How to change the screen orientation in Windows

Here is a little trick that you can do to change the screen orientation in Windows XP.

Hold down the Ctrl + Alt keys and press any of the arrow keys. The screen will re-orient to match the arrow key that you pressed as shown in the image below.

Windows Screen Orientation

A few practical uses I can think of for using this trick is: change the orientation from landscape to portrait while using a Tablet PC or, if you want to see an image in a different orientation but can’t change the orientation in the application. Maybe you can think of other ways of using it.

You could also use this trick to just play a prank on your unsuspecting co-worker by changing the orientation on his/her computer. Of course the prank would work only if he is not already aware of this trick.

Update: I am told that this hotkey works equally well in Windows Vista. But I have not been able to confirm it since I don’t use Vista.  If any of the readers can confirm it or otherwise in the comments, it would be great.


  1. Vee says

    I need to do this because I have a monitor that rotates to vertical. Since they have squeezed monitors down to be such extreme horizontal proportions I am forced to rotate my monitor to vertical to work on certain things. Even for surfing it works better that way. I would prefer one of the old 4:5 ratios. My Dell monitor spazzed this week and they have replaced it with what was supposed to be a like kind refurbished monitor, but it is even more elongated than the monitor I previously had.

    The Control + Alt + Arrow is not working.

  2. dob says

    Why would you ever WANT to do this? This is a really stupid feature and it really messed me up. The only practical purpose would be a practical joke to play on someone who doesn’t know about this stupid “feature”

  3. PCheeze says

    Didn’t work for me. Eventually fixed it by right clicking the empty screen and selecting the control panel for my video card. That launched (NVIDIA in this case) and the rotate function was in there a few levels deep.

  4. pervaiz says

    does not work in vista. right click on screen and choose screen resolution and then choose option from orientation dropdown menu (Landscape, portrait, Landscape fillped, portrait filliped)

  5. Angela says

    Thanks so much for this tip! My cousin accidentally pressed a combination of keys and we were shocked to see the screen ‘flipped’. We were quite worried that we couldn’t ‘un-flip’ it until we managed to find this tip via good old Google-fu :D

  6. yOLANDA says

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you – I droped my keyborad (key side down) and my screen orientation changed – I’ve spent the last 3 days trying to get the screen back to normal.

  7. Bill R says

    Hi – I have a new-to-me Gateway M280G running Windows XP Tablet. When I try to reorient the screen for use as a tablet I continue to get a message that the action cannot be done because of the settings in my “Display” settings. I have tried [I think] every way there is to change those settings, but nothing works. Everything else works fine, but it is the wrong angle to use the stylus.
    Any suggestions appreciated.
    Bill R

  8. Grant says

    Thanks for your post! My cat stepped on the keyboard and changed the orientation of the screen, and I couldn’t figure out how to undo it until I found this – while reading sideways! Mousing was actually the hardest part…

  9. jmuhj says

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. My geeky friend and you just saved my sanity. I inadvertently rotated my display 90 degrees and found a complicated way to fix it, but couldn’t get there from here, as they say. Your fix WORKED. Bless you!

  10. Kate says

    Thanks so much – saved my life!! You should write it upside down too so it’s easier to read when your screen is up the wrong way!! haha – seriously – awesome. Thank you!

  11. says

    It will work in Vista, my fiance’s cat just demonstrated it on her Toshiba laptop for her! Found the answer here on how/what happened, thx.

  12. Jo says

    I did this accidently, and you saved me. Then, of course, I had to play a trick on my husband. He thought he had broken the laptop, and was about to call Samsung to ask about warranty!
    Thanks :)

  13. Mary says

    I tried this and it doesn’t work. The screen just stayed the same. Anyone have any idea why this might be? I can’t re-orient it.

  14. NP says

    Accidentally changed mine – your trick saved my neck (which was getting pretty sore from tilting sideways to type. Awesome.

  15. Chris says

    You just saved my sanity – my 1 year old grandson was randomly pressing keys, when the screen turned through 90 degrees – and trying even to use Help when the mouse keys work counter-intuitively was a nightmare, especially as there is no relevant help file! Even getting into Google was hard work. Many thanks

  16. homer says

    Is there a way to customize how the desktop icons are justified? When you set them to Auto Arrange in a Grid, they always left justify. Is there a way to make it do something else…say I want it to start on the bottom left and arrange towards the right?

  17. says

    Thanks a lot for the tip. Thought it would be more complex than that. I saw a web designer using that once and I thought I would give it a try. Just like Dan above I would also like to know how this can be done in Vista. Any tips are appreciated.

  18. dan says

    Does anyone know what the equivalent for vista is…the CTL + ALT and arrow doesn;t seem to work on my comp. Thanks in advance!

  19. LShirley says

    I’m running WinXP SP2 and inadvertently changed my oreintation today. Thanks for your tip. Mine works a little differently. What works for me is: with Num Lock Off, depress CTL + ALT and hit 1 key on the numkeypad then applicable arrow key on numkeypad twice.

  20. says

    @Prashant: I guess it is because of differences in graphics board. This trick seems to work by default on an Intel graphics board. On other boards you may have to enable it or change it in the display settings.

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