Adjusting the screen brightness in Windows

The lighting conditions in your environment will constantly be changing, so having your screen set to a fixed brightness isn’t ideal. The basic rule to remember is: the brighter the environment, the brighter your screen should be. Optimising the screen brightness protects your eyes and helps you concentrate. And the longer you remain in front of the screen, the more important it is to use the right settings. In the long term, poorly adjusted brightness settings can lead to headaches or vision problems. Read on to find out how to adjust the screen brightness on a Windows PC or laptop.

Brightness settings on laptops

Knowing how to adjust your brightness settings is especially important if you use a laptop, because you probably use it in lots of different places and the lighting conditions may vary considerably. Sitting out in your garden in direct sunlight is completely different from working in a darkened room for example. On Windows laptops, you can configure the brightness settings to any level on a continuous sliding scale. In this step-by-step guide, we show you how to do it.

Step 1: Open your Windows settings

Click on the Windows symbol at the far left of the taskbar and then on the gear icon that appears just above it.

Tip

For quicker access to the settings, you can also use the shortcut [Windows key] + [I].

Step 2: Go into the System settings

The Windows settings are divided into several sections. The screen brightness settings are found in the “System” section.

Step 3: Adjust the brightness

Find and click on the “Display” tab (or “Screen” in some cases). In the right-hand pane, you will see a slider that lets you freely adjust the screen brightness. There’s also an option to turn on Night Light. In night mode, the colours are warmer, which is better if you work in the evenings. You can turn on night mode immediately (without specifying a time of day) by left-clicking on “Night light settings.” Adjust the strength of the night light and then click the “Turn on now” button to confirm the setting.

Tip

To open the System settings without going to the main Windows settings screen, right-click in any empty space on your desktop and select “Display settings” in the menu that opens.

Adjusting the screen brightness in Windows 7 and 8

In older versions of Windows, the paths for accessing the System settings are different. In Windows 7, click on the “Start” menu and then the following options: “Control Panel” > “System and Security” > “Power Options” > “Change when the computer sleeps.” Finally, adjust the slider next to “Adjust screen brightness” to the desired level. In Windows 8, you can access the settings via the Charms bar. Go to “Settings” and then “Screen.” The brightness adjuster is shown as a sun icon.

Turning on the adaptive brightness function

Some laptops come with a built-in light sensor that allows them to automatically adjust the screen brightness when light conditions change. The setting is optional and you can disable it at any time (sometimes it changes the brightness too frequently, which can be annoying). In Windows 10, the relevant options are found in the System settings, as above.

If you’re using Windows7, you’ll need to go into “Control Panel” > “Hardware and Sound” > “Power Options.” Left-click on “Change plan settings” and then on “Change advanced power settings.” The setting for enabling/disabling adaptive brightness is found in the “Display” sub-section. In Windows 8, open the Charms bar and go to “PC settings” > “General.” Here, you’ll be able to modify the automatic brightness settings.

You can configure the Windows night mode to turn on automatically, too. In this case, instead of having the screen brightness automatically adapt to the lighting conditions throughout the day, night mode will be activated at a certain time each day. You can either specify a time period or configure the night light to turn on and off at sunset and sunrise, respectively. Windows bases the sunrise and sunset times on your location settings. If night light mode is enabled, Windows will automatically adapt the screen colours to be warmer at the specified time to protect your eyes.

Adjusting the screen brightness via the Action Centre

The Action Centre is a quick way of accessing various settings, including the screen brightness settings. Follow the steps below to adjust the brightness:

Step 1: Open the Action Centre

Left-click on the speech bubble icon at the far right of the taskbar.

Step 2: Adjust the brightness

Adjust the brightness slider (shown by a sun symbol) to the desired level.

If there is no brightness slider in the Action Centre box, look for a tile labelled “Brighter” or the Sun symbol. Keep clicking on the tile with the left mouse button until the screen is bright enough for your needs.

Adjusting the brightness using shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are often the fastest and simplest way of executing commands. As with many other settings, it’s possible to adjust the screen brightness without opening any menus. In the top row of keys on most laptops there are usually two F-keys with sun symbols on them. The secondary function of these keys allows you to adjust the screen brightness. Simply hold down [Fn] and repeatedly press the appropriate key ([brighter/darker]) until you reach the desired level of brightness.

Tip

There are many other useful Windows shortcuts that can save you time and avoid having to unnecessarily search through menus.

Adjusting the screen brightness on a PC with an external monitor

On computers with external monitors, the brightness is usually adjusted directly on the monitor instead of the operating system. Using the physical buttons on your monitor, you can call up the on-screen display, which allows you to adjust the brightness. The exact position of the buttons and the structure of the on-screen menus depends on the device and manufacturer, but there are usually small symbols on or above the corresponding buttons to guide you. If you’re in any doubt, refer to the user manual for your monitor to find out how to change the screen brightness.


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