Office apps appear the wrong size or blurry on external monitors

Last Reviewed: 10/12/2018

Earlier in 2017, Microsoft released fixes related to address PowerPoint and Skype for Business being the wrong size. See the Help article PowerPoint and Skype for Business appear the wrong size on external monitors for information about those fixes.

However, you may still experience blurry text in Office applications when you have more than one monitor and the external monitor has a different screen resolution than the primary monitor.

Microsoft is aware of the problem and is actively working on improving multi-monitor support in Office for Office 365 subscribers, and Office 2016 Click-to-Run installations. These improvements require Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1607) or higher.

Availability of Office updates with enhanced multi-monitor support

Office application

Availability

Office version required*

Word

Improvements already released

Version 1803. Released on March 27, 2018

Excel

Improvements already released

Version 1806. Released on June 25, 2018 

PowerPoint

Improvements already released

Version 1803. Released on March 27, 2018

Outlook

Improvements released to Monthly channel and Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)

Version 1808. Released on September 5, 2018

Skype for Business

Improvements already released

Version 1804. Released April 25, 2018

Teams

Improvements already released

Released March 14, 2018

Visio

Preview available to all Office Insiders

Version 1712. Released January 17, 2018

* These improvements require Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1607) or higher. 

To see these improvements as soon as they are available, become an Office Insider. Insiders are Office 365 subscribers who get an early look at the new features each month and help the Office team evaluate them.

Workarounds

If you are using an Office application where the improvements are not yet available, these workarounds may help you:

  • Upgrade to the latest Windows version :   Windows version 1803 introduced a new feature that can fix blurry apps on your primary monitor (you will need to restart the app after connecting or disconnecting a monitor). See Fix apps that appear blurry in Windows 10 for more details on how to enable this feature. For information about updating Windows 10, see Update Windows 10.

  • Sign out of Windows:   If applications look blurry after connecting or disconnecting a monitor, docking or undocking your laptop, or changing your display scaling settings, signing out of Windows can fix this. Applications on your primary monitor should look crisp after logging back in.

  • Adjust display settings:   Open your display settings (Start Menu > Settings > System). Then look for "Change the size of text, apps, and other items" and adjust it for each monitor so that all monitors use the same setting. You may want to try a few settings to see what looks best to you. For example, if the recommended scale for your primary monitor is 150% and the recommended scale for your secondary monitor is 100%, try setting both of them to 125%. You will need to sign out then sign back in to get best results.

  • Switch Office into Optimize for compatibility mode. Go to File > Options > General and in the User Interface Options section look for the When using multiple displays options. For more information see: Office support for high definition displays.

Upcoming improvements

Here are three terms that characterize how an application adapts to display resolutions on different screens:

Term

Description

Scaling unaware

The app can only scale itself on a low-resolution screen.

System-aware

When an application is opened, the app scales itself based on the display resolution of the primary screen. If there are additional screens (that have different resolutions) connected to the system, Windows stretches the display of the app to fit those screens.

Per-monitor–aware

The application dynamically scales itself to the display resolution of each connected screen.

Microsoft is working to make the Office applications per-monitor aware, so that text in those applications is crisp regardless of the monitor resolution. Due to the pervasiveness of the changes involved, Office will only be able to distribute the per-monitor-aware improvements to Office 365 subscribers and Office 2016 Click-to-Run installations. Office 2016 MSI installations are not able to receive these improvements.

To see these improvements as soon as they are available, become an Office Insider. Insiders are Office 365 subscribers who get an early look at the new features each month and help the Office team evaluate them.

See also

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