Fixing Windows font sizing. Sort of.

So, I’ve got this nifty new laptop. It’s fast and reliable and it’s got a huge 15-inch screen.

The screen’s native resolution is 1400×1050. So the huge screen is full of tiny text.No problem, right? Right-click on the desktop, hit properties, go to appearance, go to font size, select extra large, and go to town, right?

Not quite. When I did that, I got big, gorgeous fonts some of the time and little teeny fonts other times and lots of apps, even those from the Vole itself, can’t handle the font size change without going all goofy.

A better solution is hidden more deeply. Right-click on the desktop and select properties. But go to settings, advanced, and under general, you’ll find a DPI setting. Since the default is 96 DPI and this screen’s resolution is about 50% larger than I would like, I switched to a custom setting and scaled to 150%, which gives 144 DPI.

Many CSS-heavy web pages still display goofy, including this one, so I end up hitting CTRL-+ and CTRL– to adjust the sizes of pages to make them readable, but apps like Outlook (yes, I’m one of those poor souls stuck in an MS Exchange environment) that don’t respond well to the large fonts setting work much better when you change the DPI.

So now I can take advantage of the high resolution display to actually make the computer display look better, rather than merely cramming lots more stuff in the same space as before.

2 thoughts on “Fixing Windows font sizing. Sort of.

  • September 28, 2004 at 4:54 pm
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    In my WUXGA (1920×1200), I found that Linux did a better job of allowing me to customize font sizes consistently than Windows. (Only niggle being to *also* customize root settings for the occasion when running some program as su.)

    I agree that web pages can be a pain. Some are bad enough in "normal" rez, but really tough when rendered on the minipixel LCD.

  • September 29, 2004 at 11:21 am
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    Many CSS-heavy web pages still display goofy, including this one, so I end up hitting CTRL-+ and CTRL– to adjust the sizes of pages to make them readable

    Ah, you’ve run into the “default” dpi/ppi issue. Windows typically assumes a 96 ppi screen res (Macs use 72 ppi). The W3C suggests a “reference pixel” based on a 96 ppi. Basically, what this all means is that when rendering CSS-based fonts, browsers need to told the device resolution. From what I’ve read, IE/Win handles this for you automagically; IE/Mac has a setting for it. And so does Firefox. I’m still running FF 0.9 at work, so YMMV, but under my Tools->Options, General section, I see a Fonts & Colors button. Look for the “Display resolution” pulldown in the next dialog. Select Other…, and specify your device res. I guess in FF, you’re supposed to measure the line on the screen to get the proper pixel/physical unit ratio. I’d rather specify the ppi myself if I know it, but there you are.

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