How to get the most out of a tiny, cluttered laptop screen


A great monitor can do wonders for your productivity, not to mention your posture, but after working from a big screen at home, it’s hard to get things done on a laptop with just 13 inches of space (or less ). If your work is a bit cramped on this small screen, here are some tips to squeeze a few extra pixels out of your screen.

Reduce pixel scaling

Many modern laptops are built into high-resolution panels to make things look sharper, but they don’t actually use all of those pixels out of the box. Instead, the laptop uses scaling, increasing the size of your icons and text for better readability, and using the higher resolution to keep things crisp. Depending on your display, you may be able to recover some of these pixels by turning this scaling feature off (or off).

In Windows, right click on the desktop and head to Display Options. Make sure the correct monitor is selected in the top image (if you have more than one) and scroll down to Scale & Layout. By default, your display can be set to a value of 125% or more. Take it down a notch or down to 100% to use your display’s native resolution. Experiment to find what works best for you. You might even find that you need to click on Advanced Scaling Settings and use a custom scaling value (like 110%) to find a happy medium.

On a Mac, you can reduce the scaling by going to System Preferences> Displays, select Scaling, then choose a setting that provides more space. On a Chromebook, go to Settings> Device> Displays and move the Display size slider until you find something comfortable.

Zoom out in your browser

If you’re using an older or budget-oriented laptop, you might not have a super high-resolution display that allows for a big enough reduction. In this case, you may be able to achieve a similar effect by zooming out in your browser. After all, you’re probably doing a fair amount of work in Chrome anyway.

In most browsers, you can zoom in or out on a web page by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing the + or – buttons. It won’t collapse things like the browser toolbar, but it can help you make that webpage more visible at once, which can be useful if you want to have two windows open side by side. You can even minimize the operating system and make the web browser bigger to get things perfect.

Hide the taskbar and toolbars

Speaking of toolbars, they’ve gotten pretty big over the years – enough that they eat up precious pixels that could be used for things you actually need. So you may be responsible for hiding some toolbars, even temporarily, while you work.

For example, in Chrome, you can hide the bookmarks bar by pressing Ctrl + Shift + B (after which pressing the same shortcut will bring it back). Many office suites, from Microsoft Office to Google Docs, have thick toolbars that you can hide by tapping the arrow icon on the far right. And if your app has a panel that sticks out from the side – again, Google Docs has share buttons pinned to the right – you can often hide those, too. Look for small arrow icons in panels you want to hide, or browse menus like Tools and Window in your given apps to see what you can avoid.

Finally, you can hide the Windows taskbar by right-clicking on the taskbar, choosing Settings, and enabling Auto-hide taskbar in desktop mode. (You can also turn on Use small taskbar buttons to make it smaller a bit.) The same goes for the macOS dock, which you can adjust from System Preferences> Dock, as well as Chrome OS, where you You can right-click on the taskbar and choose Auto-hide shelf to slide it behind your glasses.

Snap your Windows efficiently

If you’re having trouble arranging multiple windows so that you can see them all at once, there are a few shortcuts that can help. Windows, macOS, and Chromebooks all have built-in “window capture” features: just drag a window to the right or left edge of the screen and it will immediately resize to take up exactly half of the display. If you drag to the corners, it will take up a quarter of the screen, so you can arrange four, three or four windows together. (On Windows, you can also press Win + Right Arrow or Win + Left Arrow to snap without using the mouse.)



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