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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?

  1. A
    October 9, 2016 at 2:55 am

    Now the fonts in win 10 looks worse

  2. Chamara Liyanage
    February 8, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Hey thanks, It worked fine!. Now fonts look rendered.
    But I have a slight issue with java based IDEs like pycharm,webstorm (jetbrains) the '=' (equal) sign is not displayed instead '-' (dash) is displayed
    for an example (int x=10 is displayed like int x-10)
    but not in eclipse,netbeans or other IDEs. This is not a big issue for normal users ,but thought this would be helpful for developers to make an update in next versions.

    • Joakim Koed
      May 26, 2016 at 10:40 am

      The two projects are really not continued. You are out of luck.

  3. Rob Stuart
    June 25, 2015 at 1:38 am

    I can't seem to find a way to download Mactype anymore, it seems the site is down. Has anyone had luck finding a source to download, or have any details I am missing?

    • Evan Langlois
      July 14, 2015 at 1:10 am

      Here, I'll mirror it myself since this is one of the first things I install when I'm forced to use Windows. Most browsers render things themselves and so this won't make much difference, and as people have mentioned, Microsoft changed Office 2013, but Office 2010 still uses GDI and thus, this fixes it.

      https://eddon.systems/Download/MacTypeInstaller_2013_1231_0.exe

      • Helena Ng
        August 7, 2015 at 4:21 am

        You're a live saver. Was so bummed when I formatted my computer earlier and found that the file is missing on their project page :(

        Thank you!

      • Lukasz Wiklendt
        September 1, 2015 at 1:51 am

        Fantastic! Works very well.

      • Mark Hooper
        September 17, 2015 at 3:42 pm

        Nice one mate, there's a reward in the after life for doing this.

      • KD
        January 12, 2016 at 11:57 pm

        Thanks a million!

      • Joe
        March 23, 2016 at 2:51 pm

        You can force Firefox and Chrome to use MacType by disabling DirectWrite.

      • Tarik
        April 10, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        the link is not working man.

  4. Mikey MacGruber
    May 22, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    As of right now, I can't get MacType to work in any browser with exception to Firefox, in software mode. I wish we could do a crowd fundraiser, aka a kickstarter.

  5. christain
    April 27, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I am also getting issue with Office 2013. I have tried MacType and it does not work. The fonts in Office 2013 looks terrible, simply terrible. As much as I have tried to ignore it, it comes back and haunt me (seriously). Just can't get over it. Please someone update MacType!

    • Joe
      April 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      MacType only works on the areas in Windows that use GDI font rendering. Office 2013 and later use DirectWrite instead of GDI, so MacType will have no effect.

  6. Steve S.
    April 27, 2015 at 2:22 am

    I was ready to buy two new monitors before I found this article. Thanks for saving me $1,000. ClearType was driving me nuts.

  7. F. Proc.
    April 24, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    There's a problem concerning MacType rendering in Chrome, beginning with version 41. Although only the font rendering for the Chrome interface has been changed, the rendering in websites has also changed. For instance, some characters are not rendered at all on websites, I think that the character space reserved by Chrome for a character is too small for the size provided by MacType. I tried to change the rendering system of MacType, but this fixed it only temporarily.

    Did you guys find the same problem like me? Did you find a workaround for that?

  8. Hardie Botha
    March 23, 2015 at 12:30 am

    I have never had a problem with Windows fonts. That was before the horrible interface in Win 8 and I started using Linux as my Primary OS. My new job forced me back to Windows as a company standard. While waiting for my PC for the first 2 weeks I used a Mac, which was ok, but I'm more familiar with Win/Linux. After 3 weeks of coding I realized how much the fonts actually bugged me especially when trying to fit a lot on a screen to get the big picture. Booting into Linux again just highlighted to me how bad the Windows fonts really are. Cleartype does basically nothing for small fonts. Mactype is a life saver!

    • Joel Lee
      April 12, 2015 at 1:23 am

      Glad to hear that MacType is helping you out! I agree, ClearType needs a big kick in the rear to get on the same playing field as Mac/Linux.

  9. Joe
    January 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I don't understand how people can't see a difference. Windows rendering is all jagged and thin (yes, with ClearType enabled). Mac/Linux rendering is smooth and has the appearance of a printed page. Windows feels 15 years old. As screens get bigger and have more pixels, Windows will look worse and worse. Microsoft needs to fix this in Win 10.

    • Joel
      February 1, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      I agree. There's a clear difference in favor of Mac/Linux rendering when it comes to fonts. I think you make a good point about resolution -- it wasn't this bad several years ago before the days of 1080p. ClearType hasn't aged well.

  10. Rahil
    January 6, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    MacType doesn't work under Windows 8 on some applications. Is it the same case for you? And as @Tom said gdipp looks outdated will it work on latest Windows version?

    • Joel Lee
      January 18, 2015 at 12:06 am

      Unfortunately I don't have a Win8 machine that I can use to test. However, even on Win7, some applications are not compatible with MacType but it's a rare occurrence. If I were you, I'd give both of them a try (make sure to try them separately, uninstalling one when you want to try the other) and see which one works better.

  11. Tom
    November 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    MacType does not support DirectWrite rendering in IE (who cares) and Office 2013/365, which I do care about, because suddenly the jaggies are back after upgrading from Office 2010. It's Microsoft's fault. It doesn't sound like the MacType people are going to add this functionality. I suspect gdipp (which hasn't been updated since 2010) does not work either but I haven't tried.

    • Joel Lee
      January 18, 2015 at 12:08 am

      It must be some kind of rendering engine update. MacType and GDIPP both approach rendering from different angles so it's possible that GDIPP would work with 2013, but I don't have 2013 so I can't test it for myself. If you give it a run, please let us know if GDIPP worked for you. Thanks!

  12. bolgwrad
    October 23, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Thanks for this. I'm running a Dell monitor and a cheap Siemens monitor, and GDipp seems to give an appreciably sharper font display, at least on the Dell. Oh, and I also used to own a 17" MacBook Pro but I gave it away when I found reconfiguring it to my own taste to be too much hassle:)

    • Joel Lee
      October 23, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      Great! I'm glad this ended up being useful to you. :)

  13. Siro
    October 9, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Your screen capture comparison clearly has ClearType disabled under the "Clear Type" panel.

    • Tina
      October 13, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Why is that?

    • Siro
      October 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Because it's too jagged and thin. I have cleartype and fonts don't render like that under cleartype. Only when it's off.

    • Joel Lee
      October 18, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      No, I ran the ClearType wizard prior to those screenshots. They are actually optimized for my monitors.

    • Siro
      October 18, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      That's really awkward.
      What font were you using for the demonstration?

    • Joel Lee
      October 19, 2014 at 1:58 am

      It's Meslo, derived from Menlo, which is based on Bitstream Vera. The text itself was typed using Notepad++.

      I don't know why but ClearType has always been ugly to me, and I don't think it's a monitor issue because I use dual monitors of different models. :(

  14. Eod Nhoj
    October 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Hmnnn...I didn't know that I was looking at something that was "ugly" on my screen. I work with Macs, too, and I have never found myself saying, "Gee, I wish my Windows PC looked this great!" Oh well, guess I'll just continue in ignorant bliss!

    • Tina
      October 13, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Do you appreciate Windows the way it is? If not, what do you wish Windows could do that you can do on a Mac (or vice versa)?

  15. John Weldon
    October 8, 2014 at 11:43 am

    "Sure, there are some who prefer the Windows aesthetic, but they are the exception and their numbers are few." Really? And you're basing this on what scientific evidence again? Has there been a huge hue and cry over Windows font rendering?

    These kinds of comments really just point out the obvious biases of an author and have no bearing on reality. Nice try, though.

    • Tina
      October 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

      I guess Windows users simply aren't as obsessed with aesthetics as Mac users. That would include me. I like a nice layout and a nice font, but I'm not obsessed with it and I certainly don't compare Windows to Mac at every turn. Hence, I didn't object this statement when editing the article.

    • Lord Horn
      November 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      John,

      You seem to be an "average" person who is happy with an "average" wife and "average" children and an "average" life. Probably had an "average" childhood and will pass away in an "average" manner from this world.

      No doubt you love "Average" windows fonts.

  16. firstclass
    October 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    ClearType looks better on my Dell monitor.

  17. Doc
    October 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I've always had good results with ClearType, even on CRT screens (when adjusted for the best look).

    • Joel Lee
      October 11, 2014 at 2:04 am

      ClearType does have its moments. Consolas looks fantastic on it (which it should, as it was designed to look good on ClearType).

  18. Anonymous
    October 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Based on the example images, to my eyes Cleartype is obviously better. The alternates both look simply bolded, which obscures detail. What is it you prefer about these alternates?

    • Joel Lee
      October 11, 2014 at 2:04 am

      Certainly it's a matter of preference. If you prefer the Windows aesthetic, there's nothing wrong with that. This is just for those who don't actually like it.

      As for me, I don't like the "thinness" of Windows font rendering. Ultimately I find that Mac/Linux smoothing is easier to read and a little more cozy.

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