Solving the high-resolution usability issue in Tableau Desktop

This one has been driving me nuts for way too long. And today, I found a resource that solves this problem once and for all.

First, what’s the problem? Well, I have a Lenovo Yoga 3. And it comes with a lush 3200×1800 resolution screen. For the most part, it’s fabulous. But when I open Tableau, the user interface is horrible and unusable. Text in pills overlaps with the edges of the pills; the items in the panes on the left-hand side overlap with one another. The Show Me menu on the right-hand side almost invisible. And the pop-up messages, including the equation editor, are so small that they’re unusable.

But there’s a relatively simple one-time solution. And thanks to Dan Antonielli for helping out here. (He was having similar problems with the Adobe suite of products.)

Out of the box, Tableau informs Windows upon loading that it’s a DPI-aware product (DPI here meaning dots per inch). The solution makes Tableau think it’s not DPI-aware, which is basically the truth.

To solve the problem, we need to do two things. First, we need to create a new file in the system registry. And then we need to add a new file to the folder in which your Tableau executable sits. It sounds a bit scary, but it’s really not.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

First, creating a new entry in the registry:

  • Open the registry. You can do this by hitting Windows Button + R and typing regedit
  • Navigate to the following location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > SideBySide
  • Right-click the SideBySide folder and hit NEW > DWORD (32-bit) Value
  • In the new entry that appears, type the name PreferExternalManifest and hit Enter
  • Right-click the new entry and hit Modify
  • In the Value Data field, replace the 0 with a 1 and change the Base value to Decimal using the radio buttons
  • Hit OK and you can now close the registry.

Now we need to create a dummy executable in the Tableau folder:

  • First, download this file: tableaumanifest
  • Now move the file you just downloaded to the folder in which your Tableau Desktop executable sits. For Tableau 9, this is C:\Program Files\Tableau\Tableau 9.0\bin
  • Now change the name of the file to tableau.exe.manifest
  • If it gives a security warning, accept this.

Now, when you open Tableau, you’ll be presented with a delightful interface with fonts that look normal, pop-ups that you can read, and an interface that will let you create some magic.

Update: I did this originally on Windows 10. My computer just did an unprompted upgrade within version 10. And the fix stopped working. I was close to tears.

But apparently, the registry is overwritten with large upgrades, so you’ll need to redo that step if it stops working.

Happy days are here again.

7 thoughts on “Solving the high-resolution usability issue in Tableau Desktop

  1. Natraj says:

    Hi Dan, thanks for this. You mentioned “First, download this file: tableaumanifest.txt” where do I download it from? Unable to find the links anywhere on this page. Appreciate your help.

  2. Burke Foley says:

    I have this working on the most recent build of Windows 10, Tableau 9.3 and Tableau 10 Beta 4 but I can’t seem to get around the text and images being a bit blurry on my 3840×2160 display at 150% scaling. Any tips to remove the blurriness?

    I can’t believe that even in the last beta version for Tableau 10, they haven’t addressed the scaling issues. Even checking the option to disable display scaling on high DPI settings doesn’t work.

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