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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > OS X not looking as sharp as Windows...?

OS X not looking as sharp as Windows...?
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Jan 29, 2007, 08:51 AM
 
I am going to get this part out of the way first.
I love OS X and i will always run it over anything windows related no matter what.
My question is, i have noticed that XP or nearly anything windows looks alot sharper on the same monitor than OS X.
I talked to one of my Apple buddies and he told me that it was done by Apple intentionally. He referred to 96 dpi or something like that.
I am still confused and would like to know what is the deal.
Thanks for your input.
     
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Jan 29, 2007, 09:50 AM
 
oh and this is directly a result of my usage on my MBP.
     
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Jan 29, 2007, 10:27 AM
 
I have no idea what you're talking about. But remember that Apple applies drop shadows, smoothes edges, etc. That's probably what you see--Apple aesthetics at work.

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Jan 29, 2007, 04:29 PM
 
any other thoughts on this?
     
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Jan 29, 2007, 05:14 PM
 
Its all opinion, but I think text looks better on Windows - the Cleartype font rendering they use looks crisper than OS X's implementation.
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Jan 29, 2007, 05:30 PM
 
I prefer text on Mac OS. I turn off cleartype on XP since I think it's terrible. Vista seems to be doing a better job (maybe it's my new monitors) than XP, but I still prefer the text on OS X.
     
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Jan 29, 2007, 07:44 PM
 
I am not sure what sharper means in this context. I think vista looks more shiny, almost like they put a clear coat on it, but I would not say sharp. Maybe the OS has greater contrasts in the color theme. Also, did you have your gamma set the same. Your brain perceives contracts based on how black the blacks are and how white your whites in your field of vision.
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Jan 30, 2007, 02:23 AM
 
apple has various settings for different displays and different smoothing as well. Just play under the preferences. You can always restore to default if it looks like crap.
     
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Jan 30, 2007, 04:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by jdrumstik View Post
apple has various settings for different displays and different smoothing as well. Just play under the preferences. You can always restore to default if it looks like crap.
And when doing that remember that when you change the font smoothing setting it will only apply to applications you launch after saving the setting. If you want your change to apply to everything you have to change the setting, save it, log out and then log back in again.
     
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Jan 30, 2007, 12:34 PM
 
i am trying to find out what it is called. i will let you know what it is when i do.
the OS itself does not look as sharp.
not just vista, i mean XP too.
     
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Jan 30, 2007, 12:39 PM
 
my mac friend says this:

Screen resolution: Macs = 72 dpi
Windows = 96 dpi

is there any way to change this?
     
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Jan 30, 2007, 01:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
my mac friend says this:

Screen resolution: Macs = 72 dpi
Windows = 96 dpi

is there any way to change this?
You wait and buy Leopard, it's supposed to be moving to a resolution independent interface. So regardless if it's set to 72, 96, or 144 ppi, the interface will remain consistant.
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Jan 30, 2007, 02:11 PM
 
I thought dpi was more of a printing thing.
     
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Jan 30, 2007, 09:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
my mac friend says this:

Screen resolution: Macs = 72 dpi
Windows = 96 dpi

is there any way to change this?
Macs you're likely to have today range from 85ppi (14" iBook) to 112ppi (high res 15" PowerBook), with quite a few right around 100ppi.

You can't change it. It's a physical property of the display.
     
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Jan 31, 2007, 03:33 PM
 
thanks for all of your input.
     
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Jan 31, 2007, 07:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
my mac friend says this:

Screen resolution: Macs = 72 dpi
Windows = 96 dpi

is there any way to change this?
This is a red herring in this context -- while it's true that Mac historically assumed 72 pixels per inch on a monitor while Windows historically assumed 96 pixels per inch on a monitor, this distinction is irrelevant when you're talking about how text looks at roughly the same (visual) size on the exact same monitor.

To change the sharpness of text, go to "System Preferences..." and click on "Appearance." There you can change the Font Smoothing Style at the bottom -- "Strong" makes text look darker & sharper, while "light" or "Standard-best for CRT" makes text look lighter and fuzzier. If you find that smaller text looks especially fuzzy to you, you may also want to try setting "turn off text smoothing for font sizes 8 and smaller" up to 9 or 10, but try changing font smoothing style first.

Note that any changes you make won't affect the text in currently-running applications until you quit and restart those applications.

cheers,
jamie
     
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Jan 31, 2007, 08:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by jamiec View Post
This is a red herring in this context -- while it's true that Mac historically assumed 72 pixels per inch on a monitor while Windows historically assumed 96 pixels per inch on a monitor, this distinction is irrelevant when you're talking about how text looks at roughly the same (visual) size on the exact same monitor.

To change the sharpness of text, go to "System Preferences..." and click on "Appearance." There you can change the Font Smoothing Style at the bottom -- "Strong" makes text look darker & sharper, while "light" or "Standard-best for CRT" makes text look lighter and fuzzier. If you find that smaller text looks especially fuzzy to you, you may also want to try setting "turn off text smoothing for font sizes 8 and smaller" up to 9 or 10, but try changing font smoothing style first.

Note that any changes you make won't affect the text in currently-running applications until you quit and restart those applications.

cheers,
jamie

actually i mean the overall look of the OS.
i am still trying to figure this one out.
     
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Jan 31, 2007, 08:55 PM
 
I think that you should double check your resolutions. Because Mac OS X usually has better range of resolutions than M$ XP SP2. Don't even try to make this comparison without running the same resolutions.
     
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Jan 31, 2007, 11:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by jdrumstik View Post
I think that you should double check your resolutions. Because Mac OS X usually has better range of resolutions than M$ XP SP2. Don't even try to make this comparison without running the same resolutions.
please do not take this as an attack on OS Xi love my mac and always will buy mac as i stated in my first post.
please read that before trying to attack me.

i prefer mac, i only run xp or vista for games.
being a pc tech guy for many years i am just noticing a sharpness difference.
i am not even sure that i am describing it correctly.
i talked with my more apple savy friend and he gave me the information that i posted earlier.
i just want to know if anyone else sees this or what. i am going to make the text alterations, but the resolution are sharpness issue is not one of text, it is os level.
i am running a macbook pro 17 c2d...
i love it, and would not have spent that much if i did not love mac.
i am running the latest OS X.
i am currently running Vista in boot camp for games.
beside the fact the vista is "prettier" it just looks sharper.
the resolution is the same and the drivers on both sides are up to date. once again please do not take this as an attack on Mac. I am just noticing this difference and am wondering if there is a way to change it?
thank you for those of you that can respond without attitude.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 12:38 AM
 
They do look different, no doubt. I think, however, it is just a preference thing. I prefer OSX's settings. Both use different rendering engines. Both come set with different default brightness, smoothness, and resolution settings. It also could be that Windows and OSX use different drivers to run the same display. Accordingly, make sure your system software on the Mac is up to date.
For instance (the problem in reverse), see: Windows XP Display Setting Headaches: Colors on my computer screen don't look good. : Yahoo! Tech

There is no way anybody could help you, however, unless you describe what you mean more effectively.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 01:13 AM
 
Originally Posted by Terrin View Post
They do look different, no doubt. I think, however, it is just a preference thing. I prefer OSX's settings. Both use different rendering engines. Both come set with different default brightness, smoothness, and resolution settings. It also could be that Windows and OSX use different drivers to run the same display. Accordingly, make sure your system software on the Mac is up to date.
For instance (the problem in reverse), see: Windows XP Display Setting Headaches: Colors on my computer screen don't look good. : Yahoo! Tech

There is no way anybody could help you, however, unless you describe what you mean more effectively.
thanks alot for your thoughts.
it is not the end of the world because i love my mac and will have one forver...
i am just confused.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 05:06 AM
 
Make sure your display's resolution is set to 1680x1050.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 08:55 AM
 
on both it is set to the highest resolution.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 11:34 AM
 
A bit off the topic, but I have to say this; why is it that our original poster here had to write an apologetic post, reaffirming to us his undying unreserved love for the Mac and actually even apologise to us, the Mac community on this forum, for somehow implying in his original post, or subsequent comments, that something, as infinitely minute and insignificant as it was, could be wrong on the Mac OS X compared to the Windows world. Not only was it evident in his original post, but further down as well, he was compelled to clarify and reiterate his dedication to our platform.

It seems that our counterparts from the dark side often love to make fun of us for our zealotry. John Dvorak said it best, when he described in an interview how he attracts heavy traffic to his own site by irking 'the Mac people'. The story actually was a joke at our expense. Obviously, he is not totally off-base, when honest posters like the original poster here feel they have to clearly apologise for even hinting at any inferiority of our beloved platform, compared to the 'dark side'... What can we do to change this image?
( Last edited by vasic; Feb 1, 2007 at 12:00 PM. )
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 12:34 PM
 
That's funny, I find Apple's display of TrueType fonts much cleaner than Windows.. For example, I imported the Apple Myriad TTFs into XP and they look like junk. On Linux/KDE they look far better (though not as good as OS X).

In fact, with modern Xorg servers and KDE versions, fonts in general are much prettier and better-rendered than in Windows. Font-for-font though (taking Myriad and Apple's Lucida Grande and Helvetica Neue (thank you fondu!)) OS X is still the best.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 02:05 PM
 
Change the Font Smoothing Style under System Preferences/Appearance -- I actually have mine set to Standard-best for CRT despite having the 23" Apple Cinema Display because it makes the text look sharper. When someone says"sharper" vs "fuzzy", it's really going to be the text they're looking at.

Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
I am going to get this part out of the way first.
I love OS X and i will always run it over anything windows related no matter what.
My question is, i have noticed that XP or nearly anything windows looks alot sharper on the same monitor than OS X.
I talked to one of my Apple buddies and he told me that it was done by Apple intentionally. He referred to 96 dpi or something like that.
I am still confused and would like to know what is the deal.
Thanks for your input.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 03:14 PM
 
Still, he said it was an overall appearance and not a font thing, which frankly I have never really noticed. But then my eyes are not like they used to be....
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 04:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by vasic View Post
A bit off the topic, but I have to say this; why is it that our original poster here had to write an apologetic post, reaffirming to us his undying unreserved love for the Mac and actually even apologise to us, the Mac community on this forum, for somehow implying in his original post, or subsequent comments, that something, as infinitely minute and insignificant as it was, could be wrong on the Mac OS X compared to the Windows world. Not only was it evident in his original post, but further down as well, he was compelled to clarify and reiterate his dedication to our platform.

It seems that our counterparts from the dark side often love to make fun of us for our zealotry. John Dvorak said it best, when he described in an interview how he attracts heavy traffic to his own site by irking 'the Mac people'. The story actually was a joke at our expense. Obviously, he is not totally off-base, when honest posters like the original poster here feel they have to clearly apologise for even hinting at any inferiority of our beloved platform, compared to the 'dark side'... What can we do to change this image?
thank you, i tried not to go that deep into it..
but you are right and said it better than i ever could..
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 04:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by OtisWild View Post
That's funny, I find Apple's display of TrueType fonts much cleaner than Windows.. For example, I imported the Apple Myriad TTFs into XP and they look like junk. On Linux/KDE they look far better (though not as good as OS X).

In fact, with modern Xorg servers and KDE versions, fonts in general are much prettier and better-rendered than in Windows. Font-for-font though (taking Myriad and Apple's Lucida Grande and Helvetica Neue (thank you fondu!)) OS X is still the best.
it is not a font thing, it is an os thing.
overall i think that OS X is cooler and alot more user friendly, but it does not look as sharp as windows for some odd reason that i cannot nail down.
even if it were my eyes, both sides wouldbe fuzzy and thus one would still need to be clearer for me to make my point.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 04:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by ktwdallas View Post
Change the Font Smoothing Style under System Preferences/Appearance -- I actually have mine set to Standard-best for CRT despite having the 23" Apple Cinema Display because it makes the text look sharper. When someone says"sharper" vs "fuzzy", it's really going to be the text they're looking at.
i have tried different font settings as earlier reccomended, but fonts are not the issue.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 04:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by buddy1065 View Post
Still, he said it was an overall appearance and not a font thing, which frankly I have never really noticed. But then my eyes are not like they used to be....
we must be in the same age boat, but it is still fuzzy to me..
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 04:33 PM
 
perhaps you could take pictures (not screenshots), label them and show us?
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 04:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by kick52 View Post
perhaps you could take pictures (not screenshots), label them and show us?
i was thinking about that.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 08:02 PM
 
it's probably just the anti-aliasing, smoothing, as suggested.. personally i love the smooth look
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Feb 2, 2007, 10:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by pyrite View Post
it's probably just the anti-aliasing, smoothing, as suggested.. personally i love the smooth look
that does i guess sound about right. i wish i could change that.
     
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Feb 4, 2007, 01:05 AM
 
As suggested take screensnaps of identical font/size/apps in both Vista and OSX using the same machine which eliminates the variables of screen/resolution and graphics card.

Then slice them with one above the other, labelled in the text itself so we can see for ourselves.

I have a Mitsubishi 23" CRT shared between my PC and G4 Mac. The PC is running W2K and is definitely inferior in font rendering. In fact there is a color offset shadowing anything with a sharp edge. But then this is not so relevant as W2K is 2 releases ago and does not represent a fair comparison.
     
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Feb 4, 2007, 01:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
that does i guess sound about right. i wish i could change that.
That pretty much hits it on the nose: OS X is designed from the ground-up to be sleek and smooth. This includes everything from fonts to icons to widgets. Windows, on the other hand, is still clinging to its pixellated past (at least in XP; Vista is quite a bit better). As a result, everything on Windows is a bit sharper and crisper, while OS X is smoother. It's just a personal preference thing; I, for one, prefer Apple's take over Microsoft's.

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Feb 4, 2007, 07:56 AM
 
One possibility is the gamma setting. Macs use gamma 1.8 as their standard whereas PCs use 2.2. The end result is that the MacOS is lighter and shows more details in images, but has less contrast relative to a PC (which is the converse - darker, less details in images, but more contrast). Using a higher gamma value will make the OS look sharper.

The other thing to check is how well your screen is calibrated - for me the default setting on any Mac using an LCD display in an Apple Store is horribly washed out and the first thing I would do with a new one (or a new monitor) is calibrate its display using SuperCal. It can make a huge difference to your user experience.
     
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Feb 5, 2007, 02:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by JKT View Post
One possibility is the gamma setting. Macs use gamma 1.8 as their standard whereas PCs use 2.2. The end result is that the MacOS is lighter and shows more details in images, but has less contrast relative to a PC (which is the converse - darker, less details in images, but more contrast). Using a higher gamma value will make the OS look sharper.

The other thing to check is how well your screen is calibrated - for me the default setting on any Mac using an LCD display in an Apple Store is horribly washed out and the first thing I would do with a new one (or a new monitor) is calibrate its display using SuperCal. It can make a huge difference to your user experience.
right on, exactly what I wanted to say!!
check your calibration and gamma. The change in the gamma will give a sharper text, more luminous graphics too... more "TV-like".

SuperCal works great, but you can also use the more limited but out of the box tools that apple has.. you just select the "calibrate" button under the "color" tab of the monitor preference pane.
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Feb 5, 2007, 11:04 AM
 
Originally Posted by Bouba View Post
right on, exactly what I wanted to say!!
check your calibration and gamma. The change in the gamma will give a sharper text, more luminous graphics too... more "TV-like".

SuperCal works great, but you can also use the more limited but out of the box tools that apple has.. you just select the "calibrate" button under the "color" tab of the monitor preference pane.
thanks, i am giving it a shot now.
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 09:47 AM
 
yeah, i definitely notice it also. not sure if these screenshots are good examples of what solofx7 and i are referring to, but i also notice it when i load up windows either through boot camp or parallels. the screen shots were taken with firefox from windows running in coherence mode.



     
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Feb 9, 2007, 11:19 AM
 
Definitely Anti-Aliasing. Turn on "ClearType" in windows, and you'll have AA fonts there as well.
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Feb 9, 2007, 03:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by fongyuen View Post
yeah, i definitely notice it also. not sure if these screenshots are good examples of what solofx7 and i are referring to, but i also notice it when i load up windows either through boot camp or parallels. the screen shots were taken with firefox from windows running in coherence mode.




dude, thanks i have been so busy...
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 03:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by phazedowt View Post
Definitely Anti-Aliasing. Turn on "ClearType" in windows, and you'll have AA fonts there as well.
i am trying to get OS X to look sharp like windows.
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 03:09 PM
 
I think OS X's Anti-Aliased Fonts look better.

YMMV.
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Feb 9, 2007, 05:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by brokenjago View Post
I think OS X's Anti-Aliased Fonts look better.

YMMV.
it is not just the fonts, it is the os...
can i change the anti aliasing?
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 05:39 PM
 
If you're using an LCD and you're not running your computer at a "native" resolution of the LCD, then it'll diffuse pixels and make it look weird. Try setting your LCD to the highest resolution it can do. If it's too small (as in, icons too small, text too hard to read) you can try it 1/2 that resolution. Anything else is going to look messed up.

That's the main problem with LCDs and why a resolution independent GUI is important. It'll allow you to have a GUI rendered at "1024x480" even if the LCD is fixed at 1600x1024 pixels.

Part of the reason I still use a CRT. LCDs annoy the hell out of me. Most of the time the resolution is either too small or too big.
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Feb 9, 2007, 06:22 PM
 
If solofx7's issue is the same as shown in fongyuen's screenshots above, then it definitely is font rendering we're talking about.

I've had both XP and Vista installed on my Mac Pro and Mac OS X looks every bit as sharp as they do, aside from the font anti-aliasing. Windows ClearType makes text look anorexic — I can't stand it. It's so thin and ugly and harder on my eyes, bleh.

solofx7 states that it's not a font AAing issue though, so I'm not at all sure what it could be aside from their personal opinion on what is "sharp". It's true that in general OS X has a smoother appearance on window borders and text and whatnot, but it's not ever blurry or fuzzy. People have already mentioned the possible reasons: ClearType, monitor resolution, gamma. So I'm not sure.
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Feb 9, 2007, 07:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by solofx7 View Post
i am trying to get OS X to look sharp like windows.
Turning up the minimum font size for anti-aliasing to some arbitrarily large number on OS X may help. I forget what system preference it's in.

Originally Posted by Apfhex View Post
I've had both XP and Vista installed on my Mac Pro and Mac OS X looks every bit as sharp as they do, aside from the font anti-aliasing. Windows ClearType makes text look anorexic — I can't stand it. It's so thin and ugly and harder on my eyes, bleh.
ClearType makes fonts look fatter, not thinner.

No font smoothing:


With ClearType:

( Last edited by mduell; Feb 9, 2007 at 07:56 PM. )
     
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Feb 9, 2007, 09:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
ClearType makes fonts look fatter, not thinner.
I meant in comparison to OS X. I'd rather using ClearType over aliased text any day, but I just don't like how thin some typefaces look, sometimes they're even harder to read. (I don't want to boot into Windows right now or I'd make some comparison shots)
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