Font Smoothing for LCD Displays

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 17, 2007
Updated • Aug 4, 2012

Font Smoothing is not optimized properly on your computer. I can say that because it holds true for almost any computer that is running Windows XP using a LCD display. Windows XP offers only two ways to smooth fonts which are both deeply hidden in the system.

To access them you need to open the Display Properties, select the Appearance tab and click on Effects in that menu. In there you find two options to smooth edges of screen fonts: Standard or Clear Type.

While Clear Type does display a far better font quality it is not optimized properly. Both settings deliver far better results though than the default Windows XP setting which does not smooth fonts at all. Let me visualize the different settings so that you can see the difference between the settings: (please note that the image quality makes it difficulty to spot the difference in the browser)

No Font Smoothing:

Standard Font Smoothing:

Clear Type Font Smoothing:

Optimized Clear Type Font Smoothing:

As you can see the font quality gets better with each image. The first three settings can be achieved in Windows XP by either selecting one of the two entries in Effects or by disabling that option there. The last setting however can not that easily be achieved.

I did use the excellent software Clear Tweak to adjust the contrast of the Clear Type font smoothing. Reducing the value from 1400, the default setting, to 1000 resulted in the best font display in my case. It might take some tweaking on your side to find the best setting but I suppose it should be near my number.

Changes take effect immediately which is great for testing purposes. The software does not need to be run after finding the best setting for your LCD display.


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  1. WAR! said on April 11, 2012 at 5:32 am

    Uhh, the font gets progressively worse…

    The “issue” seems that only 1 pixel is used in fonts and hence some people may like 2 pixels… cleartype (and windows 7’s abomination) aside, you can get the same effect by bolding text.

    As for me? I am not blind, and can read thin fonts quite clearly.

  2. cleartype-sucks said on January 22, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    1) why jpg? use png
    2) I always used standard font smoothing; cleartype is way too blurry, and cleartweak or cleartype tuner don’t help at all
    3) why so small fonts; in order to easily compare your examples you should show examples with bigger fonts
    4) I can’t see a difference between screenshot 1 and 2; most likely, there is no standard font smoothing activated because the font is too tiny

  3. sdfsdf said on April 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Why do you use .jpg format for such kind of pictures? Moreover, with such high compression level? What do you think we can distiguish on it? Very unqualified job :-(

  4. Yonoz said on September 18, 2007 at 4:42 pm
  5. Martin said on September 18, 2007 at 10:18 am

    I use Clear Type and SMPlayer and it works perfectly..

  6. nm said on September 18, 2007 at 9:27 am

    If you use cleartype with a video player like VLC, you’ll end up with terrible image quality when playing videos.

  7. Ace_NoOne said on September 17, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    ClearType makes my head hurt.
    Unfortunately, setting it to 1000 (the lowest value possible) didn’t help either, so I’ll stick to standard smoothing.

  8. Thinker said on September 17, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    I really don’t understand it. I got good LCD (20″ samsung 205BW) and clear type is blured for me. I use standard smoothing and it is the sharpest of all smothing types.

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