Main Menu

Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode

I'm having video and display problems in a Valve/Source game, how do I change my video and display settings during launch?

My monitor displays an error such as "Signal out of range" or "Unsupported video mode." How do I set a proper resolution and/or refresh rate prior to launching the game?

Note:

The following processes are suggested only for Valve games. These options may have no effect when launching other Steam games

 

If you have not recently changed your video settings and you are experiencing video and display problems, please ensure your video drivers and DirectX are updated before proceeding:

Troubleshooting Video Errors

How do I set the autoconfig launch option?

The -autoconfig launch option will allow Steam to configure a Valve/Source game with the best settings for use on your machine.

  1. Open Steam
  2. Go to the "Library"
  3. Right-click the game which needs to be reconfigured
  4. Select "Properties" from the menu
  5. Click the "Set launch options..." button
  6. Remove any launch options currently shown. 
  7. Type -autoconfig in the box.

How do I set the safe mode launch option?

The -safe launch option will cause the game to launch with minimal video settings, in windowed mode and with a 640 x 480 resolution. This can be helpful for solving video configuration problems.

  1. Open Steam
  2. Go to the "Library"
  3. Right-click the game which needs to be reconfigured
  4. Select "Properties" from the menu
  5. Click the "Set launch options..." button
  6. Remove any launch options currently shown. 
  7. Type -safe in the box.

How do I force a working DirectX level and video mode?

If the Valve/Source game fails to load with the default settings, you will need to test for a working DirectX level and video mode.

 

Force a DirectX level

This process may help with some older video cards - some users report the game will run faster, as well:

  1. Open Steam
  2. Go to the "Library"
  3. Right-click the game which needs to be reconfigured
  4. Select "Properties" from the menu
  5. Click the "Set launch options..." button
  6. Remove any launch options currently shown. 
  7. Type one of the DirectX level launch options specified below in the box 
DirectX Level Launch Options
  • -dxlevel 90 (DirectX v9.0)
  • -dxlevel 81 (DirectX v8.1)
  • -dxlevel 80 (DirectX v8.0)

 

Force a Video Mode

Follow these instructions to configure your video mode and resolution before launching a game:

Important:

If you are forcing a refresh rate on your system (this is not recommended), you will need to ensure that you specify the forced refresh rate in the launch options.

  1. Open Steam
  2. Go to the "Library"
  3. Right-click the game which needs to be reconfigured
  4. Select "Properties" from the menu
  5. Click the "Set launch options..." button
  6. Remove any launch options currently shown. 
  7. Type -gl in the box.
  8. Specify the appropriate Video Mode and Video Option switches from the lists below

 

Video Mode Launch Options

Use the -w # switch (where " # " is a number from the list below) to specify the display resolution:

  • 640 (640x480) GoldSource Only
  • 720 (720x576)
  • 800 (800x600)
  • 1024 (1024x768) - This mode offers the best performance for most cards
  • 1152 (1152x864)
  • 1280 (1280x1024) - This mode is optimal for high-end cards
  • 1600 (1600x1200) - This mode requires a high-end monitor and a high-performance card

 

Notes on Display Resolution Settings

Higher resolutions will affect the Frames Per Second which your machine can display (800x600 & up)

640x480 resolution may run slower than 800x600 resolution on newer video cards.

 

Supported Video Options
  • -gl use the OpenGL engine GoldSource Only
  • -16bpp or -32bpp - Forces the selected color mode (bit depth). GoldSource only
  • -soft use the Software engine
  • -width # (where " # " is the width in pixels of desired video mode) sets the video mode width
  • -w # (see the Supported Video Modes list above)
  • -fullscreen or -full use Full Screen mode (default)
  • -startwindowed / -sw / -windowed / -window / -win use the Window display mode (game appears as a window on the desktop)

 

Problem with Steam?

Contact Steam Support
Related Articles
Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode Troubleshooting Video Errors
Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode Updating Drivers
Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode Setting Game Launch Options
Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode Console
Reset Video Settings and Force a Video Mode Removing and Reinstalling Video Drivers