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How to Adjust the Appearance of ClearType Fonts in Windows Vista

ClearType is a special anti-aliasing tool developed by Microsoft to improve the appearance of fonts in certain monitors, such as LCD flat screens. Because every monitor is a bit different, Microsoft gives you the ability to adjust the appearance of the ClearType fonts in Windows Vista to suit your needs.

By default, Vista enables ClearType with a slightly thicker, darker setting than earlier versions of Windows. For almost all people, almost all the time, it works very well indeed. But by adjusting the ClearType for your specific monitor, you can smooth out any remaining choppiness and improve the appearance of ClearType fonts.

Vista ships with a handful of outstanding fonts custom-tuned for the ClearType technology: Cambria, Constantia, Corbel, Candara, Calibri, and Consolas.

To adjust ClearType, go to ClearType Tuner, which is Microsoft's online adjusting tool, and follow the instructions. When you're adjusting ClearType, keep the following in mind:

  • Use Internet Explorer to go to the site and adjust your settings.

  • Be sure to press the “Auto adjust” button for your monitor before settling on a specific setting.

  • ClearType works best with black text on a white background or white text on a black background, so be sure to check it in black and white. Color combination can look fuzzy.

  • Remember that ClearType works best with smaller fonts.

If some of your fonts look a bit funny in Windows Vista and you have an older, non-ClearType monitor, you might want to consider turning off ClearType. Although these fonts look great on LCD flat screen monitors, they might look a little gray around the gills on non-ClearType systems.

If you just don't like what ClearType does, or if you get a new monitor that doesn't work well with ClearType, turning it off is simple enough. Right-click any empty space on the desktop and select Personalize. Then click Windows Color and Appearance→Open Classic Appearance Properties for More Color Options. In the Appearance Settings dialog box, click the Effects button. You'll see a few options for smoothing the edges of screen fonts, including simply turning it (ClearType) off.

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