TV Answer Man
I Remove the Black Bars On My TV Screen?
Washington, D.C. (March 26, 2013) -
Editor's Note: TV's
Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to
best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If
you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by
sending an e-mail to
Q. I love my HDTV
but sometimes the picture gets these black bars on the side of
the picture and I can't get rid of them. They cut off the
picture and it drives me crazy!
What can I do to improve the picture? -- Helen, Butte, Montana.
Helen, those black bars are not your TV's fault. They are known
as 'Pillar Boxing' and they will show up on your screen when
your TV is set for a widescreen, HD picture, known as a 16:9
aspect ratio, but the show is in standard-definition, a 4:3
aspect ratio. Basically, the standard-definition picture is not
programmed to fit your entire screen.
There are two things you can do when this occurs.
One, you can go into your TV's menu and click on the Picture
setting. Every TV is different, but you then will look for a
setting that says Format or Ratio, or something that conveys
that you will change the size of the picture on the screen. When
you find this setting, click on the Feature that says Wide or
Zoom. This will make every channel's picture stretch across the
entire screen, regardless of whether it's in SD or HD.
Of course, as you can imagine, this will likely cause your SD
picture to look, well, stretched and that can get annoying after
awhile. So if you don't like the stretched look, you can go to
And number two is doing nothing. While the black bars will
remain on the left and right hand side of your
standard-definition picture, at least the actual picture will
See More Answers from the TV Answer Man
TV's Over $1,500
TVs From $1,000 to $1,500
TV's From $500 to $1000
TV's Under $500