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Help, Windows display setting keeps resetting after startup

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / October 22, 2010 7:38 AM PDT

Help, Windows display setting keeps resetting after startup

On startup of my computer the monitor screen displays normal
sized icons, then enlarges to gigantic icons. After all
programs are started I right click on the screen and click on
properties. Display properties open, then I click on settings
and move the slider to my likings, I click apply and the
desktop reverts to normal size and operates in all areas
normally. The problem is I have to perform this task every
time I restart my computer. It's obvious that the apply/ok
setting in the display properties setting is not sticking. Is
there a fix for this condition? Please HELP. Running Windows
XP. Thanks.

--Submitted by: Mel W.

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Part 1: WINDOWS DISPLAY PROBLEMS --Submitted by: GEO2003


Windows Display keeps resetting after startup --Submitted by: mrskelly

A simple fix... --Submitted by: cpotter--2008

Try this --Submitted by: keckhart

Thank you to all who contributed!

If you have any additional advice or suggestions for for Mel, let's hear it. Click on the reply link below and submit away. Please be as detailed as possible when providing an answer. Thank you!

Message was edited by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) 10/29/2010 4:07PM
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Try This
by keckhart / October 22, 2010 10:55 AM PDT
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by GEO2003 / October 22, 2010 11:27 AM PDT

Hi, Mel,
I would suggest that you check for updated Drivers from your Video Card Manufacturer - If any are available since your are still using XP.

However, if there is non, you can look under support for the manufacturer and I am sure that you would be able to find the right ones (although olders) and re-install them on your computer.

It appears to me from your post, that something is not working correctly with your display drivers.

That is why when you go to display properties, you set the correct settings and the desktop changes to what you like.

But everytime you re-boot - the Video drivers may be corrupted or not register properly on Windows Register and therefore your display returns to the old large icons.

Give it a try and I hope it helps.

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by GEO2003 / October 23, 2010 12:44 PM PDT

The reason why myself and others are recommending you re-install the best or newest drivers for your video card is as follows:

When the correct drivers of your video card get corrupted - for what ever reason, Windows will default to the original that comes with Windows.

This driver may or may not support 32 bit color or the proper resolution for your monitor.
Therefore, while the proper Video driver maybe trying to load, Windows falls back to the Generic driver and possibly causing the display to show you a very low bit color or resolution - Hence the large icons.

When the video drivers for your card are working correctly, the video card will query the monitor bit color and resolution and set it accordingly to the best settings or the ones that you picked.

During this momentary change - is the reason why some monitors or Laptop displays flicker a couple of times, until the Video card Drivers and the Display are syncronized.

But our post is just to give you ideas on what to do, it does not mean that we are correct all the time. However, in that same honesty, I have experience those issues.
I never had a Video card completely fail on me - but as other mentioned, that too is a possibility.


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system resets to default (or we think)
by cboardwoman / October 30, 2010 6:10 AM PDT

what a lot of people are not allowed to know due to inexperience is the pc is protected twice. you think you have fixed the problem but it goes back. this can be fixed by doing a couple of steps. as a warning i would not do this if your not sure of what your doing. so in XP go to start.settings,control panel,system, system restore, turn off monitoring temporarily, fix your issue,total shutdown then restart, check if problem is fixed, then go back and turn monitoring back on. i would consult someone to help you as this also eliminates restore options but as well your problem lies within restore. also for the video files go to for your drivers

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XP Desktop Reset
by barrykooda / October 29, 2010 12:10 PM PDT

I have a similar problem in that, at odd times, not necessarily start up, XP realigns all the desktop icons into two collumns on the left side of the screen and loses the Quick launch toolbar. Unable to find an answer, I finally installed a program that remembers my settings so I can restore them. Sad that the problem was wide spread enough, yet ignored so there had to be a third party application written to correct it.

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2 columns of icons
by sroar / October 31, 2010 10:34 AM PDT
In reply to: XP Desktop Reset

What progra to you utilize to remember you settings. I have been experiencing the same on Win7 - 64 bit.

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The same issue...
by Jara3pop7 / October 29, 2010 12:40 PM PDT

Hi- I tried everything suggested in the post above- but can't find any drivers that work- if I try to update the driver, i get a message, my driver is more recent.
Super large display. I can change stuff, but it never stays- it always goes back to the large icons. A real pain.


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by any1der / October 31, 2010 12:21 AM PDT

From my own experience, the display changes settings whenever I play some games. Some of these game applications do reset the display settings to enable compatibility with the games. Looks like you have no choice but to live with it or stop running applications that cause the reset. I seriously do not think it's a driver corruption problem. I found this occurs most with using older applications/games. Why not do a process of elimination and turn on a game or application you normally use one at a time after restart, then reboot to try identify the app(s) that is causing the issue.

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display problems
by OLLIESNR / October 31, 2010 8:16 PM PDT

agree with kechart and GEO. Both could be the reason. first check the icon setting then the card. I found with nvidia settings it sometimes tend to take over what happens on you desktop but the icon settings in control panel seems to be the best bet

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Windows display setting keep reseting after startup
by carhar74 / October 22, 2010 11:42 AM PDT

I had and still have the same problem and mine happens when I try to play a game that just doesn't like me having Windows XP 64bit. If the game is compatible with 64bit it doesn't change. To solve the problem I delete the game and then I have no problems. But if I install a new game (usually using a one hour play time) and the same thing happens then it gets deleted too.
This could be your problem Mel W.

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A simple fix...
by cpotter--2008 / October 22, 2010 12:46 PM PDT

Forget all the corrupted drivers nonsense - that's not seeing the forest for the trees.
This is a fairly common problem and usually caused by a game installation which requires 16 bit.
Go to your display settings and re-set your display to High Colour (32bit).
If the culprit IS a game, you don't need to uninstall - but you'll need to do this re-set each time you play it.

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Your changing Display
by WAArnold / October 30, 2010 12:23 AM PDT
In reply to: A simple fix...

I agree with cpotter-2008. I have, still do, the same problem. I have found there are activities you do that changes your display settings. One that I have is Roxio CD/DVD Creator and also, as stated, some of the games. Once I noticed this I have no problem.

I use the 1024 screen setting and Roxio likes a much higher resolution as does the games. I am comfortable in saying that is your problem

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Thank You for yor suggestion about the reset
by Marlene228 / October 30, 2010 1:07 AM PDT
In reply to: A simple fix...

I too am having the same problem, Thanks for your advice Hope it works??

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Windows' Display Keeps Resetting
by john.ford1 / October 22, 2010 1:16 PM PDT

Mel you did not let us know exactly what kind of computer you have, is it a laptop or desktop? There are many reasons for which the problem as you describe will occur. First you may have an outdated driver for your video display card as others have already suggested. Second, you could have in the instance of a desktop a video board which is slowly going away. Third, in the instance of a laptop you could also have the problem with the video card slowly going away as well. What I mean about going away is they are slowly dying. Fourth, you may have some bad memory (RAM) which does not let the properties that you keep resetting to stick so as to not have to keep resetting each time you turn your computer on. What I suggest that if you have say 4GB of RAM, take out some until you have 2GB and run your computer once again to see if everything is the same. If not then you have one or more bad memory sticks which will need replacing. Please remember this will go for the video board's on board memory which could cause the same problem. So if you let us know the following perhaps we can address your problem to help you make it go away. First laptop or desktop, Second, separate video card and if so how much video memory on board, and third how old is the computer? Finally do you have lightning problems where you live? I have since lightning stikes affect electronics in very strange ways. I live in Central Florida and we have a serious lightning problem and all of our equipment is well protected to stave off the effects of lightning. So please let us know as I am sure we can make your problem go away. Please let us know whic suggestion fixed your situation. Thanks!

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by psifis / October 22, 2010 1:34 PM PDT

Dear Mel I think you have no administrative rights to save your settings.
Go to your login profile and give it to you, those rights.

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Default level
by Alain Martel1 / October 23, 2010 2:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Rights

Under windows XP, administrative rights is the default rights level.

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re: admin rights
by mcm10 / October 29, 2010 4:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Rights

if he didn't have admin rights, he wouldn't be able to change settings, even temporarily--

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More on Admin rights - this was my problem
by Dennis5900 / October 31, 2010 9:58 PM PDT
In reply to: re: admin rights

I work at a company that has an outside vendor for IT support. None of us have admin rights to our own machines. Every morning (and every time I restart, for whatever reason) I have to reset my screen resolution. I complained about this at length to outside IT firm, and they couldn't figure it out. They told me they fixed the problem more than once, but it always goes back to tiny icons, and I still have to reset every morning.
Resolution: The outside IT firm was gracious enough to "give me" administrator rights for a few days so that I could do some technical software installs and updated of Adobe, Java, etc, without their staff having to do it. For the entire time that I have had Admin rights to my own machine, I have had no troubles with having to reset the screen resolution. It comes up just the way I left it. I am pretty sure that it will revert, though, once the IT firm takes back control of Admin rights on my machine...

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A little more info is needed?
by terryblount / October 22, 2010 1:35 PM PDT

First,has this problem just occured?were you able to set the screen resolution successfully before? does your graphics card support 1024 by 768 pixels.Never try to set it higher than this,or you will get the display "Video mode is not supported"and you will have to restart in safe mode and run system restore to get rid of it.If it worked ok before then it's possible that the registry is corupt and the files are missing.
A clean install of XP would certainly solve this if the graphics card is ok.good luck.

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Monitor resets at each start up
by cpmgrp / October 22, 2010 2:17 PM PDT

RU running dual monitors? If not, ensure the correct dimensions are displayed and select them. Then shut down normally, restart, and see what happens. You may have to select advanced properties and play with the refresh rate.

If a single monitor - same thing, but also make sure the correct setting (usually 1280 X 600) is set to the proper refresh rate (60mhz). This is found by right clicking on the desktop and using the various options that appear. Remember the monitor itself may have different defaults depending on the brand and age. Good luck.

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Changing large size characters.
by ladybirdJ / October 22, 2010 5:23 PM PDT

I had this problem a couple of times also when i had xp. not 100% sure but believe i cured it by going into control panel and changing things from there.. Try it and see. cant be worse off, Good Luck

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Help, Windows Display setting keeps resetting after startup.
by dickldoit / October 22, 2010 8:01 PM PDT

I don't think that your problem is related to the OS but rather your graphics card and/or drivers.

I would suggest that you go into the graphics programme and try resetting the screen resolution.

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windows display problem
by brain_freeze / October 22, 2010 10:25 PM PDT

Had a similar problem with 2nd monitor. went to properties from desktop, made changes required and then chose "restart" to apply. worked a treat.

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Settings, not drivers/hardware
by Alain Martel1 / October 23, 2010 2:56 AM PDT


I just can't beleive that you have a driver isue as to many have suggested. A driver isue just can't change your settings from normal icons to large icons. Period!

Also, a video card isue is likewise out of question, as it also can't force a change in the sizing of your icons.

As keckhart have suggested, check if you have an accessibility setting set.
It may have been set by accident, or a relative who used your computer used it and did not deactivate it, or, if you have kid(s), they may have set it. Maybe a friend made a joke on you...

As for the game isue, I run XP and sometines use some old 16 bits DOS games and NEVER had such an isue. Anyway, if an old game causes any problem, start it in compatibility mode, using windows 95, 256 colours and 1024 by 768 or lower resolution, in protected mode.
In my case, the only game to trash any of my display setting was a modern game. It set my gamma to around 0.5, making everything ridiculously dark. (I just hate any game that sacrifice playability to athmosphere)

@terryblount, what's your problem with resolutions greater than 1024 by 768? I've been normaly using 1600 by 1200 true colour way back when still using windows 95/98, and still do. Currently, ANY card less than 12 years old CAN support at least 1600 by 1200.
Anyway, whenever you set a new resolution, there is a dialog that pop up with a countdown. You need to click the non-default OK button or the settings will revert to the previour ones. Also, you can ckeck "Only show supported video modes". This will hide any video mode that your video card and monitor can't support, and make them unavailable.

I currently use 2 monitors. I can tell you that it's NOT related to the possible use of two monitors.

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display settings
by jhgjhjhjhb / October 23, 2010 8:22 AM PDT

i had the same problem with a dell and windows xp.No game playing or anything.I found that if i shut off the display monitor BEFORE the system completly shut down i had to reset the display settings on the next boot up.I hope thats your case

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Windows Display keeps resetting after startup
by mrskelly / October 24, 2010 9:25 PM PDT

I've had this problem from time to time whenever I've used a projector or dual monitor. If you've used any periferals that change your monitor settings, you may want to check to make sure you've gone back to the default monitor setting when you were finished.

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Not had this problem but....
by JohnJent / October 29, 2010 2:44 PM PDT

As a Systems Administrator and Technical Support person, I always try the simple things first. DON'T automatically go to the extent of a fresh re-install of XP unless it is your last resort. I need to also say that I run an enterprise version of Trend Micro (Worry Free Business Security v6.0) and never visit suspect sites, TM blocks such known sites anyway.
I suggest you go to Display on Control Panel, set all of your settings here, but, before you leave this area, be sure to go back to the Themes Tab and save the Theme with a name totally different to anything else as the XP default names e.g. My Theme. When you open My Documents, you will see the saved theme there. XP looks for such a file on boot up. If this fails to fix your problem, try to work out when you might have installed the last program just before the problem showed up. Perform a System Restore to just before this point. It should solve the issue, hopefully.
The updating of drivers could be part of the problem, not a solution. If you have accidentally updated to a Vista or Windows 7 driver by mistake, it could also be causing grief. Good luck.

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Same problem
by amethystgold / October 25, 2010 12:27 AM PDT

I had the same problem...went in to the settings two ways, through the start menu (right click) and through my computer, then click display and change the settings this way as didn't correct the problem the first three or four times that I did it and then all of a sudden the problem was fixed...strangest thing...I have no idea what caused the problem and I am also running Windows XP. I would be interested in feedback as well. Thanks...Lynda

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Microsofts Default action is always FAIL.
by crsteele / October 29, 2010 12:02 PM PDT

Since the first version of DOS, good ole microsoft could always be counted on to have the worst, least functional Operating system always ready and waiting to fail.

Microsoft default = fail.... somethings never change!

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Help. Windows display stting keeps resetting after startup.
by ee4t / November 1, 2010 12:24 AM PDT

Re Microsoft default action is always FAIL reply. I was wondering how long it would take b4 a MS Basher showed up! I'm sure Mel W found your reply 2B oh sooo helpful. getalife crsteele. XP's (or any other MS OS's) display default is NOT TO LARGE ICONS! Mel, I've been a LAN/WAN system administrator since 1982 and have found this to be a common problem due to an installation of a program that's either not wholly compatible with your hardware/software setup or was incorrectly installed. Unfortunately you don't provide sufficient info for a 100% solution to be offered, e.g., type of PC (laptop-desktop), video card used, programs being loaded at boot, etc. Sincerely doubt it's due to a video card going bad or an obsolete driver or ANY hardware problem. Simplest solution 1st: You need to ID the program causing this. View your display settings immediately after booting when the icons are correctly displayed and note them down; then, from a safe mode, start each program that you normally load after boot ONE AT A TIME to identify WHICH program causes the Large Icon; Screen Resolution; or handicapped/Accessibility option display change. Once you know WHICH program it is, you can fix it by changing the programs incompatible display settings or by uninstalling/re-installing, etc.

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