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ClearType:

I just had my Windows configuration reset, and I noticed how clunky many of the displayed fonts looked -- darker, bulkier, and generally less pleasant to look at than before.

Then I remembered that I had ClearType set, and needed to reset it. Fortunately, our invaluable tech support people were able to remind me how to do it: Right-click on the desktop, and then click on Properties / Appearance / Effects / Smooth Edges / ClearType. (At least that's how it's done on my Windows XP office system.)

With ClearType on, things look much nicer than with the default setting. I'm sure it's not for everyone -- the results may vary with screen size, operating system, and of course your personal aesthetic preference -- but I suggest you check it out.

jr:
Wow, It's umm, different. Don't know if I like yet, but it seems like its making me blind. I'll give it a couple of days see if my eyes get used to it. The letters do look nicer with ClearType on.
2.27.2006 1:07pm
Brandonks (mail) (www):
Aggod tip, but I'm a radical - Linux user here. Favorite flavor? Ubuntu Linux

It's free, open source, and has a great support community.
2.27.2006 1:10pm
Robert Cote (mail) (www):
Ubuntu holds my 190Gb iTunes library in a 1.6Ghz Celeron in the closet. A serious, no nonsense operating system. I recommend Novell Linux for completeness and ease for non-techie clients who ask. Still I get all my work done on the Macs. I make a good living keeping Widows machines from blowing up and an enjoyable living fine tuning OS X. Widows people are process oriented and Mac people are results oriented. It never ceases to amaze me that people who have a service contract for their copiers don't value Windows support and will even try to fix their PCs with no idea what they are doing. Mac people can do the math and have no problem with $88/hr.

Mr. Volkh, how much time did you spend fumbling around with this issue and how much overhead does your IT support cost? One of the things I find is that many facilities don't include total costs in their Widows purchases.
2.27.2006 1:37pm
CEB:
Looks great--thanks for the tip.
2.27.2006 1:41pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Get a Mac. I work all day on a PC -- come home to a Mac. It's like driving a luxury car after spending 10 hours trucking.
2.27.2006 1:41pm
TRC:
Well, you never know what you might find on Volokh. Here's a link to the relevant MS web site.

Clear Type looks like PDF document.
2.27.2006 1:45pm
Urijah (mail):
Some suggestions:

Try the Cleartype Tuner to tweak it to your tastes. Note that Cleartype in general is really only for LCDs. If you like the effect on your CRT though, go for it.

If you have an LCD, make sure you're using it at its native resolution. (Right click on desktop, choose "Properties", select the "settings" tab, move the "screen resolution" slider all the way to the right.

If the fonts seem too small now, go to the appearance tab (Right click on desktop, choose "Properties", go to the "Appearance" tab) and choose a font size of large or extra large.
2.27.2006 1:49pm
Tom Anger (mail) (www):
I like it, but it's best viewed while wearing sunglasses.
2.27.2006 2:00pm
Bryan DB:
Hey, that's a definite improvement. Just as good as my Mac always looks. Well, almost as good.
2.27.2006 2:06pm
Tester (mail):
test
2.27.2006 2:08pm
johnw:
It's simply amazing.

Not Cleartype, although that's quite nice also.
What's amazing is how tiny the bait needs to be to get the Mac trolls to lunge out from under their bridge.

Just kidding, Linux trolls can be just as hungry.
2.27.2006 2:44pm
RPS (mail):

If you have an LCD, make sure you're using it at its native resolution. (Right click on desktop, choose "Properties", select the "settings" tab, move the "screen resolution" slider all the way to the right.

If the fonts seem too small now, go to the appearance tab (Right click on desktop, choose "Properties", go to the "Appearance" tab) and choose a font size of large or extra large.


Why is this? I don't need a real technical explanation, I'm just wondering. I set it up like that but even with the font size set at extra large, the fonts were still way too small for my taste (resolution was 1280 by 1024). Normally the resolution is 1024 by 768. But at that resolution cleartype is interesting but also seems a little blurry to me. My monitor is a 19 inch lcd.
2.27.2006 3:04pm
Robert Cote (mail) (www):
RPS,
Anything except "native resolution" (or numerical multiple) will loook fuzzy. I try to explain that it is like looking through a wire screen. If there's enough difference twixt what you are looking at and the screen; no problem. If the two things are close, then lots of visual artifacts. Running 1280x1024 screens at 1024x768 is one of the latter.
2.27.2006 3:35pm
Robert Cote (mail) (www):
Johnw has it all wrong.

A guy goes into the doctor; "Doc, it hurts when I do this."
Doctor replies; "Don't do that."
Johnw would comment, "Damn doctors always trying to tell people how to stay healthy!"

No trolling by the doctor.
2.27.2006 3:47pm
Urijah (mail):
RPS:

Why is what? Why should you use the native resolution for an LCD, or why are the fonts so small?

Answer to 1) is that CRTs are not fixed resolution displays; several phosphors (glowing screen dots) make up a pixel (picture element With LCDs one pixel (actually three subpixels, Red-Blue-Green) makes up the pixel you see at the native resolution. If you don't use the native resolution, the monitor has to figure out how to map, say, 1024x768 pixels (about 750,000) on to a display meant for, say, 1280,1024 (about 1.3 million.) There's is no nice way to do this if the two resolution are not integer multiples of each other. Fancier electronics in the LCD can help, but most do a quick and dirty type of scaling that looks pretty bad compared to using the correct resolution.

As for 2) Windows (and Mac OS X) expect a certain pixel density for optimal use (about 72 DPI). Your monitor is 86.3 DPI, which should be fine, but I guess is not to your taste. The next version of Windows should be much more capable in this regard, but for now you can change the DPI setting in Windows to something more comfortable. Right click on "Properties", go to "settings" tab, "advanced" button, "Custom Settings..." in the DPI box, and now play with the percentage until you're happy. Click and hold on the ruler, and move your mouse to make fine adjustments.
2.27.2006 3:48pm
Dave Friedman (mail) (www):
So I've had ClearType on my PC for years now.

Can I be a law professor too then?
2.27.2006 3:54pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
A guy goes into the doctor; "Doc, it hurts when I do this."
Doctor replies; "Don't do that."
Johnw would comment, "Damn doctors always trying to tell people how to stay healthy!"


Actually, I think the last step is that the Legislature passes a law prohibiting doctors from telling patients not to do that. Doctors need to mind their own g.d. business, right?
2.27.2006 7:43pm
JMP:
I can't stand Clear Type. I'm sure it's all in my head, but I've tried using it several times and it always results in headaches within 10 minutes or so.

Everyone else seems to love it, so there must be something to it. I've always found the clean, crisp lines of non-"clear type" text on an LCD to be the most legible.
2.27.2006 8:02pm
Xrayspec (mail):
Cleartype looks best on laptop screens where the dot size is smallest -- the higher dot density conceals the fuzzy edges better. On desktop LCDs with fatter dots, the fuzziness is more pronounced.

Not all fonts survive equally well. After turning on Cleartype I changed all my system font settings to use Lucida Sans Unicode, which I prefer to Verdana.
2.28.2006 12:05am
Intrope (mail):
JMP: You may want to try the ClearType tuner if you haven't already--some LCD screens are made differently, and the default ClearType setting looks really bad on them (it has to do with the order of the Red, Green and Blue subelements).

And some people just flat don't find it to their liking, of course. Me, I can't do without it.

BTW, they make a contol panel widget for cleartype (it does the same thing as the above web page): ClearType PowerToy
2.28.2006 11:43am