Fixing PC Games That Start Zoomed In (Or Cropped)

Is there anything more frustrating than opening up your favorite PC game only to have the screen randomly zoom in? What’s causing this problem and how can we get it fixed?

The easiest way to fix a PC game that starts zoomed in is just a hit ALT+Enter which will force the game into a full-screen window. You can also disable Windows Display Scaling in your display settings or in the compatibility tab of your game. If you’re using Steam, you can use launch parameters to configure your games to launch with a borderless full-screen window.

This is a bit of an odd one when it comes to PC bugs, but we’re going to get it solved and figure out what was causing it in the first place.

PC Games are Launching With Some Strange Cropped Images

Rocket League starting zoomed in and cropped on Windows
Rocket League starting zoomed in and cropped on Windows

Here’s the problem. You’ll fire up your favorite game on Steam and it will be zoomed in so tight that you can’t play.

These games typically default to zooming in into the upper right corner. You might see part of your menu, but you’re not going to be seeing any of the action.

This is happening into everything from AAA titles all the way over to experimental indie games. It’s happening to this wide range of games because it’s not actually a problem with the game itself.

Let’s take a quick look at the underline problem that’s causing this weird game zoom.

Why PC Games Start Zoomed In

Your PC games are starting zoomed because of a little-known feature inside of Windows called Windows Display Scaling. Here’s how it all works.

Today’s modern gaming monitor is a little bit more powerful than many programs are designed for. Your monitor simply has a higher resolution and is often physically larger if you’re gaming then if you were just using your PC for work.

This would have the weird effect of making a lot of day-to-day applications look tiny. Word, Excel, and other applications wouldn’t scale properly without a little bit of assistance from Windows:

How an Excel spreadsheet looks on a 4k monitor without some display scaling
How an Excel spreadsheet looks on a 4k monitor without some display scaling

This is where Windows Display Scaling comes in. It intuitively upscales the size of programs on your PC to fit your monitor. This is great for all of the programs on your PC, but it can wreak havoc with games that often have their own display settings.

More often than not, your video games are going to ignore Windows Display Scaling and do their own thing. However, every now and then games default to whatever Windows Display Scaling tells them. This causes your game to be dramatically zoomed in to the point where it’s unplayable.

This weird computer bug might seem like it’s all bad news, but we’ve got five quick solutions that will get you gaming again in no time.

How to Fix a PC Game That Starts Cropped

We’ve already zoomed out and looked at the big picture of what’s causing your games to be cropped, but now let’s zoom in on 5 quick fixes for this settings problem.

1. Change Your Windows Display Scaling Settings

The first thing that you can do is to simply change the Windows Display Scaling settings. This is going to have a broad impact on your entire PC. We recommend only using this option if you’re having a lot of zoom and crop problems with all of your programs and not just a few games.

Here’s how you can quickly and directly change how much Windows Display Scaling affects your games.

  1. Open your Start menu and navigate to your display settings
  2. OR Right click your Desktop and click “Display Settings”
  3. Locate the “Scale and Layout” section
  4. Where it says “Change the size of text, apps and other items”, decrease the percentage to 100%
The scale and layout options within Windows Display settings
The scale and layout options within Windows Display settings

Changing that percentage will decrease or increase the amount of crop and zoom that Windows does on all of your apps and programs. This might also affect your text size, so make small changes here because a little goes a long way.

2. Right Click on the Steam Shortcut or the Game’s .EXE File

The next fix for this problem has us directly changing the display settings for our games. This is going to be the best option if you have one game that’s been causing you a lot of zoom and crop problems.

The first step in this fix is to locate the .exe file for your game. You need to know where Steam or your other game launchers store your game files in order to find your .exe files. By default this is under C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps, but if you install your games on a separate drive, it will be where you chose them instead.

Once you find this, click into “common” and the game(s) you are having issues with, then locate the .exe:

Locating the exe for a certain game on Windows
Locating the exe for a certain game (for example, Rocket League) on Windows

Once you’ve located your launch files, it’s actually really easy to disable this scaling problem.

  1. Right-click on the .exe file for your application
  2. Select Properties
  3. Select the Compatibility tab
  4. Select the “Change High DPI Settings” option, and then tick either the program DPI or override DPI scaling options (you might need to try both).
Various DPI scaling options under Change high DPI Settings menu
Various DPI scaling options under Change high DPI Settings menu

3. Try Pressing ALT+Enter on Windows

Here’s a solution that’s going to take you a single keystroke to solve this problem.

On Windows, pressing ALT+Enter forces whatever app is currently open to its full screen setting. This should override any resume, crop, or window to settings that you have active for your current game.

Pressing ALT and Enter keys on the keyboard
Pressing ALT and Enter keys on the keyboard

Depending on the game you’re playing, this might cause some awkward visual effects. This is often the case with older games that have scaling difficulties on today’s high-resolution screens. However, hitting ALT+Enter should fix any zoom problems for the vast majority of games out there.

4. Check Your Game’s Display Settings

A common source of settings problems for today’s games comes from the game itself. Games now have robust settings menus on their own that can often conflict with the settings we have for our PCs and our graphics cards.

If you tried the fixes we’ve already gone through, your next step is to go into the settings for the game that keeps getting zoomed in. This might be a little tricky as you’ll have to navigate some zoomed in menus, but the problem just might be located in your game settings rather than on your PC.

You need to check the resolution settings for your game. Make sure that the resolution matches the output for your monitor and you should be good to go:

The resolution drop down in Rocket League
The resolution drop down in Rocket League

You can always play it safe and drop the resolution lower than what your monitor offers which should force the game to launch smaller than full screen. This is a great option for handling any persistent problems and you can always make it go full screen later on.

5. Play Your Games in Windowed Mode

Here’s a trick that’s going to save you so much trouble when it comes to gaming.

Playing your games in Windowed Mode means that your game is only going to be taking up part of the real estate on your screen. Now, this could be the vast majority of your screen, but it is going to live behind a window.

This prevents any awkward zoom problems by locking the size of your games window into a given size. This is also going to give you quick access to any other programs and it’s a great option if you’re streaming or you got Discord open while you’re gaming.

We’re going to give you a little trick that gives you the best of window to mode without the window itself. You can go borderless and use Borderless Mode to get all of the mechanical benefits of windowed mode, but without the invisible window itself.

The display mode drop down in Rocket League
The display mode drop down in Rocket League

Essentially, bordered mode gives you a full-screen gaming experience with the added utility of gaming with a window.

You can force any program into Windowed Mode by hitting ALT+Enter. That’s right, our friendly neighborhood ALT+Enter key combo not only does full-screen, but that full-screen is in a window. What more could you want?

Going borderless is a little harder. Here’s how you do it on Steam using Steam’s Launch Parameters feature.

  1. Launch Steam
  2. Locate your game in your library
  3. Right click on the game’s title
  4. Select Properties
  5. Click on “Set Launch Options”
  6. Paste either “-window-mode borderless” or “-popupwindow” into the text box.
  7. Click Ok and close
Adding launch options for a game within Steam
Adding launch options for a game within Steam

Note: Steam’s Launch Parameters feature lets you select some specific settings for how your game launches. We provided two different ways that you can enter borderless mode when you launch a game, but you should check for the specific launch parameters that your game uses.

One of these two should work, but every developer takes a different approach to their games and it might take a little trial and error to find the right launch parameter to go borderless on launch.

cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

6 thoughts on “Fixing PC Games That Start Zoomed In (Or Cropped)”

    • Sorry to hear it – please feel free to reply back with more details of your setup (OS, hardware and game) and I can try and take a further look. Or feel free to email me directly at tristan (at) techoverwrite (dot) com.

  1. Hello, thanks for this article, but how to solve Hydro Thunder Hurricane not scaling properly on Windows 11? I have a 4k 16:9 monitor (Samsung Odyssey G8 Neo) and game doesn’t shows fullscreen, neither in windowed the game scales video output properly, how I could fix it?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hello Lorenzitto,

      Unfortunately there might not be a simple answer here, because Hydro Thunder Hurricane appears to be a fairly old game (first released in 2010, 13 years ago)? It might be the case that it won’t run properly on 4K on Windows 11.

      Worst case you might need to change your resolution to something like 1080p or 1440p and then try launching the game, because this might run better on a 2010-era game.

      I hope I’m wrong and you can find a better solution though.



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