Today, I happened to look at this page on a computer without ClearType activated. And man … I had completely forgotten how ugly text on a computer screen can look. Really, with Clear Type, what you see on the screen comes reasonably close to looking at a printed page (whereas the “old” screen view comes close to looking at a piece of paper someone has dropped on a henhouse floor).
If you have Windows XP, this is already available, but for some reason MS have decided not to turn it on by default, and furthermore they have buried the setting in some menu one would not normally look for something like this.
Here it is:

  • Right click on the desktop and select ‘Properties’
  • Select the ‘Appearance’ tab and press the ‘Effects…’ button (who would have guessed? “Effects” makes me think of pointer arrows with blinking christmas decorations or weird screen savers, not typographical subtleties).
  • Check the box for ‘Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts’, then
  • select ‘ClearType’ in the dropdown list, and
  • OK your way out again.

That’s it — your way to a better browsing experience, whiter teeth, longer vacations, better guitar playing skills, peace on earth and most other places, or at least to a better browsing experience.
If you want, you can fine-tune the settings with a tuner program you can download from, but it works its wonders even without it.
Do yourself a favour and follow my advice — without it, what you’re looking at now is ugly (which means that all my web design efforts will have been spent in vain, so do me a favour as well).

6 thoughts on “ClearType

  1. Thanks for tipping me off to the obscurely placed feature. I switched when you mentioned ClearType during one of your first plugs for Firefox. I also switched my girlfriend’s laptop to ClearType (without asking. . . or tellling her. . . she’s a bit paranoid of me changing too much), and intend to do it to everyone else’s I come across. I’m not as sensitive to the subtleties of typography as you are, but the difference is visible at once, and it’s a MUCH nicer look for large type. Thanks again.

    The first time I read about ClearType on your page you recommended it only to those readers with a laptop/flatscreen running on XP. Is this feature only to be used on said computers or should I switch it on on computers which have monitors with pronounced Z-dimensions as well?

  2. I’m glad my campaign is working! I like your idea about “fixing” it on every computer you come across (although some people are paranoid in that respect).
    About the different screen types, I’m not sure about the technicalities of it. The specification of laptops and flatscreens comes from Microsoft’s own page. They don’t say that one couldn’t or shouldn’t use it on the other type of screens, and I’ve used it on those screens, with the same effect as on my laptop.

  3. Thanks for the tip! I have a flatscreen and I had no idea about this feature which is really quite an improvement.

    Now I just gotta convert everyone I know. :-)

  4. How!! I wonder how I could have been surfing the web for years without ClearType on. There will be an “after clear-type” on my life. Thanks for the tip. I promise to spreed it out everywhere I will type on. Nice blog, by the way…

  5. Thanks Mr. Aesthetics! I recently had to screw with my computer and lost the Clear Type setting…could hardly bear to write anymore!
    All best!

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