Font Smoothing in OS X

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by GladRags, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. GladRags macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    #1
    My first post... :)

    I've been checking out the new PowerBooks in the store and they sure are sweet....but I must say one thing that drives me mad is font smoothing. I can't stand it on my current PC, and I definitely don't like it on the PowerBook. I just prefer the look of un-smoothed fonts.

    Now I've searched the forums, and it seems I can disable this by using a third party program. One of these threads suggested, however, that completely disabling Font Smoothing would hinder performance - is this true, or did I misread?

    Also, will there still be the ability to disable it in the forthcoming Tiger?
     
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #2
    Hmmm, first, welcome to the fold! :)

    I don't think you're going to see more options to disable font smoothing in any future OS on any system...I think it's here to stay. OS X does let you select the smallest fonts which will be smoothed from system preferences (but the highest you can set this is to not smooth fonts <12 points), and there're the third-party apps like you mentioned, but font smoothing seems to be the overall way of things.

    With regard to performance, I have heard this too, that leaving font smoothing can actually enhance performance, as opposed to when it is off. I don't understand that at all. I'd be curious if anyone can explain why?
     
  3. GladRags thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 18, 2005
    #3
    Thanks for the welcome! I've been lurking here for several weeks...this forum is a great resource.

    Yes, I don't expect a reappearance of the 'Off' option in OS X. I guess I just wondered whether the third party solution will still work in Tiger.

    And yes, like you, I am curious about what others have to say, re: performance issues.
     
  4. James Philp macrumors 65816

    James Philp

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    Oxford/London
    #4
    In 10.3 a program called "TinkerTool" Will let you completely turn smoothing off. Google baby.
     
  5. Daveway macrumors 68040

    Daveway

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    Location:
    New Orleans / Lafayette, La
    #5
    Between OS X and Windows XP, I would say OS X has the downside to font smoothing. Font smoothing was something MS got right and Apple didn't. If you notice Apple's font smoothing is harder on the eyes because it uses so many different colors in the process. Windows on the other hand has superior font smoothing. This is a rare occasion that I actually give props to Windows.
    To turn on/off font smoothing in OS X: System prefs>appearance. Even though you're on a LCD use the CRT setting if you don't like font smoothing.
     
  6. Jigglelicious macrumors 6502

    Jigglelicious

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    Location:
    NYC
    #6
    I would have to agree with you 100%. The font smoothing in XP is far less blurry than in OS X, and is overall much more readable. Panther improved the font smoothing a great deal (Jaguar's was absolutely horrible!), but its still not up to snuff with XP and its Cleartype.

    I would also recommend that you use the CRT setting whether you are on a CRT or an LCD, as the text just seems more readable and has less visual noise compared with the LCD settings.
     
  7. andrewfee macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2004
    #7
    It depends on what your preferences are really. OSX's font smoothing is designed to render fonts as they would look when printed, which gives a much more accurate representation of them then XP's in my opinion.

    For me, I find that reading a page of text is easier in osx, because it looks like I'm reading a printed page, on XP there's just something about the font rendering I don't like. (and yes, I've played about with the advanced tweaking stuff on XP)
     
  8. jackieonasses macrumors 6502a

    jackieonasses

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    Location:
    the great OKLAHOMA....
    #8
    If you look at the "200+ features of Tiger" you'll see a new type of font smoothing. They say it automatically adjusts. Or something, maybe they totally revamped everything? I would sure hope so. As is the last category (in my book) that Windows is beating OS X..


    kyle
     
  9. GladRags thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 18, 2005
    #9
    Just to echo mkrishnan from the beginning of this thread:

    Can anyone shed light on this?
     
  10. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    North Carolina
    #10
    I have not noticed any improvement overall, but MS Word is WAY faster with smoothing on.
     
  11. Jigglelicious macrumors 6502

    Jigglelicious

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    #11
    I had Tiger installed earlier (though I went back to Panther for my own reasons), and the font smoothing, when left to "automatic" was a bit darker, and had slightly more pronounced fonts as compared to Panther. Overall its a pretty decent improvement, although the text is still fairly fat and blurry compared to windows and its cleartype.
     
  12. GladRags thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 18, 2005
    #12
    I am surprised that font-smoothing is being forced by Apple. This is the one thing that is holding me back from getting a PowerBook. I just don't like font-smoothing period - either on Windows or OS X.

    I know I can turn it off with TinkerTool, but what is the point if I get a hit in performance (which makes no sense to me anyway).

    /vent mode off. :)
     
  13. slb macrumors 6502

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    Apr 15, 2005
    Location:
    New Mexico
    #13
    Wow, I disagree with most of the posters here. I find OS X's font-smoothing to be completely superior and more readable than Windows XP's. Different strokes, I guess.
     
  14. MoparShaha macrumors 68000

    MoparShaha

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    Location:
    San Francisco
    #14
    I used to like ClearType more than OS X's font smoothing. Now that I've been using OS X's smoothing for a few months (I had it off before), I much prefer it to ClearType. ClearType over-exaggerates the smoothing, leaving a weird looking typeface as the result. OS X's fonts look natural, just smoothed around the edges. I also find that up close, OS X's smoothing looks a little jagged (which is why I didn't like it before), but at the proper distance, it looks much better.
     
  15. iBunny macrumors 65816

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #15
    I also do not like front smoothing. Not on XP or on my iBook. Same reason I dont use Anti Alising in Games, it makes everything blury.
     
  16. Jigglelicious macrumors 6502

    Jigglelicious

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    Location:
    NYC
    #16
    Anti Aliasing used to make things blurry back when FSAA was a new technology (like on the Voodoo5). But these days FSAA is capable of making crisp, clear images without any jaggies in sight. Its really come a long way.

    With that said, let me show a few examples where I feel Cleartype is far better than OSX's font smoothing.

    This is OSX's font smoothing used on a popular computer forum, Anandtech:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the same text rendered in Windows XP using Cleartype:
    [​IMG]


    I think its obvious to see that the text in windows is far more readable and less blurry than the OSX text. The OSX text almost looks as if it is out of focus, and I have read reports of it giving people headaches from this effect.
     
  17. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #17
    It looks to me like XP is just turning off font smoothing completely for that small font size. Look at my screen grab below -- my OSX rendering looks more, to me, like your XP than your OSX.... (click for large)

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Jigglelicious macrumors 6502

    Jigglelicious

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    Apr 25, 2004
    Location:
    NYC
    #18

    Nope, font smoothing isn't being turned off. If I turn off ClearType the font will look very different. It seems that you have "Best for Flat Panel" set for the font smoothing in OSX, while I have it set to "Best for CRT". Perhaps this accounts for the difference between our fonts?
     
  19. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
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    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #19
    I do (have best for flat panel selected); I also have a minimum font size set for smoothing as 8. Anyway, though, I think it could be implemented better than it is in OS X -- don't get me wrong. I'd prefer if some intelligence was applied by the OS on what to smooth and what not to smooth, rather than asking me to set a cutoff. Ideally, I think the OS's algorithm for how/when to smooth should also take into account color relative to background. Do you think the blue-on-blue makes the anti-aliased font even harder to read? It seems to me like might.

    But, I think that most fonts, at larger sizes, on high-contrast backgrounds, are appealing smoothed. But the example you provided - of what the small text looks like for you on your display, is very difficult to read.... I have a hard time imagining why anyone would prefer that.
     
  20. GladRags thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 18, 2005
    #20
    From what I've seen, personally I think XP has a slight advantage over OS X for font smoothing. But I like neither. To me smoothed fonts look blurry and I find myself always adjusting my eyes to them.

    Still nobody with any concrete experience with performance losses when turning off font smoothing via TinkerTool? Would the same effect occur with this tweak, running the following in the command prompt:

    defaults write g Apple AntiAliasing Threshold 128
     

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