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Today many modern displays are what we call "High DPI" displays—which means they're capable of very high screen resolutions. However, there are still a lot of older, low DPI, monitors still in use. Normally this doesn't cause any issues, but if you have a multi-monitor setup (such as a high DPI laptop connecting to a low-DPI external monitor via a docking station) you may see some awkward display issues when you move Office apps back and forth between the displays.

To address these issues, we introduced a feature in Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows that dynamically scales the application window to adjust for when you move Office apps back and forth between high and low DPI monitors. This feature is on, by default, in Office 2016 and Office 2019 on Windows 10.

Note: The improvements in this update are available to Microsoft 365 subscribers, as well as Office 2016 and Office 2019 Click-to-Run installations. If you'd like to be among the first to access new improvements as they become available, join the Office Insider program. Additionally this feature requires Windows 10 Anniversary Update (1607).


Display issues with add-ins

In a few unusual cases, you may see odd display behavior with certain third-party add-ins like COM add-ins. You may also run into problems if you open documents that have embedded controls (for example, macros, buttons, or ActiveX controls). In those cases, you may see some of the following issues:

  • The add-in draws in the wrong location or draws at an incorrect size.

  • UI elements in the add-in, such as buttons and labels, appear in the wrong location.

  • Images in the add-in appear too small, too large, or appear in the wrong location.

Use Office compatibility mode

You can improve drawing problems with add-ins by changing the display setting to compatibility mode:

  1. Select the File tab, then select Options.

  2. On the General tab, under User interface options, select one of the following:



    Optimize for best appearance

    This is the recommended mode for most users, and it is the default. Office applications will be crisp as they move between monitors, but older add-ins and external code may have rendering problems.

    Optimize for compatibility

    If you're experiencing display issues, use this mode to disable dynamic scaling for the current application. When dynamic scaling is disabled and the app is on a secondary display, text in the entire app may be blurry.

  3. Select OK, then restart the application for the change to take effect.

Note that this action configures display settings just for this one app on this computer.

Note: The status bar will show a “Display Settings” indicator that appears whenever Office is running on a multiple monitor system using different DPI settings. You can click the display settings indicator to change between modes. When you switch modes, you’ll need to restart the app to apply the change.

Windows April 2018 (1803) update

The Windows April 2018 (1803) update introduced a feature that allows applications to run different parts of the UI in different DPI support modes. This enables Office to run add-ins in a more compatible mode by using bitmap stretching. The stretching may make them slightly blurry, but they will draw at the correct size and locations and be more usable.

You may be able to fix dynamic scaling problems with add-ins by upgrading to Windows April 2018 (1803) update or later. To download the latest update, see Get the Windows 10 October Update

See also

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This article was last updated by Ben on August 11th, 2023 as a result of your comments. If you found it helpful, and especially if you didn't, please use the feedback controls below to let us know how we can make it better.

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