Windows – Why won’t Windows 7 remember the screen resolution settings

multiple-monitorsthinkpadwindowswindows 7

I have a Lenovo Thinkpad T420. I use it in three situations:

  1. Connected to docking station with two LCD monitors at 1280 x 1024.
  2. Connected to docking station with two 21" LCD monitors at 1680 x 1050
  3. In regular laptop mode (using the native monitor).

In all three situations, my screen resolution gets adjusted automatically, and the monitors (or monitor) appear as they should.

The problem is that, in the first situation, the desktop gets extended to a third monitor (VGA) even though no monitor is plugged into that video card. I have to manually turn off "Extend desktop to this display" or my cursor gets lost in this region of my desktop.

Is there any way to prevent this from happening? It never happened until I moved my workstation from one part of the room to another, which involved unplugging everything and re-plugging it back in.

Settings on startup

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Settings after turning off "Extend destop to this monitor"

Why won't it remember this?

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Screen capture of my display settings for situation #2:

Monitor #1 and #2 are reversed. Could this be the reason for the problem?

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Best Answer

As far as I am aware, there's no way to force Windows 7 to not use settings it autodetects from the graphics hardware. This is fundamentally the same problem as How to disable monitor auto detection in Windows 7? -- it appears Windows thinks what the hardware says is more important than what the user says.

In some ways, this is better than how things were done in previous versions of Windows -- namely, because plugging a Win7 machine into, for example, a projector works as a user would probably expect in all cases. That is, the projector is initialized and treated as a screen without digging through the control panel.

Unfortunately, such things do result in cases where the auto detection goes wrong, but Windows doesn't seem to provide any sort of override switch for this, which is unfortunate.

Something seems to be making the graphics there believe a third display is connected; you may wish to see if blowing the connectors out with gas duster has any effect, both on the actual VGA connector and on the dock connector (male and female sides for both connectors).

One last thing, for your Lenovo specifically, the most recent Intel HD3000 driver updates available on their website have this in the changelog (emphasis mine):


[Important updates] Nothing.

[New functions or enhancements] Nothing.

[Problem fixes]

  • Fixed an issue where a video embedded into a PowerPoint document might not play or the system might crash during playback.

  • Fixed an issue where no video is fed to the external monitors when the user locks the desktop before docking the system.

This isn't exactly your issue but installing the update may help anyway. If you have a discrete graphics card in your particular configuration, also check to see if an update for that is available (my machine is an X220 so I'm not familiar with the discrete graphics options available on the T420...).

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