Office for mac 2008, low dpi, is there a fix?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by snessiram, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. snessiram macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2008

    On a Mac running Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 (or earlier), a page at 100% is displayed rather small compared to a Windows pc running Office at that same 100%.

    I understand what the reason behind this is (72 vs 96 dpi), but is there a fix?
    The mac version is simply hard to read and zooming to 133% isn't exactly a pretty solution...

  2. daneoni macrumors G4


    Mar 24, 2006
    Yeah you're just gonna have to zoom or try Pages but IIRC thats even worse
  3. nadyne macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2004
    Mountain View, CA USA
    What don't you like about setting the zoom level?

  4. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    What size of screens are you using between the two computers, and what resolution are the two computers running at on those displays?
  5. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    Yeah.. I can't understand that either. Zooming in doesn't reduce the font quality, so I don't see how it is an issue.
  6. portent macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2004
    The fact that you end up fighting with your colleagues, because the zoom setting that looks right for you is huge for them, and the setting that looks right for them is tiny for you?

    Or perhaps the fact that it's unintuitive for "150%" to be "actual size?"
  7. nadyne macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2004
    Mountain View, CA USA
    As you mentioned, it's a difference in how the two operating systems display text at various screen resolutions. We could try to "fix" it by changing things behind the scenes, but that would likely result in users being cranky with us for doing anything like that.

  8. snessiram thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2008
    I'm sorry for the very late reaction.

    Apart from that it's not very handy when working together with Windows users, I find that images don't look as good when zoomed in at 150%...

    @trainguy77: Virtualbox, although it doesn't matter as that's not what I'm talking about.
  9. maccompaq macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2007
    When I transfer a Word document from Windows to Mac, I simply set Word for Mac to display at 125%, and it works great.
  10. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    The resolution of the screen can affect how big or small things are on screen.
  11. snessiram thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2008
    @trainguy77: I know that the dpi of the screen can affect how big or small things are on the screen. I'm simply saying that that is not the problem I'm talking about. It is a fact that a Word page at 100% in OS X is smaller (as in pixels) than in Windows. I'm sorry if my reaction seemed offensive as it wasn't meant that way :) .

    @all: Yes, zooming in helps for text. Pictures are another case.

    Lets assume we have a picture of a schema that has a dpi of 72. Place it in a document on Windows and make sure that the picture zoom level is 100%.
    Now open that document on OS X with Word having a document zoom level of 100%. Suddenly the picture looks unsharp and has a picture zoom level of 75%...

    To view the picture sharp again, you have to do one of the following:
    1) Zoom the document in to about 133%
    2) Change the picture zoom level to 100%
    3) Change the dpi of the picture to 96 dpi, set the picture zoom level to 100% and the document zoom level to 133%

    Option 1 and 3 make sure that the proportions are kept, but at a document zoom level of 100% the picture will be unsharp.
    Option 2 screws up the proportions but at a document zoom level of 100%, the picture will be sharp.

    For compatibility, it seems that mac users should:
    1) Work at a 133% document zoom level
    2) Make sure that pictures have a dpi of 96 OR set the zoom level to 75% for 72 dpi pictures

    I don't find this really user-friendly... or maybe I'm missing something?
  12. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    You do know what you PERCEIVE as smaller is due to higher screen DPI?

    Get a 24" 1680x1050 dpi screen for the Mac and see whether 100% is still "smaller".
  13. snessiram thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2008
    @Consultant: I think you're misunderstanding me. If I open the same document on both a Windows pc and Mac with the exact same screen (and thus exact same dpi), the document should in theory be the same size.

    Now let me make the problem more clear. If you take a screenshot of the same document viewed at 100% on Windows and on OS X, the document itself (Print Layout) will be about 795 px wide on Windows and 595 px wide on OS X. That means the size in pixels in OS X is about 75% that of the Windows version.

    To take this further: if you type a T in Times New Roman 10pt on Windows, it will be displayed with a height of 9 px, while the same letter will be displayed with a height of 7 px on OS X.

    So buying a screen with a lower dpi doesn't solve the problem. Yes, it will physically display the same document bigger, but the amount of pixels used to display the text does not change (and thus neither does the clarity of small text). Besides, buying such a screen would also mean that text in all other applications would be displayed bigger, which I don't need/want.

    For text, simply zooming in "solves" the problem, but pictures is another case as I explained in my previous post.

    @nadyne: Could you explain why users would be cranky? As portent mentioned, it just seems weird to me that one has to zoom in just to display the document at a "normal size", let alone the problem with pictures...
  14. nadyne macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2004
    Mountain View, CA USA
    For those users who care deeply about their monitors and their DPI on those monitors, doing anything that will make it look "right" to you on your monitor will result in it not looking right for other users who are using different monitors with different DPIs. We can't change how the two OSes handle screen resolutions, and trying to put something in place on top of how the OS handles it is a great way to make Mac users tell us that we're overriding the OS settings and thus doing the wrong thing.

  15. elmimmo macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2002
    It's not anymore even 72 vs 96. PPI resolutions in displays nowadays vary enormously. See Notebook LCD monitor comparison or Desktop LCD screen comparison

    You see it small at 100% because programmers at Microsoft are lazy bastards (edit: as much as some of Adobe's or even Apple's). Apple even told them how to do it: Technical Q&A QA1217 How can I programmatically determine the DPI of the current video mode? (sorry Nadine, but it is 2009, you know. At any rate, 72 ppi will ALWAYS be wrong)

    In their defense, even developers of software where pixel-perfect accuracy is essential such as Adobe's InDesign or Illustrator still seem to be using 14" CRTs (kudos to the Acrobat team, though, which guesses automatically or Photoshop's which at least allows for a custom setting –do this people even talk to each other?).

    Even Apple sometimes does not eat their own dog food as revealed by how microscopic things are displayed in TextEdit using menu Format > Wrap to page. (Preview does just fine; I do not have Pages, so do not know if that team ever thought about how much a page actually measures)
  16. Sam Gilbert macrumors newbie

    Jan 21, 2011
    Hi Nadine,

    Sorry to raise this old thread, however the problem is still in Office 2011, so it's still pertinent.

    I don't follow the logic, sorry. I'm part of an IT Management company and I regularly advise clients not to use Office 2011 (or 2008) in daily business due to the zooming problem.

    The businesses I consult to don't care about DPI, or PPI, and don't even really know what it is, however when they've used Office for Mac, they've been annoyed by the Zoom problem.

    Using "following the Apple design guidelines" as an argument doesn't really fly either, as Office for Mac doesn't really follow the guidelines either.

    The fact is, early on, Mac and Windows settled on different PPI settings. In my opinion, application developers should respect the individual platforms. Also, I have not yet encountered another app on the Mac which doesn't use 72 PPI, except for Office. Of course, there could be one that I'm unaware of, but this fact to point out that it is highly irregular.

    At the very least, I would strongly recommend the option within the office applications to change the DPI (for all apps).

    At best, it would be great to see Office fully respect the Apple platform and design guidelines.

    Please, listen to your users. At least that there are two different schools of thought, at best that nobody cares about PPI and just wants it to work as expected.

    Thank you,
  17. jacg macrumors 6502a


    Jan 16, 2003
    Bad luck, Sam. If MS cared about users like you and me, why would Office 2011, 2010 and 2007 be unusable, Office 2008 be slow & clunky and Office 2004 flaky (but the best of a bad bunch)? I loath Office and the lack of progress towards an actual Mac app since 2004 is disappointing and the loss of usability is shameful.
  18. Detektiv-Pinky macrumors 6502a


    Feb 25, 2006
    Berlin, Germany
    Does anybody know what happened to nadyne the Microsoft rep that used to hang around MacRumors and had good tips on how to solve certain issues with Office?

    It seems that her last post to the forum happened in October 2010...

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