my computer screen is too small!
February 23, 2008 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Help! My computer screen has shrunk and I can't make it big again!

Calling all geeks and dweebs: help me fix this problem so I can continue using my ancient and hammered computer. Some sort of unexpected shutoff happened, and now my computer screen is 640 x 480 pixels, with about 2" black space on all sides. Also the colours are set at 16 colours. If I click Control Panel > Display > Settings, I'm taken to the place where I'm apparently supposed to be able to fix these things. However the only colour setting offered is 16, and the little 'Screen Area' sliding thingamajig is stuck at the far left and won't move when I try to move it with my cursor. What gives?
It's an IBM Thinkpad 6000 series, running Windows ME.
posted by arcadia to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
On your monitor itself there may be some control options; some physical buttons that you can mess with, or some dials. Try those if they exist.
posted by ZaneJ. at 12:48 PM on February 23, 2008

Sounds like a driver issue to me. If you can manage it, go to Lenovo's website and try to download the video driver for that laptop.
posted by joshrholloway at 12:52 PM on February 23, 2008

Sounds like you lost your video driver and have been left with the simplest possible one. Not a great sign if it happened as the result of a weird shutoff; your computer may be on its last legs.

Still, to resuscitate, right click on My Computer --> Properties --> Hardware --> Device Manager. Then find your video card under Display Adapters. Right click & uninstall the driver.

Try rebooting after this finishes and see if it redetects your video card (you'll know if you're able to go Control Panel > Display > Settings and you have more options).
posted by Malad at 12:55 PM on February 23, 2008

Yeah, you just need to reinstall the drivers. Sounds like the monitor won't scale from the native resoution, and so it's just making the whole picture smaller.
posted by hubris at 12:56 PM on February 23, 2008

Do you still have the original hard drive in that thing? Is your important data backed up somewhere?
posted by box at 12:58 PM on February 23, 2008

It may be that it got confused and is thinking that the video adapter is the generic one capable of only that res. Try to see if you can go into adapter and there is a choice there for a second one that may have been enabled before. You might want to google for the model you have and see tech specs that say what video adapter it has. Then try to find it in adapter section of that settings screen you were looking at. But you might want to think about getting XP or reinstalling ME on that system, I don't think I ever was able to keep ME series of OSes in shape longer than half a year or so without requiring clean reinstall. That whole 95/98/ME line was incredibly unstable.
posted by rainy at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2008

Drivers are here if it helps :).
posted by katrielalex at 1:09 PM on February 23, 2008

(Upon further reflection, my questions don't have much to do with solving your display problem (though they might have something to do with the cause of it--have you run Checkdisk lately?). But a Windows ME install on a ten-year-old laptop hard drive? You're running on borrowed time, my friend.)
posted by box at 1:24 PM on February 23, 2008

Have you restarted since the unexpected shutoff? I think Safe Mode will give you a stripped-down display like that sometimes.

Also, as someone who suffered with WinME for a long time - if you can get your hands on something else, even Windows 98, you'll probably be better off.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:45 PM on February 23, 2008

Response by poster: Malad - BRILLIANT! It worked! Thank you!
Box - Running on borrowed time, but at $300 instead of $3000. : )
posted by arcadia at 1:48 PM on February 23, 2008

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