Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Remote Desktop Services – DPI change issue

Hotfix for this issue is available “You cannot change the DPI setting through a Remote Desktop session on a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2“

Article how to create several Themes for users “The DPI adjustment is not available in a Remote Session (RDP)“


Background information:

  1. Windows 2008 Terminal Services allows changing displayed font size by modifying DPI value. To increase font size you can log on locally with admin rights and increase DPI till 120 DPI. It is system wide settings in Windows 2008 and is active in full Remote Desktop session as well as in RemoteApp session.
  2. Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Remote Desktop Services DPI value is not systemwide anymore and is ignored in full Remote Desktop session as well as in RemoteApp session.
  3. When using monitors with high resolution (1280 x 1024 and above) users often complain that there is a small font size.
  4. I have searched the Internet and discovered that this issue is known but there is no accepted solution:

5. Microsoft acknowledges that Windows 2008 R2 doesn’t allow DPI (Font Size / Scaling) changes on Remote and this is the issue on Windows Server 2008 R2.

My research for Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Remote Desktop Services:

1. When DPI value is changed in “Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Display” the “[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]” registry key parameters are affected (additional information “Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Registry Reference”:

  • AppliedDPI – current DPI value.
  • CaptionFont, IconFont, MenuFont, MessageFont, SmCaptionFont, StatusFont – binary values representing font name and font size used.
  • c. …

2. With the same “AppliedDPI” value but different resolutions – you can get different font and other values in “[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]”.

3. If “AppliedDPI” value is changed and not equals to the default “96 (decimal)”:

  • It is identified using Sysinternals Process Monitor, that most of „HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics” registry key values are changed by explorer.exe process during user logon when using full RDP Session. “AppliedDPI” value is reverted back to “96 (decimal)” and other settings are changed accordingly.
  • When using RemoteApp mode – there is no explorer.exe and all settings become unchanged but “AppliedDPI” value is ignored.

4. If “AppliedDPI” value leaved unchanged and equals to the default “96 (decimal)”, than it is possible to change other values under „HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics” and those values will not be modified by explorer.exe process.

I would like to recommend the following procedure to mitigate font size issue for applications that use Windows font settings.

  1. Log on to Windows 2008 R2 SP1 server using local console.
  2. Change display resolution to be identical that is used by your users widely.
  3. Logoff / logon.
  4. Change DPI value using “Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Display”.
  5. Logoff / logon.
  6. To distribute settings using exported registry file:
  • Export “[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]” registry key.
  • Edit exported registry key and delete “AppliedDPI=…” string.
  • Distribute the *.reg file to users using your favorite method (log on script for example).

7. To distribute setting using Group Policy preferences:

  • On the same Windows 2008 R2 SP1 server lunch “Group Policy Management”.
  • Create GPO and go to “User Configuration – Preferences – Windows Settings – Registry”. Lunch “Registry Wizard” and import all “[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]” parameters from “Local Computer” excluding “(Default)” and “AppliedDPI”. For each imported parameter enable “Run in logged-on user’s security context (user policy option)”
  • Edit GPO “Security Filtering” if needed.
  • Distribute GPO to users.

Some applications (for example 1C:Enterprise 8 accounting application) do not use Windows font settings but have embedded font configuration (size for example). For those applications the above recommendations do not help. I would like to advise to do one of the following:

  • Replace monitor to lower resolution.
  • Execute application locally on workstation and increase DPI value.
  1. #1 by spottedmahn on June 10, 2011 - 01:39

    Thanks for sharing… I sure hope MSFT addresses this issue.

    Interesting event happened to me today… I went into the office, logged into my machine, Win 7 Ultimate machine with DPI set to 125%, and upon arriving back home and remoting into it I’ve got DPI of 125% over RDP!

    I guess staring the session locally with DPI and not ending it allowed me to continue my previous session with DPI from home.


  2. #2 by maaraplus on June 27, 2011 - 15:35

    Well, I seem to have discovered a method how to mitigate the DPI issue in Windows XP remote desktop connection from computer with higher resolution screen to lower resolution screen:
    You are not allowed to change the DPI by desktop properties menus. So you have to revert to editing the registry through regedit (remotely). You can change the setting of the key
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics\appliedDPI
    which is by default set to 96 DPI. However, if you change it to the desired 120 DPI, next time you log into the remote session, you end up with even smaller display of the fonts and the key re-set to 96. But fortunately this works also in the contrary direction: so you remotely set the appliedDPI key to 78, and next time you log into the remote session -> larger fonts displayed and the key re-set to 96. Volia!

    • #3 by Aleksandrs Frolovs on June 27, 2011 - 17:40

      Dear maaraplus,

      I have noticed this behavior. In this case other settings under \Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics are changed. This does not help with applications that do not use Windows font settings, but have embedded font configuration.


  3. #4 by maaraplus on June 28, 2011 - 12:08

    I agree, application which do not use the windows font setting are not affected, but at least it changes displayed fonts in the remaining applications (although even there some parts may stay small) which in my case include a fair portion of programs: open office suite, Adobe reader, internet browser, even some Czech accounting programme (parts of it), and mainly – the desktop has the correct size and look.

    After some additional googling I came across yet another method of adjustment:
    simply use remotely the Start->Programs->Accessories->Accessiblity->AccessiblityWizard
    and go along the “blind” options. That seem to change look of all programs although it is not fully flexible.

  4. #5 by Frid on July 5, 2011 - 15:23

    FWI I opened that technical support case with Microsoft and escalated the issue about that. Another entreprise is escalading this so we may have a solution soon.

    • #6 by Aleksandrs Frolovs on July 11, 2011 - 17:43

      It would be great if you share your experience.

      • #7 by Frid on September 28, 2011 - 19:53

        They rejected our design change request 😦

      • #8 by Aleksandrs Frolovs on September 30, 2011 - 16:31

        It is not first time they do it unfortunately.
        Possibly Microsoft has some unknown reasons for it.

    • #9 by spottedmahn on October 14, 2011 - 22:09

      ref: #8 by Aleksandrs Frolovs on September 30, 2011 – 16:31

      MSFT probably has a reason behind theie decision but their inability to share with us is very frustrating to me. MD

  5. #10 by Doug Martin on September 8, 2011 - 00:02

    You can go into the properties of the local machine and force the monitor driver from PlugNPlay to “Standard SVGA 1024/768” so that way your remote desktop session will have no knowledge of a higher resolution.
    Thus achieving the result of what you would have on the local workstation. I use this for workstations that have high res monitors and users are locked down via Citrix Lockdown to a published desktop. Seems to do the trick.

  6. #11 by Frid on December 7, 2011 - 15:38

    We escalated the case higher with Microsoft and i’m glad to inform you that the accepted the design change request. They are working on a hotfix that should be released in couple of weeks.

    8 months with them to finally get something.

    • #12 by Aleksandrs Frolovs on December 9, 2011 - 14:02

      Sounds great!
      Please inform us when hotfix will be available.

    • #13 by OptimaNet on March 19, 2012 - 21:23

      Any update on the hotfix availability? I have to imagine that this issue is affecting a lot of companies.

  7. #14 by Thomas on December 9, 2011 - 13:47

    Hope, there will be a solid solution soon…we are running into the same problem…very annoying.

  8. #15 by unyx on December 12, 2011 - 16:01

    Hi all,

    Having the same issue for my citrix users on a w2k8r2, I found a tool from MS on this thread :

    I’ve tested the tool provided by Microsoft to Mark Prigg who kindly share it with us (download links at the end of the thread page2)

    it works like a charm !

    (still thinking that removing such a feature is not the best idea they got…)

    • #16 by Aleksandrs Frolovs on December 14, 2011 - 10:16

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

      But it seems there is the same issue according to tool documentation – “It doesn’t change applications – only Windows fonts”.

      Heave you tested the tool with Windows 2008 R2 (there is only Windows 2008 mentioned in documentation)?

  9. #17 by Trevor on December 27, 2011 - 21:24

    The tool works fine in R2, however yes still the same problem. Most of the complaints I deal with are issues in office. Neither of the solutions seem to address that problem. Hopefully the patch they are putting out will address this as well.

  10. #18 by MikeD on April 24, 2012 - 17:48

    Any update on this? There was talk of a hotfix or patch being worked on. Has anyone found this?

  11. #19 by Jacob on May 18, 2012 - 05:32

    Yes, please keep us updated! I would’ve loved to know this before shelling out 3 grand on a couple of high resolution tablet pcs…

  12. #20 by spottedmahn on June 11, 2012 - 18:22

    I don’t know if any already mention this so forgive if they did.

    If I login to my Windows 7 machine from the physical console with High DPI turned on and then RDP from another computer without logging off I get High DPI over RDP!

  13. #21 by Frid on August 15, 2012 - 16:04

    Me again (see post #11). We finally managed with Microsoft to fix this. The hotfix went public today : . Glad if it helps others.

  14. #22 by Raul on August 20, 2012 - 04:29

    Has anyone made any progress on this? I need to force 120 DPI to ALL users on a published app and have not been able to succedd so far.


  15. #23 by Aleksandrs Frolovs on August 21, 2012 - 09:21

    Thank you for your post and participation in problem resolution. We appreciate this very much.
    Has someone tested the hotfix already?

  16. #24 by Hari MSFT on August 21, 2012 - 13:38

    Install this fix and you will be able to change DPI on remote session

    Tested and working for me.

  17. #25 by Darko cuk on October 3, 2012 - 00:28

    BTW,, looks like MS has removed that hotfix.. I can’t get to it based on that kb number. Does anyone know what hapenned to it? We also need to fix the dpi issue if possible.

  18. #26 by Raoul on October 5, 2012 - 00:01

    Hi, I am having this issue, and the hotfix no longer appears to be available on the MS site. Anybody know where it has gone or if it has been included in a subsequent rollup?

  19. #27 by Raoul on October 5, 2012 - 20:29

    I just received an email from MS after enquiring about this, and they advised that it had been pulled due to a packaging issue and should be re-released in about a week. 🙂 – I wonder if thats in real time, or in Microsoft time? – I guess we shall see!!

    • #28 by Aleksandrs Frolovs on October 5, 2012 - 20:44

      Thank you for information.
      I hope Microsoft uses the same calendar 🙂

  20. #29 by Psyotic on October 25, 2012 - 12:15

    25.10.2012 its back online, needed it for the first time, not testet yet…hope this will work for 😉

  21. #30 by Maria on November 23, 2012 - 14:11

    The hotfix is unavailable again. Does anyone have it?

  22. #31 by Snaker on November 30, 2012 - 10:20

    U can use direct link: 7/Windows Server2008 R2 SP1/sp2/Fix396134/7600/free/451041_intl_x64_zip.exe

    And… It’s really work! =)

  23. #32 by on February 13, 2013 - 00:02

    I personally would like to save this particular blog post, “Windows 2008
    R2 SP1 Remote Desktop Services – DPI change issue | Share IT” on my very own webpage.

    Will you mind if perhaps I actuallydo? Thanks a lot -Skye

  24. #33 by structured settlement annuity providers on August 3, 2013 - 21:29

    Great post.

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