Goin’ back to Windows: small, fuzzy apps and compatability settings

This is part of a series on moving from desktop Linux back to Windows.

The first post is here. The previous post is here.

In the first post, I mentioned that one of the motivators for moving back to Windows was that I really liked the hardware of the Lenovo Yoga 920.

I bought one of the “4k Ultra HD Touch Screen” models, not because I cared about the 4k but because it was overall better spec’d. I’m not even sure 4k is realistically perceptible, or useful, on a 14″ laptop.

In fact, on Windows 10, it does have a drawback: lots of apps I’ve installed by default show up really small and fuzzy. And some apps, while “right-sized”, had fairly fuzzy text.

One of the first apps I installed (via Chocolatey, see previous post) was Launchy. And after installing it and activating it with alt-space, I got this:

See how small that is in the pic? Crazytown. It should look like this:

I got the same thing for other apps such as Gimp and VS Code.

Fortunately, the fix is straightforward, if annoying since it seems you have to do it on a per-app basis.

The trick is to change the “Compatibility — High DPI Scaling” setting to either “Application” or “System” (a bit more on that later), for each app that suffers from this problem. Here’s how:

  1. Use the win key to open up the Windows search bar.
  2. Type the name of the app in question
  3. When the app pops up, right click and select “Open file location”

  1. Then, select the app, right click, and click “Compatibility”
  2. Check the checkbox beside “Override high DPI…”
  3. Select either “Application” or “System”
  4. Click “OK” and re-launch the app and see if it helps

My experience so far is that:

  • “System” works best most of the time for apps whose UI was really tiny
  • “Application” works for apps whose UI was right-sized — like Firefox — but whose text was fuzzy

Props to this post about fuzzy fonts for leading me to this solution, which fixed more than just fuzzy fonts for me.

Next post: Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

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