How to Remove the Black Bars on a Widescreen

by Greg Brian
tv control and tv 16 image by chrisharvey from

Watching a letterboxed movie can vary in screen width depending on the type of TV you have. Analog TV will make the black bars you see at the top and bottom of the screen more prominently visible. On a 16:9 hi-def TV, the problem isn't quite as bad, though, depending on the aspect ratio of the movie, you'll still have black bars. Take a look at these easy steps to make it more tolerable if it annoys you.

Removing Black Bars

Step 1

Check your high-definition TV remote control while you're playing the movie to see if there's an aspect ratio control available. Set it to "Full Screen" mode or something similar. This will enlarge the screen of the movie so it'll fill the whole TV screen. Keep in mind, though, that part of the widescreen movie will be cut off on the sides akin to when widescreen movies once aired on commercial TV. The wider the original aspect ratio, the more will be cut off on the left and right of the movie's screen width.

Step 2

Go through the video options on the DVD you're watching. See if it gives you an option to watch the movie in full screen. The reason you have to go through your remote control or movie menu is because setting your DVD player to play a movie in a 4:3 boxed-shaped format isn't workable. Your player will still play a widescreen movie in widescreen.

Read the features available on your DVD and see if it offers both a full screen version on one side of the DVD or the original widescreen on the other. Every movie released on DVD offers either a stand-alone full screen version or a full screen option on the flip side of a widescreen DVD. Nevertheless, a full screen version will still cut off the left and right side of the screen and take away vital parts of the movie you should be seeing.


  • When watching a movie made before the 1950's widescreen era, you'll experience what's called Windowboxing where the movie screen width is box shaped. This renders black bars on the left and right of your HDTV instead of the top and bottom. The only option to filling the whole screen is using your TV remote to stretch the picture into a 16:9 shape--thus making the movie and all its characters look misshapen. It's up to you.


  • Many movies will fill most of the screen anyway on a 16:9 screen. Only the widest aspect ratio will leave black bars at the top and bottom, though less visible on a hi-def TV than on an old analog TV. It's best to not watch a movie in full screen for the sake of seeing all visuals the director intended. Otherwise, it might change how you feel about the movie.


Photo Credits

  • tv control and tv 16 image by chrisharvey from

About the Author

Greg Brian is a freelance writer who took his diverse writing skills to the Internet in 2007. He currently writes for various prestigious websites. He earned an Associate of Arts degree in business management from Trend Business College in 1993.

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