With high-resolution monitors becoming more popular, does the StackExchange team have any plans to make these websites use more display area when the browser is maximized/fullscreen?

Currently, I am using a full HD display (1920x1080). Only about 3/7 of the width of my display is used on StackExchange sites:

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Actual Image

In addition, with current 2560w displays and future high-resolution displays, the amount of unused space is greater than the space used to display content.

In my opinion, the horizontal layout should be fluid - proportionally adjusting to the width of your browser window to maximize the use of your display. It probably shouldn't expand to fit the entire width of the window, because that would require users constantly turn their heads to view all of the content.

This similar question has valid arguments:

(1) I like being able to size my browser window to hide the panel on the right without losing question/answer size now and then (mainly when I'm working on two things at once).

(2) I like knowing approximately how my answers will look in terms of paragraph size and so forth.

(3) I like knowing that syntax highlighter wrapped things correctly.

(4) Mostly, I like that this helps encourage brevity in code samples - if the sample is long enough that you're losing code for nesting reasons, it's time to re-focus your thoughts and pare down to just what's relevant to the problem.

My counter-arguments:

(1) Add a "collapse side panel" feature that remembers your preference.

(2) Why does this matter? A high-quality answer will contain only relevant and necessary information. (Maybe restrict post length for new users?) Also, see point (3) below.

(3) Never depend on the code formatter correctly wraping/indenting code. You can preview posts below the editor anyway.

(4) This will happen in posts regardless of the width of the page. Even with this 960px-wide page, some users constantly dump entire programs into a post. See parenthetical in point (2).

Does the community have any thoughts or suggestions on this matter?

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    It's worth noting the MacBook Pro Retina does not have a 2880 width display, in fact you have to get a third party tool to enable that...it has more pixels for a more crisp display, but the default is an effective 1440 width resolution. This is important because that's a different problem: retina resolution images, which are on our todo list (it's not as simple as making making high-res images). Jun 23, 2012 at 18:56
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    So where exactly is that unused space? ;-) (And even on my 1440 wide display I never use a full width browser.)
    – Arjan
    Jun 23, 2012 at 18:59
  • @NickCraver You are correct about the MBPwRD resolution being 1440w native, however, it can go up to 1920w. I have redacted that statement. Jun 23, 2012 at 19:01
  • @Arjan Maybe we need a mobile app for SE sites, too ;-) Jun 23, 2012 at 19:03
  • I posted a link to a screenshot to make the point. Jun 23, 2012 at 19:10
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/131045/… Jun 23, 2012 at 20:01
  • While the case is made for the fixed width, any chance we can support aligning the content to the left instead of center regardless of the UI window being wide or maximized? The entire "multiple windows" argument is broken because the wasted space to the left can not be hidden by the UI, in particular if you want to have multiple windows having SE tabs as well as other site tabs. Dec 13, 2013 at 0:21

3 Answers 3


One thing typographers, typesetters, printers, and designers have sort of converged on since text started being written on pages is an ideal column width: make it too short, and the eye has to shift too often too fast. Make it too long, and the head has to turn (even slightly) to continue reading.

While it's arguable whether SE is using the correct width for maximum legibility, they're guaranteed to get it wrong 99.99999% of the time if the text reflows (and nothing else is done, see below) any time a browser window is resized.

Besides, I don't buy the argument that it's completely wasted space: one of the main benefits of having a higher-resolution monitor is to have multiple windows open at the same time:


Having only one window open is like buying the latest $500 graphics card to play Solitaire.

Of course, it'd be ideal if SE sites were responsive: removing elements on smaller-width displays (like 7" screens or smartphones) and such. There might be something that could be done for wide-screen displays in that respect. If there was a lot of text, you'd generally want to create a new column, but that really wouldn't make sense for the vast majority of question and answer pairs.

Perhaps one of the following could be done for extremely wide windows:

  • Reflowing the page so the answers are to the right of the question
  • Giving more breathing room to the sidebar
  • Adding column after column of unicorns as the browser resizes

I'm not convinced at all the large screen size warrants that kind of attention, though. Embrace the second window of kittens!

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    +1 for cute kittens. Oh, and a halfway decent answer, too! ;) Jun 23, 2012 at 19:22
  • Good point - I use the Snap feature in Windows 7 for this purpose. I actually have dual monitors, though, and prefer to utilize the entire screen for a single application in both monitors. Jun 23, 2012 at 19:33
  • Excellent point about making the most of your extra desktop space. For instance, my desktop on an average day.
    – Shog9
    Jun 23, 2012 at 19:57
  • @Shog what did you cut out in the top left corner?
    – Pekka
    Jun 23, 2012 at 20:53
  • Heh... Nothing - that's the part of the desktop on my (smaller) laptop screen. @Disc
    – Shog9
    Jun 23, 2012 at 21:11
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    @Shog9 You have Trello open on an average day? LIES.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 23, 2012 at 21:13
  • 2
    Curses, you've exposed my deception!
    – Shog9
    Jun 23, 2012 at 21:17
  • 1
    you sold your opinion very well..
    – bragboy
    Jul 19, 2012 at 19:47

I think this would be very beneficial for code blocks.

Text is a different issue because we want it to be readable, and there are diminishing returns when you spread it out.

But it's incredibly annoying to have to scroll sideways to see the full code block (especially for languages like Java and ObjC, where there are some ridiculously named functions/methods).

  • Very true! Reading code blocks on a site that is all about coding like Stack Overflow is very difficult sometimes.
    – Klaas
    Sep 17, 2014 at 12:17

As Mark noted, there are really good design reasons for not going wider with the main layout. If, however, your preferences vary and you really want your own way, this would be really easy to fix yourself. All you need to do is code up a little custom site CSS yourself. The easy way to do this is with extensions like Stylebot (for Chrome or Firefox). The CSS you could use for a wider fix layout would look like this:

#content, #header, #question-header {
    width: 1280px;

#header #hmenus {
    float: right;

#mainbar, .mainbar, #answers-header {
    width: 1055px;

#question, #answers, .comments {
    width: 1048px;

.post-text {
    width: 980px;
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    Yes, you get reflowing, but without the layout support that good reflowing requires, you just bet a broken page layout. Oct 1, 2012 at 16:27

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