Setting display formats on your DIRECTV receiver

Old TV show, new TV. What do you do? You have options, at least if you have a DIRECTV HD receiver. You can watch your TV your way, and we’re here to help you choose from the many selections!

There are two ways to change the screen format:
• Press {INFO}, Arrow right to Audio/Video, then keep pressing “Change Resolution and Format.” This takes you through every possible choice of resolution and format but it can take a while.

• Press {MENU}, scroll to “Settings & Help” then “Settings” “Display” “Video.” You’ll see the menu above. Here you can pick the format you want directly. Our West Coast Operations spokescat has volunteered to help illustrate what the different formats mean.

What the screen formats mean:

Crop cuts off the top and bottom of an SD picture. This is probably the worst picture quality but it fills the screen and everything looks right.

Stretch widens the SD picture to fit the HD screen. A lot of people like this option, although HD purists really don’t.

Pillar Box puts bars at the left and right of the screen so you see the whole picture, but it doesn’t fill the screen.

Original Format sends the picture to your TV without making changes to it, so if your TV has a special mode like “Just” you let the TV do the work.

If you have an HD receiver on an old TV…

Most people don’t know that the format settings work differently on SD TVs than they do on HD TVs. That’s why it’s important to set the TV Ratio (in the same display menu.) Here’s what you’ll see on an older TV:

On an SD TV, Crop cuts off the left and right of the image.

Stretch works differently on an SD TV. Instead of making the picture really wide, it makes it really thin.

SD TVs give you Letterbox as an option instead of Pillar Box, so you get black bars at the top and bottom.

Which to choose?
That’s totally up to you. Remember, it’s your TV and you should choose the one that looks best to you!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 5,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.