I have a 720p 42-inch plasma TV that I like to hook up to my computer to watch video. The problem is that the computer sees the TV as a 4:3 monitor and sends it a signal with that aspect ratio, so everything comes out stretched horizontally on the TV. For videos in VLC, I can change the video's aspect ratio to compensate. But for things like Hulu and YouTube, I don't have that option. Is there any general solution for this? I can't imagine I'm the only one who has this problem, but Google fails me in finding a solution.

I'm on a MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.6, but solutions for any platform would be helpful.

  • You need a video card that can render a 1024 x 720 resolution. Not all vid cards can.
    – Moab
    Sep 5, 2010 at 21:21
  • @Moab Video cards that are 10 years old can render 1024 x 720 resolution. That resolution (720p) is considered high definition for TV content nowdays, but computers have used that resolution right back to the CRT days. I would say most desktops run at around 1400 x 1050, with some (me included) running at 1920 x 1080 res and even higher for professional setups. Bottom line: His video card can render 1024 x 720.
    – Connor W
    Sep 5, 2010 at 22:11
  • @Connor W: 720p refers to 1280x720 progressive. While cards can definitely handle a resolution of 1024x720 it may not be supported or easily available from the OS.
    – Chealion
    Sep 5, 2010 at 22:23
  • Are you sure the TV isn't 1366x768 or 1280x720? 1024x720 is almost 4:3.
    – Chealion
    Sep 5, 2010 at 22:24
  • @Chealion I understand the 'p' refers to progressive and 'i' interlaced, these terms are irrelivent when it comes to outputting from a computer. The TV resolution is probably full 1080p though as its so large, so you will probably want to try outputting 1920 x 1080 resolution. As you pointed out also, 1024 x 720 is pretty much a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is not widescreen (16:9). If you've been sending this resolution to your TV, that is why it looks stretched. Your TV is stretching it out to fill the screen.
    – Connor W
    Sep 6, 2010 at 6:10

2 Answers 2


You need to find out the resolution of your TV. Just like computer monitors have a maximum resolution, so do TVs. You can probably find this out on the manufacturers website, it will be listed something like 'Screen Resolution'. Alternatively if you post the model of your TV here I will take a look for you.

Once you have found this resolution, all you need to do is select it from the Display settings as shown in the post by Chris_O. Now you computer is outputting the native resolution to the TV so it should fill the screen without any stretching or black bars.

Also, I would reccomend using a HDMI cable to hook up a computer to the TV (you may need a DVI to HDMI adaptor). It makes it much easier to set up as it is a digital signal that the TV recognises and adjusts to accordingly.

Finally, you may have to tweak the overscan settings on your TV. Overscan is where the TV zooms the picture in slightly so the edges of the picture fall off what can be shown by the TV. You may need to zoom it back out again so that the whole picture is shown, right up to the edge.

Hope that helps, shout if you are having trouble.


You can change the resolution settings when connected to the tv

To adjust the resolution Open System Preferences and click Displays.

To change the resolution, select a new resolution. Pick the one that looks best on the tv and also you should be able to change your tv resolution to overscan to compensate if the video display doesn't fill the whole screen.

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Most 720P HDTV's resolution will be 1024 x 768 so that is what resolution you should select first.

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