Are There Black Bars On Your Vizio TV Screen?

Ever notice black space around the picture on your TV?

Black bars on the top and bottom of the TV picture.

They could appear on the top and bottom of the picture like in the photo above.

Black space on the left and right of the TV screen.

Sometimes they are on the left and right.

Black space on all four sides.

Depending on what you are watching you might have black space around all four sides of the TV picture.

Many people find these black bars distracting. It’s like part of the screen is being wasted or part of the picture is being cut off. There is a reason for the black space on the display and there are ways to adjust it for a more enjoyable TV watching experience.

Why Are The Black Bars There In The First Place?

Black bars might be present because of the connection feeding the TV the image you are watching. They could be there because of how the program was filmed or how it is being broadcast. It could also look like that because of a setting from the device that is connected to your TV.

If a movie was filmed in an extra widescreen format there might be black bars at the top and bottom of the picture.

A TV show that was filmed before the adoption of high definition TVs will have black space on the left and right because it was intended for a television that was not in a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Black space might be on all four sides because a cable or satellite box is connected using a coaxial cord.

Cable Or Satellite TV Connected Using An HDMI Cord

Cable TV and satellite TV boxes will have settings on them that can be used to adjust how the picture fits on the TV screen.

Some cable or satellite remotes have a buttons labeled ZOOM, FORMAT, or maybe MENU. Check your remote for buttons with these labels. These could be used to improve the picture you see.

If you do not have buttons with these labels then contact your cable or satellite provider for assistance adjusting the image.

Devices Connected Using Coaxial or Composite Cords

If you have cable TV connected using a coaxial or composite cord you will need to adjust the image using the Vizio remote.

Vizio remotes have a button specifically for adjust how the picture fits on the display. On most new models of Vizio TV’s this button has a rectangle on it and is located about the number 2 button of the remote’s number pad.

Wide button on a Vizio remote.

Older models of Vizio remotes will have a button labeled WIDE. It is usually located next to the zero button on the number pad.

When either of these buttons are pressed a menu will appear on the display that allows you to select a view mode that will adjust the image. The available view modes on Vizio TVs are Normal, Panoramic, Wide (sometimes labeled Stretch), and Zoom. Each of these view modes changes the picture in its own unique way.


Normal view mode.

Normal mode does not adjust or change the picture. When the Normal view mode is chosen the TV will display the image that is being broadcast to it without adjusting it’s size or shape. The is the default view mode of each TV model.


Wide view mode.

Wide mode stretches the picture horizontally across the display. This mode is useful if you have black space on the left and right of the image.


Panoramic view mode.

Panoramic mode stretches the far left and right or the image while leaving the middle portion alone. Imagine the picture was separated vertically into thirds. The portion on the left and right is stretched out to fill in the black space. The middle third would be unchanged.

This is another useful view mode for when there is black space on the left and right.


Zoom view mode.

Zoom view does just what you would expect. It zooms into the image and makes everything slightly bigger. This is the best mode to use to get rid of space that might be on the top and bottom or maybe all four sides.

The downside of this view mode is that part of the image will be cut off. The very bottom and top edges of the picture might not be visible. This will be very noticeable when watching sports. Scores, team names, and other text displayed at the top and bottom of the picture might be partially obscured.

Other Options

Black space most often appears when a cable box or satellite box is connected to the TV using a coaxial cord. Another problem with this type of connection is that the image on the screen will not be in high-definition. The best resolution you can get with this type of setup would be 480p.

Cable boxes connected using HDMI cords will not have as many instances where black space is visible. If your cable or satellite box has an unused HDMI port I highly recommend connecting the box using that type of cord. You will see a marked improvement in the TV picture.

Many cable boxes still do not have HDMI ports so if your set-top box does not have one available you will need to contact your TV service provider to request a set-top box with an HDMI connection.

If you have any questions or comments please share them in the comments section below. Remember to like this page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

8 thoughts on “Are There Black Bars On Your Vizio TV Screen?

  1. Ashlynn Nelson

    The borders won’t go away and I’ve tried everything. After I click ‘Wide’ it says “normal is the optimal wide mode and can not be changed”. I need help.

  2. purl

    I’m having the same issue as Ashlynn for a Vizio D55 D1. Just can’t get the setting to change another and mine also says “normal is the optimal wide mode and can not be changed”. I’m ready to return this tv. I will try tomorrow and if I still get no changes and no answers, back it goes. Very disappointed!

  3. JohnnyNomad

    You may not be using an HDMI cable or transmitting a not hdmi image. It could have nothing to do with the TV, so check that too

  4. Joyce Johnson

    Does anyone who have a Visio Smart tv notice a purple flash happening in the upper cornet of their tvs, it happened just now again, but i noticed these purple square flashes since we got these smart tvs, is it taking my picture? These purple colored flashed happens off and on.

  5. Michael Dixon

    I am having the same optimal picture message. I know i’m getting good signal its a blueray played through a 4k upscaler

  6. Kenton Vizdos

    From what it sounds like, No. Considering its a purple square flash, I’d recommend contacting Visio about a broken TV. Both (One huge, and on 27″) don’t do that.

  7. Joyce Johnson

    Hello there Kenton, the flat screen tvs are not broken, i have 2 55 inch and both tvs do this, tvs are fine, but something is going on with this flash that happens from time to time there are days that this flash don’t appear, and learning about the smart tvs and the spying on us, i would have never let my boyfriend pick out smart tvs, and what ever features that a smart tv has we don’t use any of them and my tvs just freak me out just the though of nothing being private, im right now watching TV on an old 15 inch tv in the spare bedroom. So how do you think I can find out what this purple square flashes is all about? Ok if you have any new ideas or thoughts or even the answer I would so much appreciate it. Thankyou for responding back.

  8. Larry Bird

    I figured out why we are getting the error message “normal is the optimal wide mode and cannot be changed”. If you have a roku or other device I will use Roku for this example you have to turn of the 4k from the display settings and change to at 1080p or lower to be able to switch the aspect ratio. The reason for this is when the 4k is on the Vizio tvs will maintain the 4k upconversion and not let you change the aspect if you change it to 1080p or lower they will work. I hope this helps. Thanks

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