Disable DPI-awareness in Visual Studio

Visual Studio is a dots per inch (DPI) aware application, which means the display scales automatically. If an application states that it's not DPI-aware, the operating system scales the application as a bitmap. This behavior is also called DPI virtualization. The application still thinks that it's running at 100% scaling, or 96 dpi.

This article discusses the limitations of Windows Forms Designer on HDPI monitors and how to run Visual Studio as a DPI-unaware process.

Windows Forms Designer on HDPI monitors

The Windows Forms Designer in Visual Studio doesn't have scaling support. This causes display issues when you open some forms in the Windows Forms Designer on high dots per inch (HDPI) monitors. For examples, controls can appear to overlap as shown in the following image:

Windows Forms Designer on HDPI monitor

When you open a form in the Windows Forms Designer in Visual Studio on an HDPI monitor, Visual Studio displays a yellow informational bar at the top of the designer:

Informational bar in Visual Studio to restart in DPI-unaware mode

The message reads Scaling on your main display is set to 200% (192 dpi). This might cause rendering problems in the designer window.

Note

This informational bar was introduced in Visual Studio 2017 version 15.8.

If you aren't working in the designer and don't need to adjust the layout of your form, you can ignore the informational bar and continue working in the code editor or in other types of designers. (You can also disable notifications so that the informational bar doesn't continue to appear.) Only the Windows Forms Designer is affected. If you do need to work in the Windows Forms Designer, the next section helps you resolve the problem.

To resolve the display problem

There are three options to resolve the display problem:

Restart Visual Studio as a DPI-unaware process

You can restart Visual Studio as a DPI-unaware process by selecting the option on the yellow informational bar. This is the preferred way of resolving the problem.

When Visual Studio runs as a DPI-unaware process, the designer layout issues are resolved, but fonts may appear blurry. Visual Studio displays a different yellow informational message when it runs as a DPI-unaware process that says Visual Studio is running as a DPI-unaware process. WPF and XAML designers might not display correctly. The informational bar also provides an option to Restart Visual Studio as a DPI-aware process.

Note

  • If you had undocked tool windows in Visual Studio when you selected the option to restart as a DPI-unaware process, the position of those tool windows may change.
  • If you use the default Visual Basic profile, or if you have the Save new projects when created option deselected in Tools > Options > Projects and Solutions, Visual Studio cannot reopen your project when it restarts as a DPI-unaware process. However, you can open the project by selecting it under File > Recent Projects and Solutions.

It's important to restart Visual Studio as a DPI-aware process when you're finished working in the Windows Forms Designer. When it's running as a DPI-unaware process, fonts can look blurry and you may see issues in other designers such as the XAML Designer. If you close and reopen Visual Studio when it's running in DPI-unaware mode, it becomes DPI-aware again. You can also click the Restart Visual Studio as a DPI-aware process option in the informational bar.

Add a registry entry

You can mark Visual Studio as DPI-unaware by modifying the registry. Open Registry Editor and add an entry to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers subkey:

Entry: Depending on whether you're using Visual Studio 2017 or 2019, use one of these values:

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Community\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe

Note

If you're using the Professional or Enterprise edition of Visual Studio, replace Community with Professional or Enterprise in the entry. Also replace the drive letter as necessary.

Type: REG_SZ

Value: DPIUNAWARE

Note

Visual Studio remains in DPI-unaware mode until you remove the registry entry.

Set your display scaling setting to 100%

To set your display scaling setting to 100% in Windows 10, type display settings in the task bar search box, and then select Change display settings. In the Settings window, set Change the size of text, apps, and other items to 100%.

Setting your display scaling to 100% may be undesirable, because it can make the user interface too small to be usable.

Disable notifications

You can choose not to be notified of DPI scaling issues in Visual Studio. You might want to disable notifications if you aren't working in the designer, for example.

To disable notifications, choose Tools > Options to open the Options dialog. Then, choose Windows Forms Designer > General, and set DPI Scaling Notifications to False.

DPI scaling notifications option in Visual Studio

If you want to later reenable scaling notifications, set the property to True.

Troubleshoot

If the DPI-awareness transition isn't working as expected in Visual Studio, check to see if you have the dpiAwareness value in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\devenv.exe subkey in Registry Editor. Delete the value if it's present.

See also