Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Why does my screen resolution change when I run this program?


I’m running Windows XP on a Dell Inspiron 6000. Firefox is my browser. Every
time I turn Foxfire on, my screen resolution drops from 32 bit to 8 bit.

If I leave Foxfire on and reset the resolution to the original 32 bit, it
stays there unless I turn FF off and then on again when the problem reasserts
itself again.

Any idea why, or what to do to prevent it?

Well, I know how to do it on purpose, but having happen by accident is a new
one to me.

Let’s look at how it’s done on purpose, and see if undoing that helps

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Windows provides this functionality for compatibility purposes. It’s not
used often, but some old, or perhaps poorly written programs simply can’t
handle rich color depth.

“Windows provides this functionality for compatibility

Right click on the shortcut you’re using to start Firefox (or whatever
program you’re interested in), and click on Properties. In the
resulting dialog box click on the Compatibility tab, and you
should see something much like this:

Compatibility tab on Properties dialog

As you can see, there are several options that you can select relating to
the environment that this particular program would be run under when it’s
started. One of which is “Run in 256 colors”.

I’m guessing that’s selected, either for the shortcut you use to start
Firefox, or for Firefox itself. Double check both, make sure that option is not
selected, and see if that doesn’t help.

If it was selected, the question is why? As you can see, the
setting is fairly well buried. I’m not certain how it could get set

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

13 comments on “Why does my screen resolution change when I run this program?”

  1. To me the original questions seems confused between Firefox and Foxfire. Nevertheless I would agree that the most likley explanation is something to do with Windows compatibility settings.

  2. huzzah! I’ve avoided using Mozilla for the past tear because of this issue. But you just resolved it for me! Now I can browse in the tranquil peace that is firefox. Thanks again!

  3. Hello Sir,

    i m purchased new computer, it has some problem an installing display driver, means when trying to set screen resolution 1400 by 900 pixels , but when he restart the machine, resolution is changing automatically to 800 by 600. & Other resolution. & i all ready update Latest driver but problem is running now..
    So please help him or send link for website link & give the detail of How to install the driver.

    Mother Bord : – DG31 PR
    Processor :- C2D 2.88
    Monitor :- LG Flatron w1942s

    Thanks & Regards

    Bimal Patel

  4. I also have a dell 6000 with the same problem. Nothing was checked and thus this solution did not work for me. I believe the issue is a driver compatibility problem with the ATI Mobility Radeon X300. Looks like they no longer provide driver updates.

  5. Information on the site is gud,but it would be better if more information is provided on screen resolution not only with the perticular s/w,but also with the various appilcations and also why does this happen..! :) thank u

  6. I am having the problem of my screen resolution changing when I begin typing an e-mail in Outlook and also when attempting to use MS Word. I can change it back and it will work until I shut down and start up again. Mitchel

  7. I have tried the compatiblity exercise and it only says : Compatibility mode cannot be set on this program because it’s part of Windows XP.

    What do I have to do to get my resolution right, now?

  8. when ever I re-boot my display moves from 32 bit to 8 bit, and I have to re-set it.I have never got a usable answer.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.