DPI scaling is a function performed either by the operating system or by the application, to increase the visual size of content proportionate to the "dots per inch" setting of the display. Generally it allows content to appear at the same physical size on systems with different display resolutions, or to at least be usable on very high-resolution displays. Sometimes a user may increase the DPI setting just to make content larger and more comfortable to read.
A_ScreenDPI returns the DPI setting of the primary screen.
There are two types of DPI scaling that relate to AutoHotkey: Gui DPI Scaling and OS DPI Scaling.
Automatic scaling is performed by the Gui and GuiControl methods/properties by default, so that GUI scripts with hard-coded positions, sizes and margins will tend to scale as appropriate on high DPI screens. If this interferes with the script, or if the script will do its own scaling, the automatic scaling can be disabled. For more details, see the -DPIScale option.
For applications which are not DPI-aware, the operating system automatically scales coordinates passed to and returned from certain system functions. This type of scaling affects AutoHotkey only on systems with multiple screens where not all screens have the same DPI setting.
On Windows 8.1 and later, secondary screens can have different DPI settings, and "per-monitor DPI-aware" applications are expected to scale their windows according to the DPI of whichever screen they are currently on, adapting dynamically when the window moves between screens.
For applications which are not per-monitor DPI-aware, the system performs bitmap scaling to allow windows to change sizes when they move between screens, and hides this from the application by reporting coordinates and sizes scaled to the global DPI setting that the application expects to have. For instance, on an 11 inch 4K screen, a GUI designed to display at 96 dpi (100%) would be almost impossible to use, whereas upscaling it by 200% would make it usable.
AutoHotkey is not designed to perform per-monitor scaling, and therefore has not been marked as per-monitor DPI-aware. This is a boon, for instance, when moving a GUI window between a large external screen with 100% DPI and a smaller screen with 200% DPI. However, automatic scaling does have negative implications.
In order of the system's automatic scaling to work, system functions such as MoveWindow and GetWindowRect automatically scale the coordinates that they accept or return. When AutoHotkey uses these functions to work with external windows, this often produces unexpected results if the coordinates are not on the primary screen. To add further confusion, some functions scale coordinates based on which screen the script's last active window was displayed on.
On Windows 10 version 1607 and later, the SetThreadDpiAwarenessContext system function can be used to change the program's DPI awareness setting at runtime. For instance, enabling per-monitor DPI awareness disables the scaling performed by the system, so built-in functions such as WinMove and WinGetPos will accept or return coordinates in pixels, untouched by DPI scaling. However, if a GUI is sized for a screen with 100% DPI and then moved to a screen with 200% DPI, it will not adjust automatically, and may be very hard to use.
To enable per-monitor DPI awareness, call the following function prior to using functions that are normally affected by DPI scaling:
DllCall("SetThreadDpiAwarenessContext", "ptr", -3, "ptr")
On Windows 10 version 1703 and later, -3 can be replaced with -4 to enable the "Per Monitor v2" mode. This enables scaling of dialogs, menus, tooltips and some other things. However, it also causes the non-client area (title bar) to scale, which may cause the window's client area to be too small unless the script is designed to adjust for it (such as by responding to the WM_DPICHANGED message). This can be avoided by setting the context to -3 before creating the GUI, but -4 before creating any tooltips, menus or dialogs.
The thread's DPI awareness may temporarily change while the user is moving one of the script's windows, or while the script is displaying a dialog. Therefore, it is safest to set the DPI awareness immediately before using any functions which rely on it.
Per-monitor DPI awareness can be enabled process-wide by changing the content of the
<dpiAware> element of the compiled script's manifest resource from
true (the default set in the base AutoHotkey executable file) to