Monday, February 01, 2010

Sharpening up ClearType

Before disconnecting my old computer, after wiping the hard drive, I installed Ubuntu Linux on it from a DVD I had lying around. When the desktop came up I was amazed how clear and sharp the print was, compared to Windows.

When I got my new computer, running Windows XP, the print at first looked horrible. By default the fonts were unaliased, the edges not smoothed, a reminder of computers in the 1990s. I soon found and enabled the ClearType option to smooth the edges of fonts, but the result made me think there was something wrong with my spectacles - not so much ClearType as BlurredType.

After a couple of days I got to wondering whether there was some alternative to ClearType that would smooth the edges of fonts but look sharper. After all, if Linux can do it surely it is not beyond the abilities of Microsoft? And I eventually stumbled across the ClearType Tuner, one of Microsoft's PowerToys for Windows XP.

The ClearType Tuner is easy to use. Just install it, run it, and then click to select the font samples that look best on your screen. It has made a world of difference. If you think the print on your screen could be sharper, you should give it a try. What I don't understand is why, in an operating system you have to pay for quite handsomely, this essential feature is only offered as an unsupported and unpublicized option.

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