SOLVED: Why is everything too big to fit on my screen?

Sometimes a corrupt video driver can make everything appear oversized on your screen, but more often your browser's zoom feature is the culprit.

Does it seem like everything on your screen just got humungous and you have to scroll up and down and sideways just to see everything?  Chances are you inadvertently used the zoom feature of your web browser and your screen is zoomed in so you are now seeing everything larger as a result.

Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome all contain a “zoom” feature that allows you to enlarge or reduce the viewing size of web pages you are browsing.  This feature is particularly handy if you want to read something small but don’t feel like hunting for your reading glasses at the moment.

While the menu structures that get you to the zoom feature may vary, all three of the major web browsers, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome share the same keyboard shortcuts for using the zoom feature.  Here’s a quick summary:

ZOOM IN:  CTRL +

To zoom in, hold down the ctrl key and while holding it in, press the plus key (note that on laptop keyboards you may need to do ctrl/shift/+ if there’s no numeric keypad).

Zooming in makes everything appear bigger on your screen.  You can zoom several times and each successive zoom will make things larger.  Zooming is handy for reading small type, and can also help when trying to make out details in an online image.  Note that not all web pages will zoom. Some (like facebook photo images) will automatically resize to fit the browsable screen area.  When zooming in, expect that you will have to scroll sideways as well as up and down to see the whole web page.

ZOOM OUT:  CTRL -

To zoom out, hold down the ctrl key and while holding it in, press the minus key (note that on laptop keyboards you may need to do ctrl/shift/- if there’s no numeric keypad).

Zooming out makes everything appear smaller on your screen.  You can zoom several times and each successive zoom will make things smaller.  Zooming out is handy if you are looking at an image that’s too big for the viewable area if you want to see the entire image onscreen.

RESET TO NORMAL VIEW:  CTRL 0  (that’s a zero, not the letter o)

To reset your view to normal (100%), hold down the ctrl key and while holding it in, press the zero key.

A few more notes about zooming…

At the top of this article I mentioned that you may have inadvertently used the zoom feature to make everything gigantic and not fit on your screen.  How, you might ask, does one “inadvertently” access the zoom feature? Here are a few common causes:

  • Young children randomly pressing keys may hit the CTRL+ combination
  • small animals, especially cats, that may walk on the keyboard
  • Laptop touchpad controls that access zoom by using two fingers to “pull apart” or “pinch together” much like the zoom feature on your smart phone.

Regarding the need for reading glasses to view small type on web pages, if you find this to be a constant hassle, you may consider resettng your text size to larger than normal.  This will usually make text display larger without necessarily blowing up the entire website.  Text size is accessible from the “view” menu on most browsers.

I have observed that some websites, and particularly web-based games don’t display properly in zoomed-in mode. That is, besides being large, they may also display random characters or image bits called screen artifacts. Usually using CTRL/0 to reset to normal will solve this.

Please note that there are other possible causes for things being too large for your screen including corrupted or missing video driver, but you should try the things mentioned above first before digging into the more technical aspects of your PC.