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Windows 7: No Pan and Scan Virtual Desktop in Windows 7

02 Nov 2009   #1

Windows 7 Pro
No Pan and Scan Virtual Desktop in Windows 7

For nearly a decade I've been able to create a pan and scan virtual desktop in Windows XP and Windows 98 using ATI video cards -- but Windows 7 just won't allow it. A pan and scan virtual desktop is a desktop that actually extends beyond your monitor’s screen (or “viewport”) to give you about 4 times more real estate than your monitor’s screen. So when you move your cursor to the edge of the screen, the screen moves to reveal more desktop. This enables you to open, say a document full page and not have to use those darned time-consuming scroll bars. It's an incredible productivity tool -- that ATI will not officially admit exists.

I'm going to describe here how to create the pan and scan virtual desktop in Windows XP (you must have an analog connection to your monitor [an adaptor on a digital video card port will word]-- this will not work with a digital or HDMI connection). (I discuss this online in detail at: Untitled 1 )
After installing the latest ATI Catalyst Control Center (CCC) software and rebooting, check to see if your Display Properties | Settings will let you set your screen resolution to, say, 1600 x 1200. If it doesn’t go that high, go into Display Properties | Settings | Advanced | Monitor and uncheck “Hide modes that this monitor cannot display.” This will allow higher resolutions to appear. If this choice is grayed out, you may be screwed. Change your resolution for both monitors to something like 1600 x 1200 (or 1600 x 1050), but don’t exit out of Display Properties just yet.
Then you open ATI’s Catalyst Control Center. Choose the Advanced mode rather than Basic. Go to the “Monitor Properties 0” and uncheck “Use Extended Display Identification Data (EDID) or driver defaults.” Then change the maximum resolution to 800x600 and the maximum refresh rate to 60 Hz (assuming you use LCD monitors).

Now sometimes this doesn’t quite get you the pan and scan virtual desktop — instead you get a 800x600 desktop. In the immortal words of Yoda, “Panic, not.” Simply go back to your Display Properties windows and change the resolution for each monitor to 1600 x 1200 (or 1600 x 1050). Click “Okay” and you should have a pan and scan virtual desktop on both monitors. You can, of course, change the resolution combinations to fit your personal preferences. Sometimes you have to fool around a bit to a combination that pleases you.
But Windows 7 just will not let you set these two settings differently -- preventing the pan and scan virtual desktop. I've been trying and trying with the release candidate and just can't do it.

I was hoping beyond hope that maybe somebody here might know a workaround. I am at a loss. I am incredibly dependent on the pan and scan virtual desktop -- the inability to get it is the only thing keeping me from upgrading all of our desktops to Windows 7.

While I understand Windows XP pretty well (I've built or upgraded around 50 computers to Windows XP), I'm a novice at Windows 7. Surely that must be some registry edit that could get the pan and scan to work.

Thanks very much for any ideas. :)

Key computer components:
Asus ATI Radeon 4850
Asus M4N72-E mainboard
Samsung T260 monitor

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Nov 2009   #2
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit SP1

Have you tried one of these programs, VirtuaWin or Dexpot? (they're both free)
VirtuaWin - Virtual Desktops for Windows
Dexpot - Das Utility für virtuelle Desktops
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Nov 2009   #3

Windows 7 Pro

Thanks for the suggestions, but this is not what I'm writing about. The software to which you referred is for "virtual desktops," not "pan and scan virtual desktops." They are entirely different beasts. But I do very much appreciate your giving it a go.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 Nov 2009   #4

wxp w2k w95 freeBSD
The Virtual Desktop

The virtual desktop has been realized in windows 95. I mean a true virtual desktop in a proper meaning of the word "virtual", as virtual was used in the past - e.g. virtual memory.

It has the following features which let us call it virtual:
- a desktop size was independent of the current and maximum monitor resolution (provided it was grater)
- a desktop size was independent of the maximum picture size to be generated by the installed graphic card,
- there was possible to change the monitor resolution on the fly with a single keystroke (the desktop size as well, but through the screen properties dialog window, as in each windows)
- there was possible to declare that pop up dialog windows should be opened in the center of the visible desktop part instead of the desktop center,
- the process of panning was endure enough to survive most of application/windows hung-ups.

Since I get acquainted with the VD and recognized its features and usefulness, I simply do not work on systems without the VD. Initially I used it for reading pdf files due to spreading them on greater space make fonts more readable and VD panning always worked much better than window scrolling, and I used it as well for programming in Delphi. Only on big desktop you can see the integrated environment windows and application windows all in front. And even in a case of error and hung-up the VD panning worked.

In windows 98 the VD was forbidden. MS policy was: if one want to have more space he/she has to buy a second monitor. The 98 windows was a two monitor system. I never have heard about VD in w98.

It is possible to have a semiVD in w2k and wxp at least on ati graphic. Semi VD means some limitations. The VD maximum size is limited to the maximum picture size to be generated by the installed graphic card, and there are no windows centering on the visible desktop part or screen resolution change with a single keystroke. The last could be served by dedicated applications.

A semi semi VD is available on other graphics in wxp. Semi semi means further limits, namely, in the VD mode a monitor must work in its maximum resolution. I use such a semisemiVD on my samsung nc10. But I like my desktop, with 1280x1024 CRT monitor more than a yard in front of me, working in 1024x768 since showing extra sharp image, windows working with 2048x1536 size desktop.

If that is true, i.e. no VD in w7, then I newer switch to w7 before the VD in any way becomes available. There is a need to develop the VD driver against MS policy.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Nov 2009   #5

Windows 7 Pro
Glad to hear from you

I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in my frustration with Windows 7.

If I do figure out a way to generate the pan-and-scan virtual desktop (VD) in Windows 7 I will share the solution with you. It's frustrating because I've tried the release candidate of Windows 7 and it is a very nice computing environment (and pretty fast too). But it's failure to allow for a pan-and-scan virtual desktop is the only thing that's keeping me from upgrading.

Until a few months ago I was using the VD on two 20 inch monitors in a dual monitor setup. But after one monitor finally died (and amazingly Samsung is refunding most of my purchase price since it died on within the 3-year warranty and it no longer makes that size monitor), I replaced both monitors with a 24 inch Samsung T260 widescreen monitor. It's maximum resolution is 1920 x 1200. So I set the Windows XP Display Settings at 1920 x 1200 and in ATI's Catalyst Control Center I set the resolution at 1200 x 800 -- and I get a very readable huge virtual desktop. The key is getting a monitor with the 1920 x 1200 resolution -- few widescreen monitors go that high.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Nov 2009   #6

wxp w2k w95 freeBSD

A few years ago before I started using semiVD in w2k I used remote desktop access from a system running w95 with the VD supported by famous ATI RagePro 8MB graphic. It worked pretty well, but running two computers was a bit uncomfortable
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Apr 2010   #7


I stumbled upon this thread because I am also "addicted" to a large virtual screen and searching for a solution for Windows 7.
There is an app, GiMeSpace, that does it in a different way, by moving the windows around. This basically works fine and nearly equivalent to our "classic" virtual screens, but
- the background image is not moved accordingly, so orientation is more difficult.
- the size of the virtual screen is "endless" and can not be limited. As GiMeSpace is in an early version I hope there will be an option to limit the size in an upcoming version.
- because of the concept, windows can hardly be made larger than the desktop size.

It's still unbelievable, that in a world full of virtual features, and with graphic cards that can handle huge amounts of pixel, we are not "allowed" to use a virtual screen; and that the few left options get even more restricted.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 May 2010   #8

windows 7

Try GiMeSpace Desktop Extender. It solves this problem but gives you much more also. No limitations to your desktop size or your window size.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Dec 2010   #9

Windows 7 Pro
GimmeSpace Doesn't Do What I Seek

I finally bit the proverbial bullet and installed Windows 7 in a dual boot. I've purchased GimmeSpace and while it is quite ingenious, it does not do what I need.

The pan-and-scan virtual desktop allowed me to set up the desktop with a resolution of 1280 x 800 on a desktop of 1920 x 1200. That results in programs, menus, task bars, etc. displaying at the larger 1280 x 800 resolution, not the tiny size of the 1920 x 1200 resolution. It also results in a desktop you can control.
The settings in Windows XP with an ATI card are:
Display Properties: 1920 x 1200
ATI CCC Monitor Attributes: 1280 x 800

But Windows 7 does not give you those choices.

So I've been using GimmeSpace Desktop Extender for two weeks and sadly it can't do this. More seriously, the instructions are so sparse that it's hard to control your windows and your desktop. The application windows move around like crazy. Their behavior is unpredictable and hard to control. Applications like Corel Ventura 10 that have menus and applets outside on the primary program window suffer -- you can't control where those menus and applets appear.

In Windows XP you could place applications side by side and easily cut and paste between them. WIth GimmeSpace you can place applications side by side, but they are hard to work with since they keep moving. This does not enhance productivity.

So even though GimmeSpace is quite a technical achievement, after nearly 2 weeks of using it I've just plain gone back to using Windows XP for certain applications. My productivity was suffering badly under Windows 7 and GimmeSpace. I wish that the very clever creator of GimmeSpace could use his or her considerable talents to actually enable a genuine pan-and-scan virtual desktop in Windows 7.

This is very frustrating because I really like Windows 7. It is quite a great leap forward from Windows XP in all too many ways to list -- except for it preventing the use of a pan-and-scan virtual desktop. It reminds me of one version of Windows 98 that also prevented pan-and-scan, although one videocard manufacturer got around it. But then too, Microsoft was conspiring with monitor manufacturers to encourage users to buy two and use two monitors instead of one -- which is exactly what's been going on today. Yet another example of the private sector behaving badly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Dec 2010   #10


Yes, GiMeSpace is different, and it seems the developer is proud of the "endless" feature which causes some trouble to those used to the "good old" pan and scan virtual desktop.
But as it is the only possibility (to my knowledge) in Win7 I found out some helping tricks:
First of all you should activate the option "Limit the virtual desktop size to the space used by your windows"

As this doesn't really help when you open your applications after start I created my own "background image" in the size of the needed virtual desktop. This is simply an image window of IrfanView with as less as possible decoration, started from the startup folder.
In this way, together with the above mentioned option, I have some kind of size limited virtual desktop. Before opening an application I move the desktop to the corner I want the app in.

I am aware of the fact that this primitive "background image" hides the access to the icons on the desktop. As I never need these, I did not further try making my "background image" transparent.

I hope my tricky "background image" can help you. Did you contact the author of GiMeSpace about your problem?

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 No Pan and Scan Virtual Desktop in Windows 7

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