I got a new laptop with Windows 10 and it has an amazing display on it. The new screen is 15.6″ with 3840×2160 pixels. Otherwise known as a 4K screen. To be exact it is the Dell XPS 15. All those glorious pixels come with a downside. Not all software knows how to scale itself.
If I had a 40″ screen, no scaling would be necessary. But all those pixels in a smaller screen is unreadable. Windows does have functionality to scale all software by a set amount as you can see in the dialog box below. This dialog is from Windows 10, but similar settings are found in Windows 7 and 8/8.1.
My laptop defaulted to 250% and I changed the slider to 200% as this was a better answer for my needs. You can set the slider to whatever percentage works best for you.
Some software uses this setting to automatically modify its interface and some doesn’t. Most of my loyal readers know that I’m a very heavy CorelDRAW user. So in the CorelDRAW World, CorelDRAW X7 does modify its interface and earlier versions do not. I found the solution to this problem in a blog post from Dan Antonielli who was trying to get Adobe CS6 programs to display correctly. Yes, the Adobe CS6 issues are also a problem for me, but I rarely use those programs so they aren’t as big of a deal to me as getting CorelDRAW X6 working.
Without the fix, this is how CorelDRAW X6 looks on my screen. Note that I’ve resampled the screen to fit the confines of the blog post. But I think you’ll get the idea that menus and icons are so small that it is nearly impossible to use.
Just so you can see that it would look great if the screen was much larger, below is the same screenshot cropped to the size of the resampled version above.
In order to fix the problem, it requires editing the registry. Making a mistake when editing the registry could lead to your system not working. So if you aren’t comfortable doing it, don’t do it! And if you decide to go forward, make sure to back up the registry before editing. With that warning out of the way, the change required is fairly minor and not very difficult.
First, you need to get the RegEdit utility running. On your keyboard, choose the Windows key + R. In the Run dialog box that appears, type “regedit” and click OK.
Once you are in the registry, you’ll have to scroll down to find the appropriate section:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE | SOFTWARE | Microsoft | Windows | CurrentVersion | SideBySide
Click on that section and you’ll see various settings on the right side of the Window. Unless you’ve already done this, you won’t see “PreferExternalManifest”. So right-click in the right side of the Windows and select New | Dword (32 bit) Value as shown in the menu below.
Type the name “PreferExternalManifest” and press Enter. Once it is in the list, right-click on it and select Modify. This will give you the dialog box below.
In this dialog, enter a Value of 1 and select Decimal and then click OK. When done, your registry should look like the sample shown below.
OK, we’re done with the registry so you can exit the Registry Editor. We’ve basically told Windows that any software should look for a “manifest file” when it is run. If you have any software that doesn’t scale correctly, you’ll need to provide that manifest file. It is not needed if the software already scales correctly. Like I said earlier, CorelDRAW X7 does scale correctly. Microsoft Office 2013 (and I assume 2016) also scales correctly for me.
Thankfully, the Dan Antonielli post also provided the necessary file as manifest.txt and this file simply needs to renamed to the same as the EXE of the software that doesn’t scale correctly. So the EXE for CorelDRAW X6 is CorelDRW.exe and you’ll need to rename the text file to CorelDRW.exe.manifest. I’ve actually done that for you. Download a ZIP file containing the raw text file (so you can see what it contains) as well as manifest files for CorelDRAW and Corel PHOTO-PAINT. Just place the manifest files in the exact same folder as the EXE files.
If you have other software that needs to be fixed, rename the text file to match the EXE of that software with a “.manifest” at the end of the name. The next time you run the software, it should scale properly based on your Windows display settings and no reboot should be required.
After I placed the manifest file, here is a resampled shot of my CorelDRAW X6 screen.
And to show you that it may not look as good on a larger screen, below is a cropped version of this same screen shot without being resampled.
I’ve already added manifest files for some software and it has worked on every program I’ve tried. There are more to add and I will be doing that over the next few days. I’m so glad I found this fix and I hope it helps others of you get the most out of your high DPI screens.