What Does It Mean When Your Monitor Says "Out of Range"?

by Helen White
A woman is sitting in front of a computer monitor.

A woman is sitting in front of a computer monitor.

The computer's video card and monitor work together to produce the display. The video card draws the information, while the monitor displays it. Every monitor has an optimal resolution at which it’s designed to display best. If the video card tries to display at a resolution the monitor can’t handle, you will see an "out of range" message or a blank screen. The “out of range” message means the monitor is incapable of displaying at the given resolution.

Causes

The simplest cause of an “out of range” error is a new video card plugged into an old monitor. Newer video cards can handle resolutions that older monitors can’t support. Incompatible or corrupted drivers also cause monitors to display out of range, especially in Windows. Another likely cause for all operating systems is that the resolution was configured to a setting the monitor couldn’t display.

Windows Solutions

To fix an out-of-range monitor in Windows 8, first reboot the computer into Safe Mode. Hold the "F8" key while the computer is rebooting. If the computer displays properly, select a new screen resolution with the Display Settings app. If the computer is displaying out of range because of a driver issue, reboot the computer while holding "F8." Then, instead of Safe Mode, choose "Last Known Good Configuration." After Windows boots, reinstall the video card drivers. For most video cards, reinstalling the video cards is as simple as running a program. Always read the instructions provided from the manufacturer’s website. If you know a driver works well with your computer, back it up to a safe place.

Mac Solutions

If you changed your Mac’s resolution to something the monitor can’t support, doing absolutely nothing will fix the problem. The computer reverts to the last used resolution after 15 seconds. If that doesn’t work, or the Mac is plugged into a monitor that doesn’t support the resolution, press and hold the "Power" button until the computer turns off, then turn on the computer. After you hear the startup noise, hold down the "Shift" key. After the Mac has booted, choose a new resolution in "Display" under "System Preferences." Finally, reboot the computer normally.

Linux Solutions

In Ubuntu, at a command prompt, delete the "monitors.xml" file in ~/.config and reboot. In other distributions, reconfigure X by typing “Xorg -configure” as root. If you don’t have the documentation that came with the monitor, many manufacturers provide manuals with proper resolutions online.

About the Author

Helen White has been a writer for more than 15 years. Her papers have been presented at conferences in both the United States and Europe and she has written several technical guides for various computer issues. White holds a doctorate in music from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Jack Hollingsworth/Digital Vision/Getty Images