Caution: only tested with
MSFS 2002 and 2004

1600x1200x32 Full screen Resolution in FS2002

A common problem: loss of the 1600x1200x32 full screen resolution option in the FS2002 Options.Settings.Display.Hardware menu. Here is my current assessment of the situation - subject to revision. I encourage feedback, corrections, ...

DEFINITIONS of my terms:

Resolution - refers to full screen resolution only, where FS2002 can safely alter display attributes. Windowed mode must run at the current desktop resolution.

Menu - refers to the Options.Settings.Display.Hardware.Fullscreen Display Resolution settings


Screen resolutions available in the sim seem to be determined by a combination of factors:

At startup, it seems to use the Mode entry in Display section of fs2002.cfg, if that value is supported. If not, it probably uses the value selected in the Menu.

While running, the options available in the Menu are determined by:

* info about your system stored during the FS2002 installation
* your desktop resolution when the sim is started


1) Be sure you have set your video display to 1600x1200x32 using the Windows Control Panel Display app. This will confirm that your system can support this resolution. If this resolution is not available here, then it will not be available to the sim. If you think your system should support this resolution, you may need to update your drivers.

2) In the sim, go into the Options.Settings.Display.Scenery menu and check the "Ground Scenery Casts Shadows" option. Exit the sim.

3) Manually set the resolution entry in Display section of your fs2002.cfg file.


This setting will not put this option back in the menu, but it will be used when the sim starts, if possible.

Restart the sim. To determine if you are now running with 32-bit color depth, check for transparent shadows cast by ground scenery (buildings); 16-bit color supports only solid black shadows. If you have transparent shadows, you are now running in 32-bit mode. You can now decide whether to bother with 32-bit color depth at all, live with the cfg work-around, or attempt to put the option back in the Menu.

Note: If you go into the menus and change any value that requires the sim to reload Scenery textures, 3D objects, ... (even if in another menu branch - Season, for example), it will then use the resolution selected in the Hardware dialog, not the value in the cfg file. And continues to do so until you shut down. If the 1600x200x32 option is not in the list, it cannot use it any longer in that session.

If you now restart the sim, it will again read fs2002.cfg and use your preferred resolution (if not changed in the Menu), but only until you change a setting that requires reloading textures, ...

REPAIR (not trivial - I believe this procedure is safe, but attempt at your own risk):

This problem seems to be due to a setting FS2002 stores during installation but which is no longer valid. This may be due to corruption of the value or to a change in your system that the sim is unaware of (new graphics card seems a likely candidate).

I have successfully restored the option to the Menu by reinstalling FS2002. This is not always a trivial approach, so I will suggest one last resort short of a full reinstallation, if you have sufficient free disk space available.

1) Rename the current FS2002 folder, or move it to another location. Windows will probably complain about problems with Registry entries, but continue anyway.

2) Reinstall FS2002. This should configure the display information correctly. Try running this version; 1600x1200x32 should now be an option in the Menu.

3) Now move or rename this version and restore the original FS2002 version, which will use the updated Registry and ini settings.

4) Run your original version of the sim. If the sim now works correctly, the resolution information is probably stored in the Registry or an ini file in Windows, and your problem is solved. (This worked for me.)

If not, then it is probably stored in a setting in an FS2002 cfg file. You still have these files in the newly installed version of the sim, and will have investigate the differences to see if you can locate the setting that corrects this problem. (I did not have to do this, but include it as another possible step.)


I have carefully searched the Registry, ini and cfg files for the setting that controls this option. No luck.

I then ran Regmon and Filemon while starting FS2002. These programs will track all accesses to the Registry and File System. I saved the results in text files and then imported them into an MS Access data base where I used Queries to refine my searches for useful information. (Regmon reported about 60,000 Registry accesses, Filemon about 50,000 File System accesses!) Still no success, but this does not mean the information is not there.

I have upgraded driver versions and DX versions without affecting this setting, so these do not seem to be the issue, but may be if a different graphics card/chipset is involved.

FUTURE options:

from MS

* have the sim read the correct info at FS startup
* offer a utility to update this info as it does during installation
* tell us what to reconfigure manually

on our own

We need to identify what we changed that caused the problem. A new graphics card installation seems most likely. Perhaps a few people, aware of this issue, can check the Menu options before and after installation to confirm this. If this is the cause, we can the run Regmon and Filemon (or other utilities) to track changes during a graphics card installation. There should be much less to track here than during the sim startup. This process may help locate a parameter we can change manually.

It may prove useful to track driver installations as well.