What You Should Be Able to See

Let's start by describing the kinds of pictures we have on the site.

On Text Pages:

Text pages have small illustrations here and there, mostly photos and maps. None are more than about 200 pixels wide, which means that you can more or less see what's in the photos, but can't make head nor tail of the maps.

All of these illustrations (except for a very few that we didn't take ourselves but downloaded from the Internet) can be enlarged with a click. If you hold the cursor on an illustration for a few seconds, you'll see a note indicating what it is and whether it can be enlarged.

When you click, a larger version of the picture or map appears in a popup window. Pictures are enlarged to about 533x400 pixels (px), a size that fits on just about anybody's screen, but is big enough to see pretty well. The windows have scrollbars (even though many viewers won't need them) to help you make sure you didn't miss anything at the edges.

The maps come in more varied sizes and shapes. Regardless of your screen size and resolution, you may need to use the scrollbars to see some of them in full.

All the pictures used to illustrate the text pages (except for the handful we didn't take) are also included in the picture galleries.

In Picture Galleries:

When you display a picture (by clicking either a thumbnail in the narrow left frame or an arrow over an adjacent picture) it appears in the main frame to the right at the same standard size (533x400 px, or 400x533 px for narrow pictures) as the illustrations on the text pages when enlarged.

Any picture in the main frame can be displayed in a larger size by clicking it. When you do this, a window pops up in which the picture is enlarged to 900x675 px. This is too large for a screen where the resolution is set as low as 800x600 px, and it may be hard to see the whole window even at 1024x768, depending on the size of your screen.

Remember, though, the lower your screen resolution, the bigger those standard 533x400 px pictures look, so you probably won't miss much if you don't try to enlarge them. I haven't provided scrollbars for the windows that pop up on the gallery pages. If the window is way too big for you to see all (or nearly all) of the enlarged picture at once, you don't really need that version. The standard one is big enough on your screen.

This is also a good place to mention download times. The enlarged picture files are, on average, about twice the size of the standard picture files. If your Internet connection isn't very fast, you may find that waiting for them to download takes more time than you really want to invest.

But let's suppose that you could see the pictures if they were just a little bit smaller. The next few paragraphs offer a few suggestions.

Resetting Your Browser

Before starting, a couple of notes:

  • I know there are other browsers besides Internet Explorer (IE), but that's the only one I have, so it's the only one I can say anything about. If you're using a different browser, there’s a good chance that you already have all the computer savvy you need to solve any viewing problems for yourself.
  • I also regret that I can't say "if your screen resolution is 1024x768 do this; if it's 1152x864, do that," and so on. Unfortunately, what you can see is determined by a combination of the screen size and the resolution, and there are too many possible combinations to offer a simple formula for each one.

If your screen is large enough and your resolution high enough so that you can see all the enlarged pictures without difficulty, your conditions are ideal. Under ideal conditions, we've been told, your screen will display pictures with the most accurate detail if IE is set to disable “automatic image resizing.” This feature can cause the browser in some circumstances to make a picture larger than its original size, with consequent loss of detail. So, if everything you want to see seems to fit pretty well on your screen, here's how to look up this feature and disable it:

  1. On the IE menu bar, Click Tools > Internet Options... > Advanced and move the slider down until you see the heading Multimedia. The first item below this heading is “Enable Automatic Image Resizing.”
  2. If necessary, click the checkbox to the left of this item to clear it. If the box is empty, the feature is already disabled.
  3. Click OK.

But if your screen is almost large enough to see the whole popup window, but not quite, you may want to have this feature enabled. Then you can drag the corner of a window and see the picture shrink to fit inside it. It won't be as big as the original, and it may not be quite as perfectly detailed, but if you shrink it just a little and can see a significant difference, your eyes are better than mine. (No great distinction, I fear.)

To enable automatic resizing, follow the 3-step procedure above, but reverse the second step: if there's a check in the box, leave it alone; if there isn't, click the box to check it.

You can resize popup windows even if automatic resizing is disabled, but when you do that, only the window changes, not the picture — you see less and less of the picture as the window gets smaller and smaller.

Hiding Your Taskbar

If you can almost, but not quite, see the bottom of the window because it's hidden by your taskbar, you can change the setting on the taskbar so that it doesn't get in the way.

This is something you'll probably want to do only temporarily, because most of the time it’s convenient to have the taskbar always visible. But the change is quick and easy to make in both directions.

  1. Right-click a place on the taskbar that isn't occupied by a button and select Properties to open the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window.
  2. On the Taskbar tab, under the heading “Taskbar Appearance,” click to uncheck the third item, “Keep the taskbar on top of other windows.”
  3. Click OK.

That keeps the taskbar from hiding the bottom of the popup window. When you're ready to reverse it, use the same procedure, but this time recheck the "Keep on top" item when you get to step 2.

Changing Your Screen Resolution

If you're prevented from seeing the pictures by a screen resolution that's too low, you may be able to change it to a higher resolution. Many people have their screen resolution set at a lower value than the graphics card in their computer can support — often because they got used to the way the screen looked 15 years ago and didn't see any reason to change it when they got a new computer (or two or three generations of new computers).

If you’re running a fairly recent version of Windows (98 or later), it isn’t difficult to try resetting the monitor. If the result doesn't look good to you, you can easily to go back to the old setting.

I'm sure that most people already know how to do this, but for anyone who doesn't, here's the way. (You have to be able to see your computer's desktop for this, so if there’s a program filling the whole screen, close or minimize it first.)

  1. Right-click any unoccupied place on the desktop and select Properties to open the Display Properties window.
  2. Click the Settings tab at the upper right. In the lower part of the window, find "Screen resolution" and "Color quality."
  3. Make sure that color quality is set to "Highest (32 bit)."
  4. Use the slider bar to change the screen resolution. (For this website, I recommend at least 1152x864 if your computer supports it, and higher if possible. You may want to try increasing the resolution in gradual stages rather than shooting for the highest numbers right away.)
  5. Click OK.

Repeat the procedure until you're satisfied with the results.