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Windows has never been the prettiest operating system. Up until recently, eye candy has mainly been the forte of Mac and certain distributions of Linux. While Modern UI (formerly known as Metro) has tried to play catch up, Windows still lacks in one important area: fonts.

As of now, Windows uses DirectWrite technology – which is based on their ClearType technology How To Make Text Easier To Read In Windows How To Make Text Easier To Read In Windows Most of us spend hours reading on the computer every day, but our computers probably aren’t optimized for reading. The text on our monitors may not be sharp enough or may be too small, especially... Read More – to render fonts but many consider it inferior to the FreeType-based font rendering system used in Mac, Linux, and Android. Sure, there are some who prefer the Windows aesthetic, but they are the exception and their numbers are few.

If you’ve ever wanted the beautiful font smoothing of Mac and Linux on Windows, then you’re in luck. There are two free programs that will replace DirectWrite with FreeType, resulting in cleaner, sleeker font graphics.

GDIPP

windows-font-smoothing-cleartype-vs-gdipp

What Is It?

Back in 2006, there was a Japanese developer who was fed up with the font rendering in Windows and decided to remedy the issue. He started writing a program called GDI++ to be a replacement for ClearType. Development didn’t last very long and the project was discontinued, but a couple of other developers managed to get their hands on the source code.

Under the new name of GDIPP, these developers began working on a spiritual successor that added more features, improved performance, and reduced compatibility issues between the various versions of Windows. To be clear, GDIPP does not use the same code that powered GDI++.

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GDIPP works on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows What Is the Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows? What Is the Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows? Do you know whether your computer is 32-bit or 64-bit and does it even matter? Yes it does! Let's take a look at where these terms come from and what they mean for you. Read More .

How Do I Use It?

It’s incredibly simple. Near-zero effort required.

  • Visit the GDIPP project site.
  • Download the latest version from the left sidebar.
  • Run the downloaded installer file.
  • Done!

Anything Else?

GDIPP runs in the background as 4 separate processes and these processes will automatically start up with Windows:

  • gdipp_svc_32.exe
  • gdipp_svc_64.exe
  • gdipp_hook_32.exe
  • gdipp_hook_64.exe

On 32-bit versions of Windows, you won’t see the 64-bit processes. On 64-bit versions of Windows, all four processes are necessary; the 32-bit processes will replace font rendering on 32-bit applications and the 64-bit processes will replace font rendering on 64-bit applications.

While GDIPP is reported to work on Windows XP Upgrade From Windows XP to a Modern OS in 7 Simple Steps Upgrade From Windows XP to a Modern OS in 7 Simple Steps It's time to say goodbye! Microsoft is ending official support for Windows XP on April 8 2014. Are you at risk? If you are still running this ancient operating system, it's time to upgrade. Read More and 2003, there are structural differences in those versions of Windows that may cause font rendering instability. If you run into those issues, it’s recommended that you try ezgdi, which is another project that aims to bring GDI++ font rendering on Windows.

MacType

windows-font-smoothing-cleartype-vs-mactype

What Is It?

Like GDIPP, MacType was also inspired by the death of the GDI++ project. The core functionality is the same – bringing FreeType’s font smoothing capabilities to Windows – but there are some advanced customization options that we’ll cover soon.

GDIPP is the easier program, so if you don’t want to deal with font engine tweaks and all that jazz, stick with GDIPP. MacType is more powerful and meant to be used by those who want control over the minor details.

How Do I Use It?

Installation and usage is slightly more complicated than GDIPP.

  • Visit the MacType project site.
  • Download the latest version at the bottom.
  • Run the downloaded installer file.
  • When prompted, choose “Complete” install.
  • Done!

Anything Else?

windows-font-smoothing-mactype-wizard

After installation, you should have two new shortcuts on your desktop that may be labeled in Chinese. One of them will be the MacType Wizard where you can select how MacType launches and which font smoothing profile you want to use.

The Default profile is a good one to start with.

windows-font-smoothing-mactype-control-panel

The other shortcut will be the MacType Control Panel where you can create new font profiles or edit existing ones. Font profiles determine which components are involved in the font smoothing process. Feel free to experiment here to discover which settings you like the best.

Of course, font smoothing will only look good on good-looking fonts. Get started with some of these awesome free fonts Spruce Up Your Website With These 12 Beautiful Google Web Fonts Spruce Up Your Website With These 12 Beautiful Google Web Fonts Over the past decade, I've started a number of personal blogs that I never really followed through with, but some of my fondest memories rest on theme design and font tweaks. There’s something satisfying when... Read More and keep yourself organized with these font management tools How To Download Free Fonts & Manage Them In Windows How To Download Free Fonts & Manage Them In Windows Fonts are the building blocks of digital aesthetics. Since Windows doesn't come with a font manager, we've looked at third-party alternatives. Read More .

And there you go! Now your ugly Windows fonts will be ugly no more. Do you prefer this new look or will you stick with ClearType? I know my answer. What about you?

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