When you install Ubuntu, it usually configures your graphics card to drive the display at its native resolution with basic settings. While this may work fine in most situations, you can customize Ubuntu's display with different resolutions, proprietary drivers for extra performance, and the capability to use multiple monitors for productivity, gaming or other needs. You can make all of these settings changes from within a simple graphical interface.

Single Display

Step 1

Click the gear-shaped “System Menu” icon, located next to the system clock on the menu bar, and then select “System Settings.”

Step 2

Double-click the “Displays” icon in the Hardware section.

Step 3

Choose your preferred display resolution from the drop-down box. A higher resolution like 1024 by 768 pixels looks clearer and offers more space than a smaller resolution like 800 by 600. However, it makes text and icons smaller and possibly harder to see. Your monitor's native resolution, which you can usually find listed in the owner's manual, is generally the best choice. Wide-screen resolutions are followed by the "16:9" designation, while traditional-width resolutions are denoted by "4:3."

Step 4

Select the rotation of the display, if needed. This setting is used to set the correct orientation for a display that can rotate into the portrait position.

Step 5

Click “Apply,” and then select “Keep This Configuration” in the next window if the changes work correctly. Otherwise, do nothing in order to revert to the previous settings.

Multiple Displays

Step 1

Click the gear-shaped “System Menu” icon on the menu bar, select “System Settings,” and then choose “Displays” to see a graphical representation of your displays.

Step 2

Click the display you would like to adjust, and then enable or disable the display, if desired, using the first toggle switch.

Step 3

Choose the desired resolution and rotation. These should be the same on each monitor.

Step 4

Select which display the Application Launcher will be located on to set that display as the primary one. Optionally, select “All Displays” to have an Application Launcher on each display.

Step 5

Change a display's position, if necessary, by dragging it to the correct position so that the icons are in the same order as the physical displays are.

Step 6

Toggle the Sticky Edges setting to “On” to have the mouse slow down at the edge before transitioning to the next display.

Step 7

Select “Mirror Displays” to have all displays show the same content, rather than stretching the desktop across multiple displays.

Step 8

Click “Apply,” and then select “Keep This Configuration.”

Proprietary Drivers

Step 1

Install proprietary drivers from your graphics card manufacturer by clicking the gear-shaped “System Menu” icon, located next to the system clock on the menu bar, and then selecting “System Settings.”

Step 2

Double-click the “Software and Updates” icon, and then click the “Additional Drivers” tab.

Step 3

Select the newest proprietary or binary driver for your video card, if one is available.

Step 4

Click “Apply,” and then choose “Close.” To reverse the changes, repeat the process, but select the original driver in Step 3.