Chrome Font Rendering: Google removes DirectWrite flag

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 6, 2016
Updated • Apr 24, 2017
Google Chrome

Google dropped Chrome support for several older operating systems, including Windows XP and Vista, in April 2016.

The company started to remove code from Chromium, the open source foundation of the Chrome browser, to reflect the change in support and to simply the browser's code base by concentrating solely on Windows 7 and newer versions of Windows.

Google employees began to remove bits of code from Chromium as early as January 2016, and several of the things that got removed may affect the font rendering of the web browser.

Issue 579678, Remove GDI font path, confirms that Google removed GDI font rendering, the "disable direct write" switch, and associated code from Chrome.

This patch will remove the gdi font rendering, the "disable-direct-write" switch, and associated code. All font rendering will now be done by DirectWrite.

Google Chrome will use DirectWrite exclusively for font rendering on Windows as of Chrome 52.

The change takes effect in Chrome 52 which is currently available on the beta channel has been released in the meantime. The next stable update will move the browser to that version however and it is then that the bulk of users will notice the change.

Most modern browsers use DirectWrite on Windows for font rendering, and it works well in most cases.

Update: Note that Google has removed the flag from its Chrome web browser to disable DirectWrite. It is no longer part of it, which also means that there is no option right now to disable DirectWrite anymore on Windows machines.

With the option gone, there is little left for affected users to do. While Chrome extensions such as Font Rendering Enhancer may help resolve the issue for some, others may have no recourse in this regard if extensions won't resolve the font rendering issue on their end.

Depending on the system, display settings and display drivers, DirectWrite may however cause fonts to render worse. Users affected by the issue could set the flag on the chrome://flags page to disable DirectWrite font rendering in Chrome up until now.

It is unclear right now how other Chromium-based browsers, Vivaldi or Opera for instance, are affected by the change. Since the code has been removed from Chromium, companies would have to add the code again to continue offering support for disabling DirectWrite in web browsers.

Another thing that is unclear is how many Chrome users are affected by font rendering issues in the browser, and how many managed to fix the rendering issues by disabling DirectWrite.

Now You: are you affected by the change in Google Chrome?

Chrome Font Rendering: Google removes DirectWrite flag
Article Name
Chrome Font Rendering: Google removes DirectWrite flag
Google removed options from Chromium and thus Google Chrome to disable DirectWrite font rendering in the web browser.
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  1. Jack Yan said on February 21, 2020 at 2:31 am

    As of February 2020, Vivaldi now looks like Chrome; prior to that everything still rendered fine. Opera GX still renders the old way (presumably Directwrite is switched off).

  2. Meda said on May 30, 2017 at 11:57 am

    As a professional, designing and building website I’m really frustrated. I admit that choice done by Google can be understood but I hope they work on a long term solution to be able to use any font without such result (for me the result is simple, IE, FF, Opera, Safari etc. all fonts I use are legible and clear in all resolution, win 7, win10 but Chrome display is blurred for several fonts, especially for bold display it as to be solved asap and without any option to check on a user basis…so I’m not for come back of an option that is for me another workaround)

    @Google, please please provide information on it, what is your long term solution ?

  3. Thanh Nguyen said on April 24, 2017 at 5:47 am

    I have tried all solutions above and none of them works. Finally, I decide to downgrade Chrome to version 51 with ‘disable-direct-write’ flag available.

    1. David said on April 24, 2017 at 6:38 am

      Yep. I’ve been using version 51 since this shit happened. No problems so far…

      1. Alex said on April 24, 2017 at 7:44 am

        I’ve been using Cent Browser for quite a few months now after it was recommended, since it still has the Flag as an option, it’s basically Chrome but not exactly the same thing, supports extensions and all. I was using an old version of Chrome before that.

  4. Garrett said on March 14, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Sadly the disable path did not work for me, it only affected regular websites, so for instance YouTube was still using DirectWrite, so I had to go back to an old Chrome, and I may try Cent, going back to the old Chrome fixed it instantly, all font is crisp and gorgeous.

    I’m baffled by it, and Google staff/helpers are downright mean about it.

  5. Jan said on February 14, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Hi Guys,

    i spend hours, if not days searching for a solution, and was already so extremely frustrated…
    Most of the websites are out-dated, or you simply cannot access the settings that they suggest in the newest browser any more.
    I HATE clear type as it makes the fonts in File Explorer, Outlook etc. blurry :-( (although it would be the most obvious and fastest and easiest solution to turn Clear Type on…)
    Also this direct-write issue is a BIG FAIL, and made on the backs of millions of useres that will most likely not be able to find a solution themselves.

    I read all of this page and tried all of your suggestions, and on my Windows 7 prof. SP1 64-bit system with Office 2003 + 2007 and Filezilla (works ok with Fonts from itself), Opera (did not manage to get a clear font) and Chrome

    There are 2 solutions that make the font readable again!

    1) the easiest tipp that helped me is to simply start the chrome.exe Program with this flag:
    ” /disable-remote-fonts”,

    so edit your shortcut to for example
    FROM: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe”
    TO: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” /disable-remote-fonts
    and that’s it!
    Totally unbelievable to be such a simple solution, and to be so unknown and un-documented…

    2) the second tipp that also worked fine is the Add-On “Font Changer”, with the small disadvantage that you have to change the font for EVERY website, but only on the FIRST USE (which also ok somehow and with the bonus that you can define the look of each website seperately!)

    I hope that with this summary i was able to help a lot of users, and also hope that some developer of google chrome or opera is reading forums and really want to deploy software that HELPS and that does not cost valuable time or frustrate people.

    All the best to all of you and continue to make the Web better!


    1. Dan said on April 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Wow, what a great find!

  6. John said on February 6, 2017 at 4:54 am

    The extension referenced fixed it for me. Thanks!

  7. Larry said on December 5, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I don’t like firefox but now chrome is also terrible, searching alternatives found a google chrome fork called advanced chrome, seems that some developer managed to fix what google can’t do, he tuned directdraw in some way that looks almost as sharp as GDI and made other improvements that I really love, try it and see the difference:

  8. Pedro Fonseca said on November 19, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    I stopped using Chrome because of this. Not very user oriented is it?

  9. eio said on November 11, 2016 at 5:47 am

    I literally tried ALL of your solution(except downgrading chrome), including using the cent browser and disabling directwirte from there, NON of those solutions worked!

  10. Anonymous said on September 30, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Still no options / addons / to disable DirectWrite ?

  11. Ana Beatriz (Brasil) said on August 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Now You: are you affected by the change in Google Chrome? Yes, a lot! I can´t read anything in this website… Back to Mozzila Firefox!!

  12. FkChromium said on August 27, 2016 at 5:47 am

    I switched to Cent Browser. This developer added disable DirectWrite flag back. Its using Chromium 52.0.2743.116. It has a lot more options than Chrome and Opera. You can make it look exactly like Opera with tab shape. :)

  13. Devon Dieffenbach said on August 24, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    This makes using Chrome in VDI such as XenDesktop or XenApp very difficult. Lots of VDI deployments are lacking in the graphics department.

  14. Anonymous said on August 23, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    I’m just using the old version until it starts getting buggy and whatever. I’m OK with Chrome and I want to use MacType. Fuck this bullshit, lol. Why do they even remove that flag. So fucking stupid.

  15. pureocean said on August 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    No need previously install older versions of Chrome.

    Cent Browser ( is brought back the “Disabling Direct Write” (consequently the GDI font rendering) feature, even though it’s just now based Chromium version 52! This browser contains many useful features against Chrome, Chromium.

    I hope, everyone hear about it. Of course, it’s can be some more improvementing. I will write my Requests, Suggestions and encountered minor bugs to the author.

    Actually, Two developers of Chromium (Scott Graham & Ilya Kulshin) removing the GDI font rendering conduce toward my meeting CentBrowser. I can’t thank themselves enough!

    1. Alexander Kaminski said on August 28, 2016 at 1:11 am

      I’m trying out the Cent Browser right now. Got most of what I use set up now, no issues so far. Definitely nice having that DirectWrite option, and yeah I guess we’ll be getting security updates too through this alternative Chromium browser. Thanks for the tip! :)

      1. pureocean said on September 6, 2016 at 4:02 am

        I did just read your reply. You’re welcome.

        I wrote my suggestions and encountered bugs to the Cent Browser forum.

        I will write the “Chapter Two” soon. :) I’m waiting v53 build which the delevoper said “will upgrade soon”.

        For example: User-Agent. Cent haven’t self-described string in UserAgent. Therefore, most probably Google still thinks our Chrome! Need shouldn’t cause Google to think. Cent shouldn’t permit that.

  16. jenksy said on August 16, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    All you people loading previous versions should read the thread. Loading an old version isn’t a solution; it’s a workaround. The setting is buried but accessible.

    1. Anonymous said on August 20, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Where exactly?

    2. Alexander Kaminski said on August 16, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      I experimented with the path you followed before I left my previous comment. “LCD text antialiasing” was already enabled when set to auto for me, I compared with screenshots. Turning it off made it even worse, but setting it to on was the same as auto. It did not resolve it, only going back to an old version and turning off directwrite made the text tolerable again.

  17. JW said on August 13, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I think I have found the solution:

    Start Chrome like this:

    “C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” /disable-remote-fonts

  18. simplybe said on August 12, 2016 at 11:40 am

    This is really easy to fix – simply go to your font folder and delete the ‘Helvetica’ font…

  19. macgyver56 said on August 11, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    The question is: are you affected by the change in Google Chrome? Yes, I have definitely been affected by the removal of the Direct Write flag. The result is that four sites that I manage/administrate have become extremely difficult to read. I showed it to someone not involved with the sites, seeking a somewhat objective observer, and their first comment was that the font was horrendous. I tried adding the Font Rendering Enhancer extension. That made little or no difference. My solution: I have stopped using Chrome entirely and switched to Firefox. It was not my preference, but the eye strain and difficulty reading resulting from the font rendering with Direct Write enabled was becoming extreme. I have been an enthusiastic user and proponent of Chrome for years. This change, however, left me with no other option. It’s pretty pathetic when the only choices are switch browsers or go blind.

    Chrome needs to get someone on board who understands the visual process of reading, how the eye and the brain work together to recognize words, and how different fonts can enhance that process or, as in this instance, completely disrupt it.

  20. Ulf said on August 11, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Is there any way to get an old Chrome version? I was having subtle struggles reading my text when I realized it wasn’t me but the font rendering that had changed. It looks terrible (“LCD text antialiasing” was already activated).

    1. Alexander Kaminski said on August 11, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Found a solution.

      I downloaded an old version (51.0.2704.84) of Chrome 64-bit here:

      You extract it, put the folder wherever you want, create a shortcut to the .exe and then disable DirectWrite in Chrome’s chrome://flags/ page. Restart the browser and compare text with screenshots.

      You can still use your up to date version of Chrome whenever you wish, however after you open and close it, DirectWrite will be activated again in both versions.

      The old version doesn’t seem to be able to update, so it’s as simple as keeping the chrome://flags/ page bookmarked, and upon opening the older version of Chrome, disabling DirectWrite after each time you use the newer version of Chrome.

      If there’s no better option this solution should be shared. They may never reverse the decision to give us blurry text, so I’m glad this was an option.

  21. And- said on August 9, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    with a high-dpi screen the font rendering with direct-write is simply wrong, every font looks different from what it should be, letter-spacing and hinting is wrong, texts looks bad, font lines are thinner than how they should be, some webfont looks blurry, plus any font that is on a gpu accelerated layer is unreadable with even the same letter rendered different like the two ‘m’ on this ‘Submit Comment’ button.. it’s a disaster… thanks Google for forcing to a such nonsense and not-yet-ready change.. Previosly I was using GDI (that was not good from its own) with Mactype engine and the fonts look simply perfect, now with this change Chrome can no more be used as the main development platform on windows, linux and macos have by far a better font rendering engine

    1. Sarp said on August 12, 2016 at 9:35 am

      I just use the old version (51) to disable Directwrite, so I can have my lovely MacType rendering back. I will use this about 4 months or so. If it’s still not reversed, then to Firefox again…

  22. Nyhet said on August 9, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    DirectWrite sucks big time. Thank god there’s repositories with older versions of google chrome around, got my thing fixed and pretty again.

  23. Varatharajan said on August 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Good Bye Chrome

  24. AndreZA said on August 9, 2016 at 11:26 am

    My Chrome was working 100% last night and today it is not. I’ve never been a fan of Firefox but I have no choice now.

  25. Deb said on August 5, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    I had to rollback to the previous version in order to disable DirectWrite. I don’t understand why Google can’t just keep the ability to enable or disable this feature in the current version.

  26. silvermoon said on August 4, 2016 at 12:18 am

    Google chrome is a god awful browser ,
    Palemoon is far better on my linux system.

  27. linh said on July 27, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Now i use chrome is default, but fonts in all the website are very terrible, i don’t want see and read it anymore, If chrome don’t fix it or bring the DirectWrite flag again, i’ll have to use firefox againt, bye chrome

  28. Manu said on July 27, 2016 at 1:08 am

    DirectWrite is the worse API for rendering fonts. Even Microsoft Office Tools are suffering from that. It only works if you have cleartype enabled, otherwise it renders font incorrectly.

  29. Robert said on July 26, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    For me, enabling “LCD text antialiasing” seems to have fixed the bad font rendering issue (running 52.0.2743.82).

    1. You lovely Little Bug said on February 2, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      This works. nicely done, and thanks for sharing.

    2. Tim said on January 5, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Robert, thanks for sharing. That fixed my Chrome font issue as well.

    3. Brian said on October 24, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      Thank you! This solved it for me. Text was looking really blocky and terrible. Now it’s fine.

    4. karakenio said on October 19, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      It worked for me.

      The “LCD text antialiasing” [“Antialiasing de texto LCD”] is on:
      (You just have to type that in your browser to get there)

    5. marshall said on September 5, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      this fixed it. SO HAPPY TO HAVE FOUND YOUR POST!!!

    6. Alex Kaye said on September 2, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      Worked for me, amazing!!! Had to look at 20 forums to find this…

    7. Greg said on August 16, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      This does not fix it for me.

    8. Tom said on August 16, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Where is this setting?

    9. Jacki said on August 12, 2016 at 9:32 am

      OMFG this was what worked. I ended up with a font changer just to make it work. It made everything just a little slower.

      This solution worked 100%. You saved my eyes…and saved me from having to go back to a very VERY slow FF

    10. Jenksy said on July 26, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      THIS! This worked for me too! THANK YOU, ROBERT!

      1. John said on July 28, 2016 at 3:12 pm

        This does work, great news.

  30. Alex said on July 25, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Goodbuy Chrome. Hello FireFox

  31. Gerry said on July 23, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    I abandoned Vivaldi for this very reason. The developers insist on upgrading Chromium nearly every time they issue a “snapshot”. They’ve now adopted Version 52, so DirectWrite cannot be disabled. When it’s enabled the font rendering is so poor I get eyestrain trying to read the text.

    Now I’m using SRWare Iron. The latest version is still based on Chromium 51, which has allowed me to disable DirectWrite, and the fonts are nice and sharp.

  32. fojtda said on July 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Hi there,

    I am also facing the same difficulty now. Also miss the “disable directwrite”. What were they thinking? What do we do now? Maybe downgrade? It is true, though, that 52 is only a beta so far and there is also ver. 53. Perhaps it will be better.

  33. Blurred said on July 14, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    The CHROMIUM 52 version fonts display BADLY for me now. Surely do miss the FLAG setting that disabled DIRECTWRITE.

    1. Cosmo said on August 23, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      Same here. Had to switch to an extension that changed fonts on webpages to Arial/Verdana/whatever works and is not blurry.

      What the fuck.

    2. Bob said on August 11, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      agree, very disappointed with fonts in Chrome now, I loved this directwrite flag. Time to start looking for workarounds or jumping ship to another browser. Thanks for screwing me Chrome, you were nearly perfect.

    3. Jenksy said on July 26, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      I’m with Blurred. Chrome 52 was pushed to my workstation at work and it’s gross. Reading is now extremely difficult.

  34. NM said on June 29, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    If I don’t disable DirectWrite via flags, whenever I have Chrome open I keep getting those damn “Display driver has stopped working” messages. That’s on Win7 SP1. So much for Chrome focusing support on Win7 and later.

  35. Sarp said on June 24, 2016 at 12:04 am

    Back to Firefox again…

  36. MikeEroa said on June 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    This is the last version of any Chrome based browser I’m using. I will be disabling auto updates, eventually going back to Edge or Firefox. This is unacceptable!

  37. Firefuks said on June 17, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Thanks for killing Chrome. Moving back to Firefox.

  38. Anonymous said on June 8, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Chromium‘s DirectWrite sucks.This is one of reasons why I do not use Chromium-mods.

  39. googller said on June 7, 2016 at 3:21 am

    Why don’t google just add this on the settings menu as a check box whether to enable it or not rather than remove this pretty useful function altogether, which in my 2014 pc it is disabled since it looks worse when enabled. Maybe for others it’s fine but for some it does the opposite even with the latest pc’s like with some people I know had.

    1. p3ngwin said on June 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      RTFA, Google is deprecating Windows OS versions, and that means XP and Vista are EOL’d.

      Read exactly what GDI is, and why your suggestion to “keep it as an option” doesn’t make sense.

      1. Anonymous said on September 26, 2016 at 9:48 am

        Well, you are a moron.

  40. Lestat said on June 6, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    It is a very hit and miss situation. On some configurations it works acceptable and on some not at all.

    Anyway, Chrome rendering is way worse as for example compared with Pale Moon. Even IE is rendering more crisp than Chromium based browsers, and that says a lot.

    Still, directwrite – when it works, while it is not at all a superior rendering quality, it is acceptable. But for a lot of users the quality output is just too blurry. And i am pretty sure quite a lot of people will leave Chrome/Chromium/Chromium based browsers now because of this.

  41. CHEF-KOCH said on June 6, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    DirectWrite not works well, especially on very fast systems. if you check with tools like LatencyMon you will see they want constantly access the HHD, that’s usually not a problem on SSD systems but on HDD systems you get slow downs.

    The rendering stuff also is something which could be used to fingerprint you, I not recommend to use/enable it, better life with ugly fonts instead of security in complications or system latency issue.

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