How to increase system font size?

braindog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 12, 2005
19
0
Hi everyone, I am running a 30" cinema display, and the text, especially that of the menus, can get very small. In Aperture, I have to strain to see the names of file names and menu selections. Is there any way to increase the font size system-wide without lowering my resolution? I'm not talking about the Finder font sizes--I've already done that. I've tried Tinker tool and Quartz Debug, but those are imperfect solutions. Tinkertool does not seem to have any effect, and Quartz only works for certain applications. Many programs don't run properly, such as Photoshop, and Aperture won't even start. Coming from the PC world, it seems odd that Apple does not offer these display options, especially considering their reputation for graphic design, video editing, etc.

I'm tempted to return the Quad and just hook up the cinema display to my PC. As sleek as OS X and the Quad might be, I'm not willing to go blind for it!

Any suggestions?
 

MisterMe

macrumors G4
Jul 17, 2002
10,648
29
USA
braindog said:
...

Any suggestions?
Look into the Displays preferences pane. Among other things, it allows you to change the display resolution--instantaneously.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,191
5
Adelaide, Australia
Graphic designers generally have very sharp eyesight so high resolutions (particularly on the top-of-the-line 30 inch display) are a good thing. It makes the screen more efficient in terms of how much it can show at any one time.

Whilst reducing the resolution will make things appear larger for you, it'll also look like crap because LCDs don't run non-native (maximum) resolutions particularly well, irrespective of the operating system but I think you've already worked that out. Maybe look at the Universal Access pane in the System Preferences to enable zooming. This isn't an ideal solution but it'll make some apps appear larger for you. :)

Tell us more about these faulty apps. What exactly happens? :)
 

braindog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 12, 2005
19
0
Yeah, I definitely don't want to lower the resolution because it does look like crap in a non-native mode. I tried the zooming and it's a bit cumbersome to use. Are there any plans to include scalable fonts in the future? Maybe 10.5?
 

stridey

macrumors 65816
Jan 21, 2005
1,136
0
Massachusetts, Connecticut
braindog said:
Yeah, I definitely don't want to lower the resolution because it does look like crap in a non-native mode. I tried the zooming and it's a bit cumbersome to use. Are there any plans to include scalable fonts in the future? Maybe 10.5?
I believe it's actually possible now, via TinkerTool. :D
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,634
0
braindog said:
Are there any plans to include scalable fonts in the future? Maybe 10.5?
Apparently yes. There is (buggy and limited) support in Tiger for this. If you have the Xcode tools installed, you can change the display resolution with the Quart Debug futility. Right now programs generally have to be restarted to notice resolution changes, and lots of them have built-in 72 dpi assumptions that will get in the way.

I wouldn't bet money on this feature appearing complete and working in 10.5. It would be nice if it happens, but Apple have made unfinished features go away before.
 

braindog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 12, 2005
19
0
stridey said:
I believe it's actually possible now, via TinkerTool. :D
I've tried that, but it doesn't work for most programs.

As for Quartz Debug, many programs won't even run--Aperture crashes, for example.

So I guess I'm out of luck? In that case, the Quad G5 is going back! I guess I'll be switching back to PC until Apple offers what I need. :(
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,920
171
braindog said:
Many programs don't run properly, such as Photoshop...
Well, that's a different matter and one which can probably be solved. Honestly, I'm surprised that you'd give up a quad for a PC.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,191
5
Adelaide, Australia
Blue Velvet said:
Well, that's a different matter and one which can probably be solved. Honestly, I'm surprised that you'd give up a quad for a PC.

Yeah, I made a small attempt at getting some info out of braindog but haven't got anywhere. It seems a little odd for someone to put down the cash for a Quad and a 30 inch display, complain about the menu size, and return it...
 

braindog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 12, 2005
19
0
mad jew said:
Yeah, I made a small attempt at getting some info out of braindog but haven't got anywhere. It seems a little odd for someone to put down the cash for a Quad and a 30 inch display, complain about the menu size, and return it...
Sorry, I missed your inquiry earlier. With Aperture and Quartz running, the program just refuses to start and crashes. As soon as I move it back to 1.00, Aperture works again. With Photoshop, increasing Quartz to 1.2 or 1.5 results in buggy menus, again--unusable. Since I bought the Quad and display primarily for Aperture, not having a workable solution for increasing font size kills it for me. I've scoured google for hours trying to find a solution, but it seems there are only halfway ones at this point.

My 14 days are almost up, which is why I have to make a decision on returning it.

Going back to the PC is not a big deal, especially considering that OSX86 is now running at near full-functionality, and people have even gotten programs like Final Cut and Logic to run on a PC.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,191
5
Adelaide, Australia
braindog said:
Sorry, I missed your inquiry earlier. With Aperture and Quartz running, the program just refuses to start and crashes. As soon as I move it back to 1.00, Aperture works again. With Photoshop, increasing Quartz to 1.2 or 1.5 results in buggy menus, again--unusable. Since I bought the Quad and display primarily for Aperture, not having a workable solution for increasing font size kills it for me. I've scoured google for hours trying to find a solution, but it seems there are only halfway ones at this point.

Yeah, it was only a small attempt so no need to apologise. :p

That's fair enough. What app do you use on the PC instead of Aperture?


braindog said:
Going back to the PC is not a big deal, especially considering that OSX86 is now running at near full-functionality, and people have even gotten programs like Final Cut and Logic to run on a PC.

Erm, you won't have any more luck on OSX for X86, not to mention it'll be illegal, less functional and unsupported. Plus, it won't give you larger menu sizes. :(


Aperture is a very new app and Apple are still ironing out a few bugs with it. Hopefully they'll get a fix for the Quartz problem soon though.
 

braindog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 12, 2005
19
0
mad jew said:
That's fair enough. What app do you use on the PC instead of Aperture?
Umm.. there is no PC equivalent right now :(
Aperture is incredible--I love it so far, but I can't see a damn thing!
Reverting to PC would mean going back to Capture One Pro (which is pretty decent).

Aperture is a very new app and Apple are still ironing out a few bugs with it. Hopefully they'll get a fix for the Quartz problem soon though.
I hope so. I already emailed Apple about it. Quartz works great for Firefox. I wish it would work with Adobe and Apple apps!
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,191
5
Adelaide, Australia
braindog said:
Umm.. there is no PC equivalent right now :(
Aperture is incredible--I love it so far, but I can't see a damn thing!
Reverting to PC would mean going back to Capture One Pro (which is pretty decent).

Yeah it sucks but I don't see reverting to a PC as an option, well, certainly not reverting to some X86 OSX hack.

Apart from recommending glasses ( :p ), I guess you could look around the Aperture preferences to see if there's an option to make the palettes more readable. I doubt there will be and Google has been surprisingly useless (I don't have Aperture to check for it personally). Another option may be to increase the display's contrast settings( Universal Access again), however this would seriously impinge on how you see the images in the first place. It's not really an option, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.
 

killmoms

macrumors 68040
Jun 23, 2003
3,721
13
Washington, DC
Honestly, I think the OP just needs some glasses. All of Apple's Cinema Displays have approximately the same resolution—right around 100 pixels per inch. The OS widgets are pretty much the same physical size on each display at its native (highest) resolution. The Pro apps are designed to have smaller, palette like controls so they get out of your way and let you work on the content, which is the important stuff. Either get some glasses, sit a little closer, or tough it out. Most people actually criticize Apple for their widgets being too LARGE, believe it or not. Certainly the default font sizes for menus and title bars and such is much larger than on Windows. Unless we're talking about palette menus, in which case it might be a little bit smaller.

As for why Quartz 2D Extreme scaling doesn't work right yet, that's because it's not a supported feature in Tiger. The technology is there, it's being worked on, perhaps Apple thought they could get it working within a few updates, but at this point it's pretty clear that it's not going to debut until Leopard. As for why apps crash or don't work right when you turn it on—that's because it's a non-supported feature. Developers aren't coding their apps to be compliant with its guidelines.

Seriously, I think you just need some glasses. I have never heard a single person complain about the default size of widgets on Apple's 100ppi displays. I mean, honestly. Returning a Quad and a 30 because the widgets are a bit small? Why not just do some useful work with the machine to make some money until Leopard comes out? Then you can scale things to your heart's desire.
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,634
0
It's really quite a legitimate complaint. All the interface elements are designed to be comfortable to use at 72 dpi, not 100 or more. Apple software has simply failed to keep up with current hardware realities.
 

DXoverDY

macrumors 6502a
Apr 19, 2005
810
0
SVG and Resolution Independence in 10.5 will solve this problem. however, it's at the very least a year away.

i went to the Sommersett Mall (michigan) apple store and used a 30" Cinema Display and had zero problems seeing anything. it was smaller, but the dang thing is so big it more than makes up for it.

i'd second the need for glasses. (i wear glasses :p ) so maybe that really is the issue. nothing like a good monitor to show you that you may need them.
 

decksnap

macrumors 68040
Apr 11, 2003
3,068
70
Why not just return the LCD and buy a CRT or two? Then you can change the resolution for whatever situation you need it. And get better color accuracy!
 

DXoverDY

macrumors 6502a
Apr 19, 2005
810
0
decksnap said:
Why not just return the LCD and buy a CRT or two? Then you can change the resolution for whatever situation you need it. And get better color accuracy!
indeed. i've heard good things about the dell 24" monitor. might not be 30" but it's plenty big. i'm probably going to skip the 30" and do the 24" dell... much much cheaper and i hear it's also a better display. i honestly don't care if it says dell on it.
 

Bedawyn

macrumors regular
Jul 17, 2003
161
0
Asheville, NC
iMeowbot said:
It's really quite a legitimate complaint. All the interface elements are designed to be comfortable to use at 72 dpi, not 100 or more. Apple software has simply failed to keep up with current hardware realities.
Thank you, thank you! I'm so tired of hearing that those of us who like to see what we're doing are crazy, stupid or imagining things. Folks, I already have glasses and my vision with them is better than average -- and that doesn't change the fact that the OS X system fonts are too small for me to read comfortably. In Windows, you can change the default fonts to whatever you want. On pre-X Macs, you can change the default fonts to whatever you want. In OS X, you can't. It's not a question of changing your resolution but of a GUI usability issue that Apple has chosen to ignore.
 

DXoverDY

macrumors 6502a
Apr 19, 2005
810
0
Bedawyn said:
Thank you, thank you! I'm so tired of hearing that those of us who like to see what we're doing are crazy, stupid or imagining things. Folks, I already have glasses and my vision with them is better than average -- and that doesn't change the fact that the OS X system fonts are too small for me to read comfortably. In Windows, you can change the default fonts to whatever you want. On pre-X Macs, you can change the default fonts to whatever you want. In OS X, you can't. It's not a question of changing your resolution but of a GUI usability issue that Apple has chosen to ignore.
again. it'll be fixed in 10.5 with Resolution Independent UI. you'll essentially be able to zoom the entire UI.

EDIT: guess i shouldn't say "will be fixed" but the rumor has it that resolution independent display will be implemented in 10.5, it's partially there in 10.4 so i'd imagine that it'll be in 10.5. There's no way they could increase resolution any more than they have with the 30" without going this route, so if they plan to increase display size, they'll need to get it in before then.
 

jeremy.king

macrumors 603
Jul 23, 2002
5,479
1
Fuquay Varina, NC
Just move the monitor closer to your face.

I read a 20" Dell (1680x1050) from a good 3.5-4' away and I don't have to strain my eyes to read menus and my vision, like yours, is better than average. For Finder, I adjusted the font size and I have done the same for Safari as have been suggested...
 

Bedawyn

macrumors regular
Jul 17, 2003
161
0
Asheville, NC
kingjr3 said:
Just move the monitor closer to your face.

I read a 20" Dell (1680x1050) from a good 3.5-4' away and I don't have to strain my eyes to read menus and my vision, like yours, is better than average. For Finder, I adjusted the font size and I have done the same for Safari as have been suggested...
Sorry, the work and play I do on the computer happen to involve moving around, looking at things off the monitor, looking at the other computer, etc. Staying chained 6 inches from one monitor really isn't feasible.

Changing the finder fonts and the fonts in what applications will allow it (too few do) makes the problem dealable (thank goodness, or I'd still be using 9), but it doesn't solve it. I still have to bump the font sizes two or three times every single time I open a document in Preview or Help Viewer or whatnot, instead of being able to change the default, and we can't do anything about the size of system messages or the font that appears in the Preferences window -- which wouldn't be a huge problem, except that there are approximately five million third-party apps that use that same font for more important things.

As for 10.5, it's not here now, so it's irrelevant. I've given up expecting anything out of Apple anyway. I've just gone up to Tiger in the last month, and it's two big draws, Dashboard and Spotlight, I find ho-hum and annoying, respectively. I'm coming to believe that the more hype a new OS has, the less I'm going to like it. If in 10.5 they finally do fix what wasn't broken in 9 :rolleyes:, I'll be thrilled, but until it gets here...
 

dubbz

macrumors 68020
Sep 3, 2003
2,284
0
Alta, Norway
braindog's not the only one having issues with Aperture and the font size...

Ars Technica Review said:
My only real gripe with the Aperture interface is the tiny type used throughout, like in Final Cut and DVD Studio Pro. Everywhere you look, in the dialog boxes, contextual menus and filter/keyword panes, it's a veritable 8-point type party. They try and make it less illegible by bolding up the fonts but it's really fuzzy and on my 22" monitor at 1600x1200, I'm constantly squinting to read things (and I have near-perfect vision). Maybe things look better on the twin 30" LCD setups that you see in all of Apple's user profiles but we can't all be Kevin Bacon's wedding photographer.
Link: Article p.2 (MR Thread)
 
mad jew said:
Graphic designers generally have very sharp eyesight so high resolutions (particularly on the top-of-the-line 30 inch display) are a good thing. It makes the screen more efficient in terms of how much it can show at any one time.
Haha... Our eyesight is no better than any other professions and in fact, all the hours we spend in front of monitors can cause vision problems to surface earlier in life than those that don't spend all day staring at a light emitting screen, focusing 18" away.

I had 20/15 vision when I was younger and had to get glasses at 34 or 35 as one eye had dropped to 20/40. The glasses, even though they effect just one eye, make all the difference, especially when it comes to vision fatigue. It wouldn't hurt for the poster to get his/her eyes checked.
 

Alan London

macrumors newbie
Aug 21, 2009
1
0
As a new Mac user I'm looking to solve exactly the same problem over 3 years later. As an older user with eye problems I bought a shiny iMac with a 24 inch screen thinking I could compensate for having to look at larger fonts (as I did in Windows by simply setting the defaults. I was appalled to find that system fonts cannot be reset on Mac.

Anybody know if Snow Leopard will bring a solution?
 
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