In short: How do I increase the DPI of some (not all) of our customers connected to our RDP server?

We are running a W2K3 Terminal Server that our clients connect to to run our application.

One of our clients complains that all fonts / icons etc are too small. This user has a high DPI monitor. The DPI of the client OS (XP in this case) is not transferred to the server.

To make things worse (or more interesting) the Display properties dialog disables the Advanced button that you can use to change the DPI on normal clients.

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First of I really did not do much work here, I just found the following post and tested it. Everything works great.


You will find that through trial and error this guy made 3 .reg files that can be installed during a users session. One will give 96dpi, one gives 120dpi, and one gives 144dpi. As I said I ran it with admins and limited users and both worked just fine. The users will have to log off for the changes to take affect, but they will not effect anyone else, just that user. The zip file that contains the 3 .reg files is found at this link.



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  • Tried these before. The files set the Windows fonts (title, menu) to large. All other fonts are not affected. I am very sorry, but this is not changing the DPI, just the fonts that are controlled on the "Appearance/Advanced" button. The DPI is behind the "Settings/Advanced" button. – GvS Jun 9 '09 at 20:48
  • Problem here is, the end-user is complaining about the small fonts in a specific application. When run locally, the fonts in this app scale. The fonts in the app do not look at the windows fonts, but scale well when you change the DPI (on the local desktop). To solve this temporary, I have given the user a second monitor, with a lower DPI. He runs the RDP session on this screen. This is not something I can do for all users however. – GvS Jun 10 '09 at 7:29
  • ah I see, and yeah a second monitor for everyone (while making the IT department really popluar) would be very expensive. I will look elsewhere with one other idea I have and let you know. – Matt Jun 10 '09 at 14:48
  • I cannot seem to find anything, sorry. Maybe put up a bounty and see if it gets more people intrested. – Matt Jun 10 '09 at 20:25

This works fine for me (hidpi client to lodpi server) with not configuration on the server: Remote Desktop Connection Manager (by MS)

(tested on win 8.1 with 200% dpi)

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Windows simply doesn't have a concept of high DPI monitors.

I've had an IBM T221 9.2 megapixel LCD for the past 6 years and I gave up on running it in 9.2MP mode as everything is just too damn small. It's a 204 DPI monitor and luckily enough support pixel doubling so I just run it in 1920 x 1200 (102 DPI) mode 99% of the time. Apple are working on some resolution independence features in Snow Leopard but I haven't seen anything from Microsoft to respond to this.

Currently I'm running Vista x64 on the T221 and no amount of tweaking the fonts and DPI settings has ever gotten me anything even remotely usable while in 9.2MP mode. Too bad because it's an awesome monitor when jacked up to full res.

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  • 3
    Windows does have the concept of high DPI monitors. The problems is applications do not respect the setting and respond accordingly (yes, even one Microsoft applications). Are you not using "Windows XP style scaling" on your Vista machine, and is desktop composition enabled? Starting with Windows Vista, the desktop compositer can scale applications that do not claim to be high-dpi aware. You can choose to turn the scaling off per-application. – Ian Boyd Oct 30 '09 at 18:01
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    Vista's scaling is OK up to about 150DPI, beyond that it goes to hell. I suspect the upper limit that MS tested it with was a 144DPI LCD as those are relatively plentiful in the high end laptop space. But at 204 DPI it's virtually completely unusable. My definition of "high DPI" is 200+, not <150. I've tried setting it up with XP style scaling on and off and I always end up putting it back to 102 DPI after a few hours. It's just too painful to use. – Ausmith1 Oct 31 '09 at 20:26
  • You can see a sample of what goes wrong at high DPI scales at: istartedsomething.com/20061211/vista-dpi-scaling As you can see this is a completely half-assed feature. – Ausmith1 Oct 31 '09 at 20:28
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    i've seen that link before. i wouldn't say a slightly mis-shapen search icon qualifies the entire feature as completely half-assed. Also, the DPI setting is a system setting: meaning it is up to each application (including those written by Microsoft) to behave accordingly. Don't confuse Windows Explorer not handling 192 dpi perfectly with the operating system's "dpi" feature. The feature is fine. Nearly every 3rd party program has much worse handling of high-dpi than Windows Explorer does. Explorer in Windows 7 is better, Explorer in XP and 2000 was worse. – Ian Boyd Jul 27 '10 at 17:17
  • i would be very interested to see your Vista running at 300dpi (312.5% zoom). When you said pixel-doubling gave you an effective resolution of 1900x1200, that your native resolution is 3800x2400. Windows Vista was designed for x768 resolution, so running at 300dpi will simulate x768 vertical resolution. i'd love to see how that looks - i'm envious of your size. – Ian Boyd Jul 27 '10 at 17:26

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