How can I get my Chrome fonts to stop looking like Zalgo?
September 29, 2011 1:10 AM   Subscribe

I need a new font-smoothing app for Windows, or a fix to stop fonts in Chrome looking like Zalgo is coming.

I don't like any of Windows 7's built-in font smoothing options, so for the last few years I have used first GDI++ and now gdipp to replace ClearType, for more Mac/iOS-like font rendering. For the most part gdipp has worked very well, but recent Chrome updates have resulted in strange, ugly text rendering issues for some fonts, and it looks very much like it'll be broken completely in Chrome before long. The developer of gdipp seems to be hard at work on a new version, but it's a long way off, and they don't apparently have time to fix bugs in the current version.

I've downloaded a userscript to turn off font shadowing, which has fixed the issue for a few sites (like BBC News) but most are still a problem. If I can't resolve this then I'll have to move back to Firefox or use Safari (which has its own font smoother). I'd rather not.

GDI++ doesn't work on Chrome, and ezgdi just doesn't seem to work at all. Does anyone know of any other methods to achieve Mac/iOS-style font smoothing in Windows? Or any fixes for Chrome to resolve this? Please don't suggest ClearType, as I'm not a fan.

Examples from my PC: Google in Chrome, Firefox, IE (which doesn't use gdipp at all)
Random tumblr link from mefi in Chrome, Firefox, IE
posted by ArmyOfKittens to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I use the --no-sandbox key to get gdi++ to work with Chrome (and suffer the persistent yellow bar), but according to this chromium post, it seems that is broken as well.

The gdi++ guys shifted development here and have quite a few versions of gdi++ out now. I've tried them around, but configuring them and getting all fonts to play nice is such a pain, I just dumped them and moved back to trusty old gdi++. My Japanese being pretty weak doesn't help. Try poking around with Google Translate if you're willing to experiment.

Also, thank you very much for making this post as I'm very interested in what else MeFi can throw up when it comes to Windows font smoothing...
posted by Senza Volto at 1:52 AM on September 29, 2011

IE9 apparently uses proper (OSX/Linux style) sub-pixel font-smoothing / positioning for documents using standards mode, but falls back to old-style (ie forcing character lines to pixels, then anti-aliasing) rendering for Quicks mode.

Now that's going to confuse people.

(MS appears to have realised that forcing glyphs to the pixel block is the wrong thing to do going forwards + all apps that use the WPF libraries will get OSX/Linux style rendering by default unless they specify otherwise. Presumably if you use a truetype font that has been designed to position itself on glyph boundaries using the ttf virtual machine, like the MS web fonts, then those fonts will still end up looking like they always did.)
posted by pharm at 6:00 AM on September 29, 2011

Incidentally, the reason for the difference between FireFox & Chrome is that FireFox is using DirectWrite & therefore getting true sub-pixel glyph placement & anti-aliasing, whilst for some reason to do with sand-boxing, Chrome can't use DirectWrite at all, so it falls back to the old GDI rendering, where your hack turns off ClearType and forces use of the pre-ClearType font rendering libraries.

I'm a browser tart these days: anything that works is good enough & I'll hop happily between IE, FF & Chrome depending on feature set at any given time....
posted by pharm at 6:13 AM on September 29, 2011

It looks like, in current dev builds, it's all fixed again!

October 11.

October 12.

From what is currently the bottom of this thread. Hopefully these fixes will be incorporated into Chrome sooner rather than later, but I guess we can always jump ahead to a dev build if it gets worse before it gets better.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:13 PM on October 14, 2011

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