How to change screen resolution in Ubuntu

While this is a rare issue, it is also possible that your desktop is stuck on the wrong resolution. This can happen because, for example, a bug in your GPU drivers does not correctly identify your monitor. So if your desktop looks like a thumbnail in the center of your monitor, or if you have to scroll to see everything, you can try setting the resolution manually. Let’s see how you can change the resolution in Ubuntu.

Display settings

Resolution settings can be found in display settings. To access display settings, right click on the desktop and select “Display Settings”.

Change Ubuntu Res Right Click

From there, click on the “Resolution” option and select your monitor’s native resolution.

Change the display settings of Ubuntu ResChange the display settings of Ubuntu Res
Edit the Ubuntu Resolutions drop-down listEdit the Ubuntu Resolutions drop-down list

Use XRandR

You can also set your resolution via the xrandr command, which is included in most modern Linux distributions. Try to type xrandr in your preferred terminal, hit enter, and a bunch of information about your monitor and its resolutions will appear. The active resolution will have an asterisk next to it.

Change Ubuntu Res XrandrChange Ubuntu Res Xrandr

Note the alias of your monitor in the information appearing directly after the command but before the list of resolutions. In our case, since we used VMware to capture the screenshots for our article, it was “Virtual1”.

To choose a different resolution, you can tell xrandr which monitor to target and which resolution to apply:

You can choose one of the supported resolutions, even if it is not native to your monitor. Our order looked like:

Change Ubuntu Res Xrandr Set ResChange Ubuntu Res Xrandr Set Res

If the correct resolution was not found, or you want to use a custom one for some reason, xrandr can help you as well. However, you should not deviate from VESA standards and cvt is here to lend a hand.

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Also available by default in most distributions, cvt can calculate VESA coordinate video sync modes. Its use is simple: type cvt followed by the desired horizontal then vertical resolution. To calculate the parameters of a non-standard resolution of 1500 × 900, we entered:

Change Ubuntu Res Cvt Add ResChange Ubuntu Res Cvt Add Res

Select and copy everything to the clipboard, from “Modeline” to the end.

Edit Ubuntu Res Cvt Copy InformationEdit Ubuntu Res Cvt Copy Information

Then use it to create a new resolution from scratch with xrandr:

Note that “1504x900_60.00” in our case referred to the desired resolution and refresh rate of our (virtual) monitor, but was a name automatically generated by cvt. You are free to change it to whatever you want for the convenience. We used:

Edit Ubuntu Res Xrandr Cvt informationEdit Ubuntu Res Xrandr Cvt information

That’s not all as you also need to add the new optional mode to the specific monitor. You can do this with:

So, following everything we’ve seen so far, our command looks like:

Change how Ubuntu Res Xrandr is addedChange how Ubuntu Res Xrandr is added

After that, our new revolution is now selectable in display settings.

Change Ubuntu Res New Res in PulldownChange Ubuntu Res New Res in Pulldown

If your desktop insists on getting stuck on the wrong resolution, it may be time to upgrade your GPU drivers.

Finally, if your problem is that the text on the screen becomes very small on a high resolution monitor, you probably need to do fractional scaling instead of changing the resolution.

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