Change DPI setting in Windows XP as a normal user

In some scenarios it may be desirable to adjust your DPI settings in Windows XP. For example when a specific application requires a DPI setting of 120 to display correctly.

By default, standard users do not have permissions to change the DPI setting. You need to be an administrative user / administrator to adjust.

If you want users to be able to adjust DPI settings, you should change the following permissions:

  • Grant the Everyone group Write and Delete permissions to the %SystemRoot%\Fonts\*.fon files.
  • Grant the Everyone group Write permissions to the %SystemRoot%\System.ini file.
  • Grant the Everyone group all access to the following registry keys:

    1. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Fonts
    2. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes
    3. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontDPI
    4. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\GRE_INITIALIZE
    5. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Hardware Profiles\Current\Software\Fonts

After setting these permissions, normal users are now able to change the DPI setting of their PC.

The settings described above can NOT be set with a Group Policy (GPO) (besides creating a custom GPO yourself).

Instructions to users to change their DPI are as follows:

  1. Right-click the Desktop
  2. Choose Properties
  3. Go to tab Settings
  4. Click Advanced
  5. In the first tab, General, you can change the DPI setting to 120, or you can enter a custom value.

Please note that changing the DPI size may also cause problems in applications. For example, a part of the right side of the application window may fall out of range, so i.e. the OK button may disappear. Therefor, I would advise first to see if changing the Font Size (Display properties, tab “Appearance”) meets your expectations, since changing the Font Size will not likely result in application problems.

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