Fix my fonts, please
September 25, 2021 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Fonts in Slack, and sometimes in other apps like browsers, word documents, PDFs, etc, are always blurry. It's not my eyesight. They don't start out blurry, but sometimes they become blurry when I switch windows. I thought it was just that it blurred fonts in the background, but switching back to the blurry app doesn't result in non-blurry fonts; I sometimes have to actually mouseover the fonts to make them sharp again - and even that only works intermittently. In Slack, one message will unblur when I mouseover it, while the others remain blurry until THEY are moused over; and as I go, the ones I unblurred re-blur. Help?

I'm running Windows 10 Home version 20H2, fully updated, via a Dell Ultrasharp (U3415W) monitor at recommended settings (3440 x 1440). Graphics card is NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

I feel like this is some sort of setting issue, where Windows has decided my fonts in background windows aren't very important so it lets them blur? Only this is SUPER. ANNOYING. I have a friendly slack channel I'm in pretty much all the time, off to the side of my screen, and I glance over at it frequently to see what's going on while I work, or play video games, or read, etc. The blurry font makes this difficult. It's not that it's not readable -- it's vaguely readable -- it's that it always makes me feel like I'm going even more nearsighted than I already am, or like I forgot to put on my glasses.

Under "Advanced Scaling Settings" there's a setting that says "Fix scaling for Apps: Some desktop apps might look blurry when your display settings change. Windows can try to fix these apps so they look better when you open them the next time. This only works for apps on your main display, and it won't work for all apps. Let windows try to fix apps so they're not blurry?"

I've set this to both "on" and "off" and neither setting seems to alter this problem at all for slack windows, which is my main concern. I've also turned off custom scaling, and have nothing set to make text bigger or smaller - nothing seems to work.

Do you know how to turn this "feature" off? Or if it can't be turned off, is there some hack for fixing it? I can't believe I'm the only person in the world this happens to or the only person this annoyed by it. Help?
posted by invincible summer to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, and I connect via mini display port, if that makes a difference.
posted by invincible summer at 1:28 PM on September 25, 2021

Best answer: I have a very similar setup and no blurring. A screenshot of the blurring would help, or even better blurred next to unblurred in the same app window.

When you say "Slack" do you mean the desktop app? It's an Electron app which means it's basically a web browser. It also has a global zoom option. Make sure you're at no zoom by pressing Ctrl-0 or using the menu to select View / Actual Size.

Just to be sure: in Display Settings, under "Scale and Layout", is it set to 100%? That's the overall pixel zoom control in Windows and while Slack should work at different settings, 100% is the simplest. If you're feeling experimental try it at 125%. Slack should be bigger but still crisp. Some old apps will look blurry at 125%.

The mouseover behavior is bizarre. The only thing I can think that acts like that is the Mouse Magnifier. There's a Settings pane for that too, make sure "Use Magnifier" is turned off. (This doesn't make a lot of sense: ordinarily you'd see a 2x zoom effect, not just blurring.)

For that global "Advanced Scaling Settings" you mentioned.. Mine is set to On, that's generally the right setting. Make sure Custom scaling is unset, too. It will show greyed-out text saying "100 - 500" when it's unset.

One last thing to verify: you can set per-application zoom settings. Right click slack.exe, go to "Compatibility", and check "High DPI settings". Both checkboxes should be blank. It's very hard to imagine these got turned on without you realizing it, but it's worth looking.
posted by Nelson at 2:02 PM on September 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Nelson - thanks for the ideas! Yes, in Slack I mean the desktop app. I double checked and I'm at no zoom. Mouse magnifier is off, and has never been turned on. I'll double check the DPI settings for the Slack app when I'm back at my desk.

I'm not at the computer in question right now, but here's exactly what it looks like, including the blurred text right above unblurred text in the same window. That image is from someone who has basically the same question as me, but none of the responses in that thread were helpful.
posted by invincible summer at 2:21 PM on September 25, 2021

Best answer: So Slack is an electron application, and VS Code, the application in that thread, is also an electron app. I searched for "electron windows blurry," and I found this thread. There are at least two possible fixes in there. This one, disabling FXAA for the Slack application specifically, looks like it could work.
posted by whatnotever at 2:40 PM on September 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Wow that's super weird. Definitely not just text zoom gone slightly awry. I like the suggestion it's related to a GPU problem.

I use a 1080 Ti with a 3440x1440 monitor myself and don't have this problem. NVidia driver 456.71 (a month or so old?) fwiw.
posted by Nelson at 2:46 PM on September 25, 2021

Best answer: Do you have zoom on?

If you adjust ClearType, does that help at all?
posted by nickggully at 3:37 PM on September 25, 2021

Response by poster: I checked, and then unchecked the "High DPI" settings under compatibility in the Slack app properties, and that seems to have done the trick. I've had this fixed before and then go suddenly UN-fixed, but fingers crossed this one sticks. Thanks Nelson, and everyone else who answered!
posted by invincible summer at 6:59 PM on September 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

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