HDR and WCG color settings in Windows 10

Applies to: Windows 10

With Windows HD Color in Windows 10, you get the most of out your high dynamic range (HDR) TV or PC display. When you connect your HDR10-capable TV or display to a Windows 10 PC that supports HDR and wide color gamut (WCG), you’ll get a brighter, more vibrant, and more detailed picture compared to a standard dynamic range (SDR) display.

The Microsoft Store contains a growing number of HDR apps and games. To find HDR games, visit the Microsoft Store online. To watch HDR movies and videos from online providers, you might need to change a few settings to get set up. To play HDR games and use HDR apps, your PC and display must meet certain hardware requirements. For detailed info, see Display requirements for HDR in Windows 10.

If your PC and display support HDR, turn it on to get started.

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System  > Display .
  2. If you have multiple displays connected to your PC, choose the HDR-capable display under Select and rearrange displays.
  3. Select Windows HD Color settings.
  4. Under Display capabilities, check to make sure it says Yes next to Play HDR games and apps.
  5. Turn on Play HDR games and apps.

    The Play HDR Games and Apps setting

Power options for HDR-capable displays

If you have a laptop with an HDR-capable built-in display, there are additional power-related settings for HDR because these displays use more power than non-HDR displays. If you’re running your laptop on battery, playing HDR content can reduce battery life. Therefore, HDR is turned off by default when running on battery. However, you can change the default power setting if you want.

If HDR is turned on when your laptop is plugged in and then you unplug your laptop, HDR will be turned off to help save battery power. If you plug in your laptop again, HDR will be turned on again automatically.

To play HDR content on a built-in HDR display when running on battery

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System  > Display .
  2. If you have an external display connected to your laptop, choose the laptop display (Display 1) under Select and rearrange displays.
  3. Select Windows HD Color settings.
  4. Under Battery options, clear the Don’t allow HDR games and apps on battery check box.
    If HDR was already turned on when your laptop is plugged in, HDR will now stay on if you unplug it and run on battery power.  

Fixing common problems

Many HDR displays today are designed primarily for watching movies and videos in HDR mode. As a result, you might need to do some things to get the best results when using your HDR display in Windows 10. If you’re buying a new HDR display, we recommend looking for VESA Certified DisplayHDR. These displays are designed and tested for a wide range of things you might do with HDR on a PC—including playing HDR games and using HDR apps.

If you’re having problems displaying HDR content from your PC, here are things you can try to fix them.

Problem Try this
Display or TV isn’t showing HDR
  • Make sure your display or TV has HDR turned on. The way you get to the on-screen menu on your HDR TV or display varies by make and model. Check out the documentation for your display or TV by visiting the manufacturer’s website.
  • Go to Settings  > System  > Display  > Windows HD Color settings, and make sure Play HDR games and apps is turned on.
  • Make sure your Windows 10 PC has the required hardware to display HDR, and find out if your display supports HDR10. Here’s how to do that:
    1. Press the Windows logo key  + R, type dxdiag, and then select OK.
    2. Select Yes at the prompt.
    3. In the DirectX Diagnostic Tool, on the System tab, look in the System Information area.
    4. To save the information to a file, select Save All Information, and then name and save the text file.
    5. Open the text file, and look at the value for Advanced Color. This provides info about your display's HDR configuration and the status of it. Look for these values:
      • AdvancedColorSupported. This indicates that your installed display driver and display support HDR10.
      • AdvancedColorEnabled. This indicates that HDR is currently turned on for your display.
    6. Look at the value for Monitor Capabilities. This provides more detailed info about the display's capabilities.
      • If the value is HDR Supported, that indicates that your display supports HDR10. You might see additional values in parentheses.
        • BT2020RGB or BT2020YCC. One of these color spaces must appear for the display to be considered as an HDR10-capable display.
        • Eotf2084Supported. This value must appear for the display to be considered as an HDR-capable display.
      • If the value is HDR Not Supported, that indicates that the display is missing one or more requirements for HDR10.
Display capabilities says Yes next to Play HDR games and apps, but the Play HDR games and apps toggle can’t be turned on or off.

On HDR-capable laptops, the default power settings will turn off HDR when running on battery power. To have HDR turn on, do one of the following:

  • Plug in your laptop (recommended).
  • Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System  > Display  > Windows HD Color settings. Under Battery options, clear the Don’t allow HDR games and apps on battery check box.
    Note that allowing HDR when running on battery power will reduce battery life.
I connected an HDR-capable monitor or TV to my laptop. However, under Display capabilities, it says No next to Play HDR games and apps and the Play HDR games and apps toggle doesn’t appear.

When you first connect an external display to a laptop, Windows will duplicate your desktop on both displays by default. However, HDR isn’t supported in this configuration. To view HDR content on the external HDR monitor or TV, extend your desktop across both displays:

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System  > Display .
  2. For Multiple monitors, select Extend these displays.
All standard dynamic range (SDR) content and apps appear too bright or too dark on an HDR-capable display.

You might need to adjust the relative brightness of SDR and HDR content for your HDR-capable display. This is because a display interprets an HDR and SDR signal differently, and the results will vary by make and model.

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System  > Display .
  2. If you have multiple displays connected to your PC, select the HDR-capable display under Select and rearrange displays, and then move the Settings app window to the HDR display that you’re adjusting
  3. On the Display settings screen, select Windows HD Color settings.
  4. Under SDR content appearance, drag the slider to get the right balance for brightness between HDR and SDR content.

Notes

  • When you change the SDR content appearance setting for an HDR display, the effect it has on SDR content depends on whether it’s an external or built-in HDR-capable display:
    • On an external HDR display, this setting will change the brightness of SDR content relative to HDR content.
    • On a built-in HDR display, the brightness of SDR content is controlled by a separate brightness setting, or it might be controlled automatically. (For more info, see Change screen brightness in Windows 10.) Since the brightness of SDR content is already set, the SDR content appearance setting will change the brightness of HDR content relative to the brightness of SDR content.
  • For built-in HDR displays, such as on HDR-capable laptops, both the brightness setting and SDR content appearance setting will affect the appearance of HDR content.
    • Brightness setting. When viewing HDR content in a bright area, you might need to increase the brightness setting to see the display. However, this will reduce both the effective dynamic range for HDR content in apps and the overall contrast because the darker pixels will appear brighter. To improve the appearance of HDR content, view HDR content in a darker area and use a fairly low brightness setting. If the brightness is set to a very low level, that will increase the overall contrast between the brightest and darkest parts of the content. However, there will be less details in the darker parts of the content. For example, if you have a scene in a movie that shows a dimly lit room at night, you might see less details in that scene.
    • SDR content appearance setting. For most times, using the default SDR content appearance setting or one close to it should work well. You could set the SDR content appearance setting higher to help improve the overall contrast between the brightest and darkest parts of the content. However, this would reduce the details in the darker parts of the content, such as a scene in a dark room at night.

Some desktop apps appear too dark on an HDR display.

Some SDR apps appear darker on an HDR display compared to other SDR apps shown on the same display. This can happen with apps that don’t work with the SDR content appearance setting. Here are some things to try to fix this:

  • If you have multiple displays set up with both SDR and HDR displays, move the app to the SDR display.
  • If you’re using an external HDR display, move the SDR content appearance slider to a lower setting. This will make the brighter SDR content appear darker, so all the SDR content appears at a similar brightness level. Afterwards, use the on-screen menu on your HDR TV or display to increase the brightness to the level you want.

    Note: If you adjust the SDR content appearance setting but the brightness of SDR content in some apps doesn’t change, try restarting the app.
  • If you’re using a laptop with an HDR-capable built-in display, move the SDR content appearance slider to a lower setting. This will make the app that appears too dark brighter, so all SDR apps have a similar brightness level.

    Note: If you change the SDR content appearance setting but the brightness of some apps doesn’t change, or if the SDR content appears too bright and desaturated, try restarting the app.
Color isn’t displaying correctly (for example, color fringes around vertical strokes when black text appears on a white background)
  • Make sure you have the latest WDDM 2.4 drivers installed. To get the latest drivers, go to Windows Update in Settings, or check your PC manufacturer's website.
  • If you’re using an HDMI connection and your display supports HDR over a DisplayPort connection, use DisplayPort instead to connect your PC and display.
  • If HDMI is your only option, use that, and then do one of the following:

    Reduce the frame rate

    1. Select Settings  > System  > Display  > Advanced display settings, and then select Display adapter properties.
    2. In the display’s Properties box, select the Monitor tab, select 30 Hertz for the Screen refresh rate, and then select OK.

    - OR -

    Reduce the resolution

    1. Select Settings  > System  > Display  > Advanced display settings, and then select Display adapter properties.
    2. On the Adapter tab, select List All Modes.
    3. In List All Modes, select the setting that includes 1920 by 1080, 60 Hertz, then select OK.
On a laptop with an HDR-capable built-in display, colors don’t appear correctly. For example, colors might be under saturated or over saturated.

On HDR-capable laptops, the default power settings will turn off HDR when running on battery power. This can cause undersaturated colors after restarting your PC. To avoid this, plug in your laptop before restarting it, or change the power settings to keep HDR on when running on battery.

To keep HDR on when running on battery power

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System  > Display  > Windows HD Color settings.
  2. Under Battery options, clear the Don’t allow HDR games and apps on battery check box.

On HDR-capable laptops running Windows 10 Version 1809, colors on the built-in display might appear under saturated, over saturated, or incorrectly in other ways. This can happen when you have an external monitor connected to your laptop and your desktop is duplicated on both displays.

This issue has been fixed in an update to Windows (see Microsoft KB 4490481 for details). To download and install the latest updates, go to Settings  > Update & Security  > Windows Update  and select Check for updates.

On HDR-capable devices, colors appear over saturated when night light is turned on.

When night light is turned on, the coloring on your display might have a red tint and content might not be readable on it. This depends on the strength that’s set for night light. Here is how you can work around this problem.

Workaround:

  1. Go to Settings  > System  > Display  > Night light settings.
  2. In Night light settings, do one of the following:
    • If night light is on, drag the Strength slider to the left to reduce the red-tinted coloring on your display.
    • Select Turn off now to turn off night light.

For more info about night light, see Set your display for night time in Windows 10.

Colors do not display correctly on an external HDR-capable display. Many HDR-capable displays support a wider color gamut than sRGB. When Play HDR games and apps is turned on, the HDR display should correctly reproduce the sRGB colors used in desktop apps. However, some HDR-capable displays don’t do this correctly. When shopping for an HDR-capable display, look for displays that are VESA Certified DisplayHDR and read reviews that discuss color accuracy.
When playing HDR video full screen, brightness changes unexpectedly or the bottom of the picture appears black or incorrectly in other ways.

When playing HDR video full screen in Windows 10 version 1809:

  • On a laptop with an HDR-capable built-in display, video brightness might change unexpectedly when playing video full screen. This can also happen other times too, such as when resizing the video window.
  • On an external HDR-capable display, HDR video might not play correctly when the external display is connected to a PC that has a discrete graphics card. For example, the bottom of the display might appear black or incorrectly in other ways.

These issues have been fixed in an update to Windows (see Microsoft KB 4490481 for details). To download and install the latest updates, go to Settings  > Update & Security  > Windows Update  and select Check for updates.

On a laptop with an HDR-capable built-in display, brightness changes unexpectedly when battery saver is turned on.

On an HDR-capable laptop running on Windows 10 version 1809, the brightness level for the built-in display might change unexpectedly when battery saver is turned on. For example, one or more of the following things might occur:

  • When battery saver is turned on, the built-in display might get brighter instead of dimmer.
  • The built-in display brightness level might change when the PC wakes from sleep while running on battery power. This happens if the Turn battery saver on automatically if my battery falls below check box is selected.

Workarounds:

  • If the built-in display becomes brighter when battery saver is turned on, lower the brightness setting manually in Settings  > System  > Display  . After that, the screen should have the correct brightness level again. For more info about how to change the screen brightness, see Change screen brightness in Windows 10.
  • If the brightness level changes unexpectedly when your PC wakes from sleep, turn off battery saver to work around this problem. To change the battery saver setting, go to Settings  > System  > Battery , and then clear the Turn battery saver on automatically if my battery falls below check box.

Note:

On laptops running Windows 10 version 1809, the Lower screen brightness while in battery saver setting in Settings  > System  > Battery doesn’t get applied correctly. As a result, the display brightness changes when battery saver is on. This can occur for laptops that are HDR-capable and ones that are not.

To work around this issue, while battery saver is turned on, change the brightness setting manually in Settings  > System  > Display . For more info about how to change the screen brightness, see Change screen brightness in Windows 10.

On a laptop with an HDR-capable built-in display, brightness changes unexpectedly when power settings are changed to Do nothing when I close the lid.
 

On an HDR-capable laptop running on Windows 10 version 1809, brightness might change unexpectedly if the power setting was changed to Do nothing when I close the lid. When you close the lid and then open it again, the brightness setting will be the same, but the actual screen brightness might be lower.

To find the power setting for When I close the lid

  1. Select the Start  button, type control panel, and then select it in the list of results.
  2. In Control Panel, select Hardware and Sound > Power Options > Choose what closing the lid does.

Workaround:

After opening the lid, change the brightness setting manually in Settings  > System  > Display . After that, the screen should have the correct brightness level again. For more info about how to change the screen brightness, see Change screen brightness in Windows 10.

On a laptop with an HDR-capable built-in display, brightness changes unexpectedly when you switch between battery power and AC power when plugged in, or when battery saver is turned on.

 

On an HDR-capable laptop running on Windows 10 version 1809, the actual brightness of the built-in display and the brightness setting itself might change when you switch between battery power and AC power.

Workaround:

After your laptop switches between battery power and AC power, change the brightness setting manually in Settings  > System  > Display . For more info about how to change the screen brightness, see Change screen brightness in Windows 10.
On a laptop with an HDR-capable built-in display and Play HDR games and apps turned off, the display brightness isn't set correctly after you restart, shut down, or wake your PC from sleep.

On an HDR-capable laptop running on Windows 10 version 1809, brightness isn't set correctly after restarting it with Play HDR games and apps turned off.

You might be able to fix this problem by updating the display driver. Check with your device manufacturer to see if an updated driver is available. To learn how to update drivers, see Update drivers in Windows 10. If that doesn't fix this problem or an updated driver isn't available, you can try the following workaround.

Workaround:

After you restart your PC, change the brightness setting manually in Settings  > System  > Display . Even a small change can restore your display to the expected brightness level. For more info about how to change the screen brightness, see Change screen brightness in Windows 10.

 

 


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