Increase System Font Size - How?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by RZetlin, Sep 8, 2007.

  1. readytobuy macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2012
    lack of system font size scaling delaying purchase

    I was about to make the leap from PC to iMac yesterday but the salesman in the Apple Store did not know how to increase the system font. Luckily I came home to do further research before buying, though I had assumed that some tweak must exist for such large screen options. Do you think it is worth risking buying an iMac on the rumour of 3 size choices to come, ie will this be an upgrade for existing operating systems or would it only be available on future machines with a yet to be released operating system? Is there any way of confirming the rumour? I currently use a Logitech mouse (on PC/XP) with excellent zoom features, but from reading the manufacturer's web page FAQs I'm not sure it will work with iMac. If they come back to me to confirm it does then I will let everyone know of this workaround option.
  2. lugesm macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
    So, where did you find this 'rumor' about 3 text sizes?
  3. slapple macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2008

    "In line with previous rumors, the machine is said to include a "Retina" display, a development that has been rumored for some time and for which evidence has been showing up in builds of OS X Lion and Mountain Lion. According to the report's source, OS X will simply offer a set of resolution quality options for the new machine ("such as big, small, or optimal") to allow users taking advantage of this new "HiDPI" support to select their desired combination of sharpness and resolution."
  4. lugesm macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
  5. fondy44 macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2012
    "will this be an upgrade for existing operating systems or would it only be available on future machines with a yet to be released operating system?"

    @readytobuy: Even if the display is physically capable, that's a tough call to make. It wasn't until the newer generations of iOS devices that Apple made homescreen wallpaper an option, despite the jailbreak community implementing the feature pretty early on. I've read articles claiming there are no hardware limitations keeping the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 & 3 from running Siri but Apple continues to keep it exclusive to the iPhone 4S. For most people, an iMac is a pretty expensive investment. If it was me, I'd hold off until I was sure it was capable of meeting my needs or at least until Apple promises backward compatibility.
  6. readytobuy macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2012
    all in one PC alternative to iMac

    Thanks for opinion. Inclined to agree, but desperate for a machine and it has to be an all in one. Any suggestions? I run a small business from home which isn't very demanding, but also enjoy photo editing so need good graphics, memory, speed etc and preferably built in camera for Skype.
  7. TwoBorzoi macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2012
    I bet all the developers are 25 year olds with great vision. Probably think the 2 pt font on an iPhone is plenty big. They need to hire some 65 y.o. dudes with poor vision for their next development cycle.
  8. danelfin macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2011
    it maybe only for the Retina,and the fontsize still so small in other macs。
  9. slapple macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2008
    Anyone know if it's only for the Retina? I guess we'll know when the next Lion update comes out. I don't see any reason why they can't make it work with non-Retina MBPs.
  10. danelfin macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2011
    If you go to local apple store, you will know this funtion only for rmbp(lion) now, because rMBP can not change the resolution. It dosen't work on the others.
  11. slapple macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2008
    That's true. But I wonder if that's just because only the RMBPs have the updated Lion right now. I wonder whenever the next update to Lion (or when Mountain Lion is released) is available for non-Retina MBPs, if they will have the support for multiple resolutions.
  12. StrudelTurnover, Jul 1, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012

    StrudelTurnover macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2008
    I feel like it's related to the reason that non-retina Chrome looks so bad.

    That screenshot with the pixel-doubled type is indeed text on the chrome site, not graphics. If the rendering system has always been based on raster and not vector (even for fonts!?!), and support is dependent per-application rather than the OS layer... no wonder it's been a gong show for this long. It would be just as bad as scaling up the windows UI when apps only have 16x16 icons. It looks awful.

    I've only used a handful of iPad iOS apps. Does pixel doubling there treat font text like a raster image as well? :(
  13. blow45 macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    The reason they can't with non retina mbps is threefold:

    a. they lack the resolution to have a workable surface after being retinased, i.e. divide current res by two to get real res.
    b. they lack the gpu power to render at twice the resolution then half it and adjust it to apparent res, which is what the rmbp is doing and not that well it seems so far, that is some users are reporting lags due to this.
    c. non retina displays don't have pixels that tightly packed together and thus adjusting in the above way will create fuzzy text, it will be like setting it to a non native res as you can currently do.

    At least that's my take on it, anyone can disagree or correct me if I got it wrong. :)
  14. TwoBorzoi macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2012
    There is a HiDPI option hidden in Lion. You can activate it with some complicated X-Code thing, or you can go to Avatron and download the free client for Air Display. It will let you enable the HiDPI mode. In your display resolutions, there will be an hidpi choice. BUT it will be for 1/2 the pixel count of your screen. Everything will be sharp, not fuzzy(!), but you have 1/4 the screen area. This is stupid! As they go to really high pixel density with Retna, it is the way, i guess. And I guess that the rest of us, who have sunk $2K into these machines with 27" screens, are screwed. I'm recommending to friends who are long time Windows users and ask about my new mac, that they not even consider making the leap until Apple learns how to create a useable UI! And I though the UI was one of Apple's high points!! Give me Windoze any day.
  15. TwoBorzoi macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2012
    I've heard that the logo for the next OS X release is a mountain lion wearing a pair of magnifying glasses!. No sh$t!
  16. blow45 macrumors 68000

    Jan 18, 2011
    I completely agree, I have been recommending windoze to my friends too, apple has dropped the ball for a very, very long time on this one. And to my mind it's clear they want to push for new mac purchases via retina displays that will be able to set some font customization to the detriment of screen real estate of course.

    I can see absolutely no reason for example why the menu bar can't have user adjusted size for its font. It's a piece of cake to implement it really.
  17. danelfin macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2011
    Does anyone know this topic fixed in mountain Lion?
  18. cupcup macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2012
    I am really unhappy with the 13" 2012 macbook air. Everything is tiny on this screen. It is just impossible to work with the iwork. I would like to know how they feel when they ship this bad quality softwares. I think I'll return this crap as soon as possible and tell everyone I know to stay away from macbook airs. I'll better buy a Samsung series 9 with windows professional. If you did not decide yet what to buy, do yourself a favor and do not buy a macbook air 13".


    I'm using mountain lion and I could not find a solution yet. They better be fast or this product is going to return to where it comes from.
  19. fondy44 macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2012
    Doesn't appear to be, or I can't find the fix.

    I use the 13" MBP primarily for content consumption so it's tolerable, but considering the price, I shouldn't have to settle for tolerable. If you guys with the 27" iMacs are having trouble, I'd stay the hell away from this thing. I tried to read the EULA for Mountain Lion last night. Ten minutes in and it felt like I was being stabbed in the eyeballs.

    One thing I have noticed with Mountain Lion: dropping the resolution from 1280x800 to 1024x768 now ever so slightly increases overall font size, albeit at the expense of screen width. With Lion, all it seemed to do was vertical letterbox the screen.

    The whole thing makes no sense to me. Statistically speaking, it's the older generations whom I'd think would be more financially capable of paying the 'Apple tax' - the same group of people whose vision would make large fonts, etc more of a necessity.
  20. atsad macrumors newbie

    Aug 28, 2012
    me also in same mode

    still unable to do so...... now just changed resolution of the screen.:(
  21. fondy44 macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2012
    This whole thing doesn't really make much sense to me. I was at Best Buy yesterday checking out the 27" iMac and the fonts/UI items didn't really look much larger than what I see on my 13" MBP. This is the issue from my viewpoint.
    There are two main reasons you would want a bigger monitor:
    1) to increase the size of your desktop (i.e. give you more room for multiple open windows).
    2) to increase the size of items on the screen.

    There really isn't much point in upgrading a 24"-wide TV where the picture fills the entire 24" width of the screen to say, a 50" TV if the picture remains 24"-wide but centered inside the bigger screen. The same holds true for a PC.

    If you're gonna give me the option to plug my 13" laptop into a 26" external monitor (twice the size of the laptop screen), shouldn't you assume that maybe I'd like the option to double the size of everything on the display?

    If you simply want more screen real estate, you already have the option of using multiple monitors. But if you just want to double the physical size of items being displayed, it's not really do-able (at least not with the options that I've tried).

    And why does lowering the resolution only center the picture inside of the display? That makes no sense to me. If I lower the resolution on my PC, I still have a full screen to work with. On the Mac, I lose about 1.5" on either side of the picture.
  22. Beta Particle macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2012
    Your 13″ MacBook Pro has a 1280×800 resolution, which gives it a pixel density of 114 PPI.

    A 27″ iMac has a resolution of 2560×1440, which gives it a pixel density of 109 PPI.

    This means that everything will be rendered at roughly the same size on both displays, but due to the higher resolution of the 27″ display, you will have significantly more workspace.

    Actually, if you enable HiDPI mode on Lion/Mountain Lion, you will get exactly that.

    Multiple monitors are a terrible solution. For one thing, OS X does not have very good support for them. Your dock and menu bar only appear on the primary display (or in some setups, on separate displays!) and there have been numerous studies that have shown it to be considerably more efficient to work on one large monitor than have several smaller ones. The second display is less functional, and ends up being neglected, or used to display relatively static information such as leaving an email client or iTunes open, rather than actually making use of it for work.

    That said, with Lion/Mountain Lion, you can enable “HiDPI” mode, which will render everything on-screen at 2× scale. This maintains perfect sharpness, but makes everything much larger.

    With most current Macs, it is not feasible to use this option though. A 1280×800 MacBook Pro would only have an equivalent workspace of 640×400, which is sub-VGA resolution.

    A 27″ iMac is where it starts to become a realistic option, however. At that resolution, your 2560×1440 display now has a 1280×720 equivalent workspace, which is enough to actually be productive.

    As higher density displays are introduced, this becomes less of a problem. At 220 PPI, the Retina MacBook Pro has a high enough pixel density, that non-integer scaling becomes feasible without severely compromising image quality, which is why it offers more than just 1× or 2× scaling—it offers equivalents to 1024×768 and 1280×800 for people that wish to make the UI larger, and 1680×1050 or 1920×1200 for people that wish to make the UI smaller, all while maintaining a sharp image.
    Unlike CRTs which were analogue displays that actually scanned the image with an electron beam at the resolution you select, flat panels are fixed-pixel devices. This means that they only have one resolution they can display images at.

    With a CRT, when you changed the resolution option it actually changed the resolution of the image being displayed.

    With flat panels, when you change the resolution, you are still displaying the image at its native resolution, but have to scale up the picture, which makes it blurry and generally looks crap. If you choose to avoid scaling the image, it will retain its sharpness, but will no longer fill the screen.
  23. JohnDory macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2012
    I just got and turned on my big beautiful new 27', and the icons and text across all applications were soooooo small - very clear, but not really workable.

    The first thing I do is try to enlarge everything, and I stumble upon this thread from years ago...

    The default resolution on my machine was 'Best for built in display'. Yet Firefox webpages only show as a column on the left, leaving 2/3 the screen blank.

    I reduced the resolution (Sys Preferences, Display, Resolution, Scaled, 2048 x 1152), and now things are the right size, but I think there is a difference in sharpness.

    I'd like to at least be able to at least see video and photo in full resolution without having to change preferences each time(?).
  24. fondy44 macrumors newbie

    Apr 22, 2012
    I think what you're experiencing is resolution shock. :) If you look at the properties of a DVD, the size of the video 'picture' that it puts out is around 640-720 pixels wide by 480 pixels tall. If you're playing a DVD at its native resolution on a monitor set to 2048 pixels wide by 1152 pixels tall, that's going to leave a lot of empty space on your desktop. Even BluRay-quality video (1920X1080) isn't big enough to natively fill a screen of that resolution. Once 4K (a.k.a. UltraHD) takes off, you'll be able to get video resolutions of 3840X2160 which will be more than enough to natively fill your screen without the need to zoom or stretch the picture.

    If you want a good example of what I'm talking about, pull up a channel on your 1080p HD television that is still being broadcast in SD. Find the button on your remote to put the TV in 'native or 1:1' mode. You'll end up with a small picture in the center of your TV screen, not because your new 50" flat panel TV is so much bigger than your old 19" CRT, but because the picture being transmitted on that channel (640X480) doesn't have enough pixels to completely fill your new TV's high-def screen (1920X1080).

    You can look around in your video player's settings for an option to fill the screen though the picture won't be as sharp. You can also adjust the size of your browser window and use CMD+ and CMD- to zoom in and out of web pages to help fill all of that empty space. If you don't mind installing and using Windows 7, it has had an option for years that allows you to increase DPI to 125% or 150% to help with the small fonts and icons. Just beware that not all third party programs work with that setting.
  25. ms.mousette, Mar 25, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014

    ms.mousette macrumors newbie


    Jun 6, 2009
    Tinkertool, APHont and XtraFinder can help to improve things

    I sent the usual letter of complaint to Apple a few years ago. In the meantime, in case it helps others, these tools have helped me to make my Mac more user-friendly and accessible:

    1. Tinkertool:

    Already mentioned several times by others in this thread. Tinkertool is free and it works. You can use Tinkertool to increase font size and/or boldness and it helps with many of the problems mentioned.

    2. APHont:

    Font for low vision from American Printing House for the Blind!

    APHont helps improve readability of print materials too.

    "APHont™ (pronounced Ay'-font), was developed by APH specifically for low vision readers. APHont embodies characteristics that have been shown to enhance reading speed, comprehension, and comfort for large print users.

    The entire APHont Suite is available free-of-charge to qualified users for non-commercial purposes. The APHont Suite consists of Regular, Bold, Italic, and Italic Bold. You must certify use for or by a person with a visual impairment before downloading."

    You have to fill in a form to register to download APHont.

    There is no box to tick, "My Mac has made me blind!" or "I saved up all my beer money for a year to buy a Mac and now I just want to sit in the corner and cry!". There ought to be.

    Some people will HATE APHont - because it ruins the delightful look of the Mac UI. Others will love it - because they can actually see the text again.

    It makes sense to use APHont along with Tinkertool because APHont takes up less space than other fonts at the same font size whilst remaining more legible.

    Watch out that that you do not make the font for "Labels" too big in Tinkertool - with any font.

    I would recommend starting at 14. If that looks OK but is still not quite big enough, increase it a point at a time, opening and closing the normal System Preferences app each time to view the results.

    View the the System Preferences "Show All" pane to work out the largest, viable size without the icon labels overlapping, which makes a right pig's ear out of it.

    These screenshots give a rather inadequate impression of the difference that using Tinkertool plus APHont can make. They do not show all the benefits but do give a flavour of the changes at the particular settings shown in the second screenshot (these work for me, others might work better for you:

    Before TinkerTool and APHont:


    After TinkerTool and APHont (my settings):


    3. XtraFinder
    To make Finder even easier to see I also use XtraFinder set to light font on a dark background.

    Example screenshot:


    I hope this info helps someone else cope with the complete embuggerance that is lack of font scaling. There are alternatives to all of these tools - this is just a set up that I find helpful.


    ps. 26-08-2014 I don't know where my screenshots images have gone! They were attached to this message but I cannot see them now so I don't suppose anyone else can either.

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