I have a 19" monitor with a native resolution of 1600x900. This provides crisp clear text, but it is too small. My vision is not as good as it once was. In order to see easily I have reduced the resolution to 1280x720 and have chosen LARGE fonts. The text is larger but not as clear and it makes me scroll my screen horizontally because it doesn't "fit" the screen

If I graduated to a 23" monitor with a native resolution of 1920x1080 with a normal font would that fix my woes? How would the text size on my 19" 1280x720 LARGE font compare to the text size on a 23" 1920x1080 with regular font? .

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    If your problem is simply presbyopia, then either good, non-distorting reading glasses or a similar change to whatever other vision correction you're using (e.g. bifocals or monovision) can help. – Mark Plotnick Nov 29 '14 at 11:55
  • Computer glasses can make a huge difference relative to multi-focal or progressive lenses. Your entire field of view is accurately corrected to the screen's distance. I use them now and it makes a world of difference. – fixer1234 Nov 29 '14 at 19:32
  • Regarding the it makes me scroll my screen horizontally because it doesn't "fit" the screen part: at least when it comes to websites, you can use "zoom text only" option in Firefox. It will likely crash the layout of the page a bit, but it will only increase font size (CTRL++) without making the page wider. This is an indispensable feature for me, and Firefox is the only browser supporting it. Layout is a non-issue in 95% of the cases when you focus on reading the text. – jakub.g Dec 9 '14 at 15:42

Some quick background
Pixels are the smallest physical "dots" that are lit up on the monitor to display an image. They are the building blocks and define all of the tradeoffs. The monitor is manufactured with a specific arrangement of pixels, which is its "native" resolution.

Characters are drawn on the screen by defining which pixels are illuminated within an imaginary grid. The number of pixels in the grid determines the size of the font on that monitor.

Normal Size
Let's start with screen fonts at their normal size and the computer configured to use the monitor's native resolution, and compare how the same font will look on two different size monitors. On each monitor, the actual size of the font on the screen will be determined by the physical size of the screen's pixels.

The density or closeness of the pixels at which the screen is manufactured is measured in pixels per inch. That determines the physical size of each pixel. A 19" monitor with a native resolution of 1600x900 pixels, and a 23" monitor with a native resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, both have roughly 96 pixels per inch. So, if these two screens were compared side-by-side, the font would be the same size on both displays.

If you want to select a larger font or set the computer to magnify the font, either option reduces how much will fit on the screen. The larger screen will give you more screen real estate (more pixels to work with). So, the larger, higher resolution monitor will allow you to display more of the enlarged content on the screen, offsetting the content loss from enlargement.

If you set the computer to a lower resolution and magnify it to fill the screen, it maps the content of the smaller image onto the larger space and interpolates to determine what each physical pixel displays. Mapping a 1280x720 resolution onto a 1600x900 display is equivalent to a magnification of 125%. If you wanted that same magnification on a 1920x1080 display, you would select a resolution of 1536x864 (or whatever was the closest standard resolution available), to map full screen. That figure is nearly the same as the native resolution of your current monitor. If you selected a slightly higher resolution, you would get a slightly lower magnification.

So with the larger monitor, you could come close to displaying the content of your current monitor's native resolution at the magnification you like.

Hstoerr raises a good point in his comment. The question talks about crisp, clear text at the monitor's native resolution. Displaying content at the content's native resolution will be sharp. Using any form of magnification, or mapping lower resolution onto a higher-resolution screen, will lose that sharpness. The process of interpolating and averaging pixels degrades edges and fine detail. The sharpest results will be obtained by using larger native content (for example, large fonts and icons displayed without magnification).

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    The measure of pixel size is the pixels per inch. I'm not sure what you're trying to say by this. Pixels per inch is a measurement of pixel density. Fonts sizes are measured in pixels per inch. Is that what you mean? – I say Reinstate Monica Nov 28 '14 at 22:51
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    @Twisty - a little over-simplification on my part. Pixels per inch is density. The reciprocal (inches per pixel), is pixel size. My meaning was that pixel size is determined by (the inverse of) pixel density. I'll edit that. – fixer1234 Nov 28 '14 at 23:29
  • To set the computer to a lower resolution does reduce the quality of the image since sometimes a pixel is mapped to one and sometimes to two screen pixels. So it is probably a better idea to change the font sizes and display scaling technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ff629368.aspx . Note however that some badly written programs have trouble with that. – Hans-Peter Störr Dec 6 '14 at 9:13

Don't reduce the screen resolution, merely change the font sizes. For an LCD monitor, it has a native resolution which matches the dots on the screen. Any other resolution will be less crisp. I agree on computer glasses. I've got reading glasses, and another set where I asked my optician to set the focus at the distance where my screen is when I'm sitting at it. Much better.

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Another solution With a different approach is to simply the screen content by removing distractions and adjusting fonts is to use a program such as Readability:


It is free takes a minute or two to install and require only a click. Available for browsers other than Firefox.

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I am an oldtimer myself(74), and what I do on a win pc: Hold down Ctrl, and rotate the mouse wheel forward or backward to enlarge/reduce whatever is on screen. Just an idea, robertg

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  • This is not really an answer as it does not work everywhere in windows. – DavidPostill Dec 5 '14 at 18:26

NoSquint is a very useful Firefox add-on that allows you to customize, per-site, both font size and page layout (width). You'll soon have all the sites you frequently visit tweaked to delight your eyeballs.

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  • This is not an answer to the original question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. – DavidPostill Dec 5 '14 at 18:17

I was having the same problem with a 15.6" laptop with a resolution of 1900 x 1080. And I agree, as our eyes wear out, shall we say, we tend to need bigger letters. i.e. bigger type face. Whilst every monitor allows the size to be increased by 125/150% this reduces the number of windows you can have on the screen. Nothing magic about that.

I have hankered after a large IMac for several years and it was only a month ago I bought a 27" model, not the Retina.This is has a resolution of 2560 x 1440. This has solved my problem and might solve yours. Lots more on the screen and so easy to read.

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