Font issue in OS X - Comparison to Windows

Discussion in 'macOS' started by marckent, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. marckent macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    #1
    I know how much people hate to compare OS X to Windows, it is just a different OS and people should keep that in mind that they do have a different workflow and so on.

    What stresses me the most from switching to a Mac is the blurry/fuzzy font. First I thought it's just my machine, then I tested it in an Apple store and it's not only my MacBook Air.

    Please take a look at the following two screenshot, both made on my MacBook Air. One with OS X (Mavericks) and the other one running Parallels Desktop with Windows 8.

    OS X:
    Link: http://abload.de/img/macspsb9.png

    [​IMG]

    Windows:
    Link: http://abload.de/img/windowsr8s3j.png

    [​IMG]


    I think you can see the biggest difference where the "Front Page" is marked in the navigation of the website. I have tried all sorts of tweaks to get a better looking font (tried all the font smoothing values from 1-4 in the terminal with reboots), because I can't believe that this is how good designers work with. Are they all using Windows now?

    Do you have any ideas how to get a less super fat looking font with OS X?
     
  2. chown33 macrumors 604

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    Aug 9, 2009
    #2
    It doesn't look like a font-smoothing issue to me (anti-aliasing, sub-pixel or not). It looks like completely different typefaces, or different weights.

    Another place where the difference is very noticeable is the word "Yosemite" under the "Upcoming" heading on the right. I mention this one because unlike the "Front Page", which is rendered white on dark, the "Yosemite" is rendered black on light. Also, the problem is most noticeable only on the extra-bold weight. Looking at the normal weights, those seem more like font-smoothing differences between the two OSes.

    I should point out that even if the fonts on both OSes have the same name, this is no guarantee that the actual outlines (or bitmaps) are identical.


    As a way to help others replicate what you're seeing, please post exactly what font-smoothing parameters were active when your screenshots were made.

    Also, please identify exactly which browsers are appearing in each screenshot (name and exact version), and exactly which OS version.
     
  3. marckent thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 22, 2014
    #3
    Font-smoothing parameters: In the preferences the checkbox LCD Font-Smoothing is enabled (doesn't make any big difference if enabled or disbaled!).

    The browser used for the screenshot is Chrome version 35. But there is no difference if I use Safari version 7.0.4.

    The OS X version is: 10.9.3.


    Can you post a sreenshot of the macrumors startpage on your mac?
     
  4. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #4
    What you are seeing is perfectly normal and a very common complaint of new OS X users coming from Windows. They do appear fuzzier on OS X because of the different way OS X renders fonts from Windows.

    The short version of this is OS X purportedly renders the fonts true to how they should look, even at the expense of a little blur, where Windows makes them crisper even perhaps at the expense of the font maybe not looking exactly like it should.

    Here is an article that talks a little about this. In the article are some links to other pages on the same topic. If you search for "os x vs. windows font rendering" you will find much heated debate over this. :)
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    Boston
    #5
    That's one aspect I'm not all that jazzed up about with OS X. I switch back and forth between Windows and OS X and how OS X renders fonts is something that I wished it did better.
     
  6. Janichsan macrumors 65816

    Janichsan

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    Oct 23, 2006
    #6
    That's the point: what is "better"? As pointed out in Weaselboy's link, OS X sticks truer to the WYSIWYG approach than Windows does. A lot of people would define that as "better".
     
  7. marckent thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 22, 2014
    #7
    What you get where? On a piece of paper? If that's the case: Why paper? If somebody never prints anything, why should it look like that?

    And what you are saying does not fit for the retina display users, because they see it more like windows! What about that?
     
  8. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #8
    What's better text that isn't rendered fuzzy. I prefer crispness. YMMV but that's my take on it.
     
  9. Janichsan, Jun 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014

    Janichsan macrumors 65816

    Janichsan

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    Oct 23, 2006
    #9
    Not only paper, everywhere. Windows' font rendering depends a lot on the resolution, in both ways that term is used generally: pixel count and pixel density. OS X's way of font rendering is more consistent on various resolutions.

    As Retina display user: what about what? OS X uses the same method of font rendering no matter if it's on a HiDPI screen or not. If the same text is viewed on a normal DPI screen and a Retina screen, it will look more or less the same under OS X regarding size, width and letter-spacing ("fuzziness" aside). The same can not be said for Windows.

    That's what I meant: "better" is purely subjective in this case. You prefer crispness, others consistency.
     
  10. 53kyle macrumors 65816

    53kyle

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    Sebastopol, CA
    #10
    I personally think that the windows font looks jagged and uneven, or maybe that's just me.
     
  11. marckent thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 22, 2014
    #11
    That's not true. If you know how crisp fonts look then you will notice a difference of a MacBook Air 11" and thunderbolt display


    True, but people love the way how the fonts look on the retina display. And how does it look? Right! Way more crisp and cleanly! And the point is: Windows offers a more retina feeling for fonts on non-retina displays! No matter what resolution, as long as it's set to native.

    What you are saying is that a retina display is crap. I compared my MacBook Air to a retina MacBook Pro and Windows running in a VM. The retina MacBook Pro fonts look more like Windows handles the font. And the MacBook Air fonts look like a Windows running not in a native resolution.

    I hope that font rendering is better with the Yosemite final release.

    Can any non-retina display user show me a screenshot from the macrumors startpage running Yosemite?
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #12
    Yup, using office, particularly Excel is so much better in windows due to how the text is rendered. There's other differences due to MS not really providing a lot of functionality in office for the mac, but visually speaking I find working on spreadsheets in windows to be more visually appealing
     
  13. Janichsan, Jun 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014

    Janichsan macrumors 65816

    Janichsan

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    #13
    I get the feeling you are willfully misunderstanding me. At no point I said or even implied Retina displays are "crap". When I talk about more consistent font rendering on OS X, I do not talk about crispness, but about size and spacing. I thought that should have been clear by now.

    Of course fonts are crisper on higher resolution screens. And yes, Windows does render fonts crisper at lower resolutions - but at the expense of consistency of size and spacing. As a result, it can happen that text (especially the spaces between letters) appears rougher or more uneven on Windows, as 53kyle mentions.
     
  14. marckent thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 22, 2014
    #14
    Ok sorry for that, I didn't include size and spacing of the font into your statements. What I said about the retina displays was a conclusion from me of your declaration for good fonts.

    I can tell you that you will never find any Windows user complaining about consistency of size and spacing (unless you're not a designer, they play in another league). And you said it yourself, "it can happen", but you probably wont even notice it. What happens in OS X is nothing like "it can happen", it is always there! I tried to give the OS X over 1 month time to get used to it, but as soon as I return to a Windows desktop I notice how much better it is for my eyes to work with. Have you ever worked with Windows for a few days?

    I love OS X for many reasons, I wish the font problem for non-retina displays could be solved with an option.
     
  15. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #15
    This is one of the reasons why I can't work with Windows anymore — the Mac text rendering is so much nicer and the Windows fonts look very ugly in comparison to me. I am not a designer, but I work with text a lot — the way OS X does it gives me a better reading experience. The font rendering system of OS X results in a smooth, uniform text, while text on Windows looks irregular and jaggy to me.

    Of course, this is a question of preference and experience. I never noticed how crappy Windows font rendering is until I got a Mac (because I didn't have any comparison). And I had to get used to the text on Mac first.

    As explained in this thread, there is no 'problem'. Windows and OS X simply have different approach. OS X attempts to render fonts as they were intended to be rendered by the font designer. At a lower resolution displays this might result in some blurriness because of imperfect pixel boundaries (and as you note yourself, this is 'fixed' with retina displays because they offer true physical subpixel rendering). On the other hand, Windows attempts to render all text crispy by snapping it to nearest pixel, which can distort the font features. It is difficult to objectify what is 'better' on a normal screen (again, I believe OS X makes it better readable, but it can be just me). On a retina screen, OS X approach is the superior one, without any discussion.
     
  16. Janichsan macrumors 65816

    Janichsan

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    Oct 23, 2006
    #16
    I actually work with Windows almost every day. While I agree with you that on Windows the text is usually sharper (Retina displays aside), I also tend to notice that it often looks somewhat irregular and oddly sized. By the way, I feel this also holds true for Windows on HiDPI displays.

    I'm with leman on this: text on OS X "feels" smoother and better readable for me. I guess this is a bit of a matter of what you are used to. I always was primarily a Mac user and hence are used to the Mac way of font rendering. If you have been socialised with Windows, you might prefer the Windows way.
     
  17. afsnyder macrumors 65816

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    Jan 7, 2014
    #17
    Have you also considered display pixel density and the resolution in which the screenshot is captured?
     
  18. marckent thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 22, 2014
    #18
    I said in the first post they are both from my MacBook Air. Windows running in a VM. Both OS'ses running the same resolution on the same screen/machine.
     
  19. afsnyder macrumors 65816

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    Jan 7, 2014
    #19
    Oh, my bad. Didn't catch that. On my Macbook Pro retina, all the text is crisp as ever. I had a windows laptop before with a low resolution (1366x something). Anyway, the newer MacBooks should look much better with Apple's version of font smoothing.
     
  20. marckent thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 22, 2014
    #20
    Yes, the newer MacBook "PRO's" with retina rock, the fonts there are crisp. But on the MacBook Air's and any other non-retina screen the fonts are not crisp. They are nice lined and whatever, but blurry as hell.
     
  21. F-bone macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2014
    #21
    Hi guys,

    Interesting read. Ex-windows user (totally no windows computer at all-except for some work-related apps), non-retina macbook pro.

    I can understand Apple's approach to font rendering and if you look at it in an "artistic" way they are correct - and this becomes obvious when you own a retina macbook - it does look good.

    Then I am not an artist and I prefer the way windows does font smoothing. Thus I would like to know if there is a system wide "hack" to make OSX font rendering look exactly like Windows. I do not care if this is "right" or "wrong" I just trust what my eyes and brain like.

    I am sure that when I switch to a retina macbook this requirement will no longer be, but for the time being I am not satisfied with the OSX approach.

    Currently I have used this command:
    defaults -currentHost write -g AppleFontSmoothing -int [x]

    where x=4 (1-4 allowed values), no brackets needed and the result to font rendering is closer to my liking but not 100%.

    Any suggestions are very welcome.

    BR,
    George
     

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