility tab and under Compatibility Mode check Run this program in compatibility mode for Windows XP (SP 3). Also under Privilege Level, check Run this program as an administrator.

    5. Do the same thing for

      C:\ATI\Support\10-4_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu\Bin\Setup.exe
      

      and for

      C:\ATI\Support\10-4_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu\Bin\ATISetup.exe
      

      I don't know if it was necessary, but I did something similar with

      C:\ATI\Support\10-4_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu\Config\atiicdxx.msi
      

      where I selected running the program in compatibility mode for the *previous version of Windows (I have a dual boot with Windows XP -- I don't know what would be available if you don't have a dual boot set up). I did the same thing for the file

      C:\ATI\Support\10-4_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu\Packages\Drivers\WDM\RIO\XP\atirioxp.msi
      
    6. Then run

      C:\ATI\Support\10-4_xp32_dd_ccc_wdm_enu\setup.exe
      

      You must choose a custom installation when given the choice between Express and Custom.

    7. When you get to the list of items to install, check the ATI Display Driver. Uncheck Catalyst Control Center (CCC). If you install it, CCC will crash and give you BSOD whenever you run CCC. I let it also install the AVIVO codecs and the ATI Problem Report Wizard. After installation, restart Windows 7.

    8. Right click your desktop and select Screen Resolution. Go to Advanced Settings and click on the Monitor tab. Uncheck Hide modes that this monitor cannot display. Click the Okay button. Back in the Change the Appearance of Your Display window, click on Resolution. There should be at least one choice at the top of the scale that is a higher resolution than what your monitor actually supports. Select and apply one of them. In my case, my monitor's actual resolution is 1920 x 1200. These steps gave me a 2048 x 1536 resolution -- and a pan-and-scan virtual desktop. It's not as large the the pan-and-scan I could get in Windows XP, but it works. I can open my desktop publishing program full page and not have to waste time and energy using the scroll bars.

  2. If Windows 7 is already installed and you have already installed ATI Catalyst Control Center:

    The only real difference from the instructions above is that you need to completely uninstall the Windows 7 CCC and the other Windows 7 ATI features that are already installed. You can open the Control Panel and pick Programs and Features. Scroll down to the ATI Catalyst Control Manager and right click it. Select Change. You can either pick the Uninstall Manager to uninstall CCC, the display driver (if possible), and other features -- or select Express Uninstall ALL ATI Software. Either way, you need to uninstall all the ATI video-related software and restart Windows 7. You should also be sure to perform Step B above to make sure the ATI driver is uninstalled and deleted.

The remaining steps should enable you to produce the pan-and-scan virtual desktop.

Caution

One of my programs consistently caused a BSOD after I made these changes. It's a freeware text editor called EditPad Lite 6.4.4. I don't know why it would crash Windows 7, but it did so every time I ran it. So I just got another freeware text editor. Hopefully all of your programs will run just fine.

That's it. Hopefully this procedure will work for you. Please let us all know it goes for you.

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Infinite Screen is a free tool for desktop scrolling.
It allows you to set windows bigger than screen size.

Standard is pressing Ctrl+ (moving mouse to the edges) or CtrlShift+ (mouse move) and 4 others. (for scrolling to the lower part of your oversized window)

You can set your window size in the "oversize" tab of the application !

Download here: Infinite_Screen

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Excellent answer. You'll already excellent contributing member SU community. –  wizlog Aug 19 '12 at 16:25
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In windows 7, the capability to manually move a window was hidden, however it is still possible to move a window with the keyboard. To do so, hold SHIFT, and right-click the task bar button of the window you need to move (or resize, etc.). Click move, and you can use the keyboard arrows to move the window around the screen. You can also use the mouse, but you must press an arrow at least once to enable mouse move ability.

Seeing as the above does not actually work to get the titlebar off the screen, perhaps one of these virtual desktop managers will help:

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That's the same as pressing alt-space on active window (and I prefer alt-space, my habit since Win3.1). No, it will still bump the title bar back in view. You can try out yourself: select move, move with keyboard using arrow keys, then confirm by pressing enter. It won't work if you move too far up, but will work if you move too far down (as long as title bar is still in view). –  syockit Jul 13 '10 at 23:55
    
@syockit: Well, seems your right. I never noticed that before. Seeing as you edited your question asking about virtual desktops, I've updated my answer. –  jrista Jul 14 '10 at 0:34
    
Thank you for the suggestions! Alas, none of them allows for spanning of windows over multiple desktops. –  syockit Jul 16 '10 at 17:16
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I can't think of any off the top of my head, but most X setups allow moving a window by clicking and dragging anywhere on it while alt is pressed so it might be worth searching for tools that try to mimic X and other Unix-y behaviours on Windows. Like X-focus in the MS PowerToys though that (as the name suggests) only tweaks focusing behaviour and nothing else.

(sorry that isn't an actual answer, but it may give you some new search terms to try search for)

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Yup, there's AltDrag for Windows. –  syockit Mar 1 '11 at 9:03
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In similar situations (servers that default to 800x600 and applying HP Proliant service packs) I've had fair luck double-clicking on the title-bar to 'maximize' the window. Sometimes, this gets all the UI elements sorted so it all fits. It looks ugly, but at least I can click that OK button in the bottom right.

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Most of the time, it's the programmer's fault. That's why I get stuck with certain dialog windows, because they disable the resizing, yet they don't follow GUI conventions (c'mon, guys! You're not programming for just one system with fixed configs!) –  syockit Mar 1 '11 at 9:06
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Windows isn't designed to work with a screen that small without letting screen elements become smaller. If this were a 96 DPI standard display, it would only be 736x441, and there will be things that just won't fit.

As a compromise you could try 120 DPI.

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