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How to enable Auto HDR in Windows 11

Windows 11 Start Hero Surface Book
Windows 11 Start Hero Surface Book (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

While plenty haven't yet upgraded to Windows 11, for gamers, in particular, there are plenty of reasons to. One of these is Auto HDR, which when paired with an HDR display, can make even non-HDR-enabled games look better.

It isn't exactly proper HDR, but the feature uses the ability of a compatible display to boost colors in games with no performance hit. Auto HDR is part of the main Windows display settings, but if you were hoping you might be able to get some benefit without an HDR display, sorry, you're out of luck.

Windows 11 will detect whether you have a compatible display attached, and if you don't, you won't have access to the feature. If you do, here's how to turn it on.

How to enable Auto HDR in Windows 11

Windows 11 HDR Settings

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

Enabling the Auto HDR takes mere seconds and a few clicks in the right place.

  1. Right-click on the desktop.
  2. Click Display Settings.
  3. Ensure Use HDR is enabled.
  4. Click User HDR to open the HDR settings menu.
  5. Ensure Auto HDR is enabled.

Windows 11 Auto HDR Settings

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

That's all there is to it. It's not the only way you can enable it, though, and if you're already in-game and want a friendlier way to turn it on without having to tab out of what you're playing, you can also enable Auto HDR from the Xbox Game Bar.

  1. Open Xbox Game Bar by pressing Win + G.
  2. Click on the Settings cog.
  3. Select Gaming Features from the sidebar.
  4. Check both boxes for HDR settings.
  5. Close Xbox Game Bar.

Windows 11 Hdr Game Bar Settings

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

Additionally, when you use the Xbox Game Bar method you get access to an intensity slider, so you can adjust the strength of the Auto HDR on a game-by-game basis while you play.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

1 Comment
  • Just an FYI for possible others in this situation. Apparently, Win11 uses DX12U so if your card doesn't support it, you cannot do HDR. I lost access to HDR when upgrading to Win11. Still using a GTX970 until I can get my hands on a newer GPU.