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Tune Your ClearType Font Settings in Windows Vista

Many people have expressed to me their dislike of the default ClearType font smoothing in Windows Vista, and asked for a way to change the settings to something better. You have a couple of options here:

Once you download the setup program and start the install, you’ll get an error message, which you can ignore. You might want to create a restore point if you are really worried. Just click the Run Program button to start the install.

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After the install completed, it immediately launched the wizard for me. If it doesn’t, or you want to open the ClearType Tuning wizard again, just open up Control Panel and click on Appearance and Personalization. You should see ClearType Tuning near the bottom of the window.

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Once you launch the utility, you can either run through the wizard, which isn’t a bad choice, or you can click the Advanced tab to directly change the settings.

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Once you start the wizard, you’ll be taken through a couple of screens where you click the box that you feel is best. At the end of the wizard, it will change the settings and then close.

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If you decided to click the Advanced tab instead, you can directly change the settings. The default value for me was 1.2, which is actually the value I prefer, but you might want it lighter or darker.

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Once you are done tuning your settings, you will have to close an reopen any windows in order to have the new changes take effect. It’ll be worth it, though! 

Note that there are some registry hacks to accomplish the same thing… although why you’d use registry hacks instead of this sweet utility I just don’t know.

Download ClearType PowerToy from Microsoft

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/20/07

Comments (13)

  1. Mr Linux

    Most modern CRTs look best with ClearType. It’s only the really old ones that can’t handle the subpixel rendering.

  2. Levent Dal

    In laptops and such monitors it is a must have.

    In my CRT (runs on XP system) I love ClearType in web pages but the menu and title bars aren’t that good. Indeed it is blurry no matter how dark or light I set the font color. So till IE7 I couldn’t use it.

    In IE7 you can enable ClearType from the list in advanced settings.

  3. CDE

    nooooo!!
    i preferred how it was 1st, how do i change it back?

  4. The Geek

    Just set it back to 1.2, which was the default.

  5. Mr Vertigo

    What does this utility actually do (in visual terms)? Makes fonts darker? Thicker? Smoother than the default ClearType?

  6. kyle

    i use gdi tray and its awesome!

  7. Alex Jones

    Still not good, but better than the default level. Why can’t I uninstall ClearType altogether? It gives me headaches.

  8. Darth Vader

    Standard looks worse than ClearType in Vista (I have a CRT made in 2004).
    The font will look thin or stringy.. not dark enough (if in standard mode). Is there a way to fix that other than using ClearType?

  9. CJD

    GDI tray is better than ClearType, but aliased fonts are easiest on the eyes. I love crisp fonts; ClearType seems like eye-rape to me.

  10. Alister

    BTW I’m just posting here because it’s one of the places I passed through in my search for a solution, so hopefully it might help someone else.

  11. Alister

    In fact, this might be the place I saw GDI tray mentioned, which is actually the solution, although CJD obviously hadn’t figured out how to disable antialiasing with it.

  12. trlkly

    The problem with GDI Tray is that it doesn’t shift the letters over, so you wind up with fonts that have different sized lines, and it looks rather ugly. ClearType with the contrast turned all the way up looks better ,even if you can still see some coloration problems.

    I honestly wish Microsoft would just release ClearType with a CRT mode that completely disables the chroma subsampling, and just uses shades of gray. It looks so much better.

    And if, for some reason, you don’t want antialiasing, then just shut off all font smoothing. No need for an extra program.

  13. trlkly

    Nevermind. I was using an old version of GDITray. The new version is much improved.

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