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Whether you’re a longtime DISH customer or just visiting someone who is, it’s common to find that your television viewing is just not quite perfect. Often times this is due to the screen format. Screen formatting is a very subjective thing. Some of us don’t want to see any black bars on the screen while others prefer to see the screen exactly as it’s presented, black bars and all.

If you’re watching TV and you want to change things up, the FORMAT button on the lower left of the screen is your best friend. On DISH DVRs, every channel can be set invidividually, so it may take a while for you to get just the look you want on every channel. On the other hand, once it’s set you probably won’t have to change it again.

Look for the FORMAT button at the lower left of the remote near the 7 button. It’s easy to choose between the screen sizes you’re looking for. In most cases, the options will be:

Normal: This mode doesn’t make any changes to the picture that’s displayed. This is best for HD channels that show HD content.

Stretch: This will take a picture formatted for an older TV and stretch it to fit a newer one. However, if the picture is formatted for a widescreen TV, it will be further stretched and you’ll lose the left and right sides.

Zoom: Here, the image will be zoomed in so that the top and bottom are cut off but the image goes all the way from edge to edge.

Partial Zoom: This is a good compromise for many SD channels. It cuts off some of the picture at top and bottom but generally there is enough to see all the information you need unless it’s a news or sports channel.

Keep pressing the FORMAT button until you get what you want. Yes, you have to do this on every channel, and that can be annoying at first.

If you’re visiting someone with DISH, be polite — remember to set the format back the way you found it when you’re done.

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