fixing your desktop

Eclipse v3.5 / OS X: Breaking the fonts is “non optional”

EDIT: the fix that worked for most (not all) people on the internet … doesn’t work for me. Even with reboot. I have no idea how to fix this now :(.

Look what they’ve done to the latest release of Eclipse: (old version at top – rendering CORRECTLY on high-res monitor; new version below – rendering BLURRY on high-res monitor)
Eclipse aliasing 3.5
(note the side-by-side compare with the old version – in the same screenshot – so presumably Eclipse 3.5 is using a different font-rendering call than Eclipse 3.4).

i.e. it’s now unusable on OS X. Unless you enjoy headaches and probable permanent damage to your eyesight (oh, you like that? OK. Good for you. Leave the rest of us – with decent LCD monitors – alone, please).

Is there an option to disable this?


But you can set an OS X *command-line* hack (yes, this is Apple – they don’t trust users to configure their own computers, so no GUI: instead, you have to do it the old-fashioned way).

defaults write org.eclipse.eclipse AppleAntiAliasingThreshold 20

And … breathe! Phew. Although, sadly, it apparently also requires a full reboot. Sigh. Microsoft solved this about 10 years ago. Never again tell me OS X is “vastly superior to Windows”. Anyway, fingers crossed…

5 replies on “Eclipse v3.5 / OS X: Breaking the fonts is “non optional””


If your graphics card has one of those gimmicky magnifying glass modes you can see it more clearly (sorry, I should have blown-up a section to make it easier to see). On OS X, you can do a realtime “zoom” by hitting some combination of four keys, cant remember which, sorry.

Or … find a really sharp LCD monitor: what you think “seems easier to read” will appear noticeably harder to read once the mointor is sharp enough (and/or your eyesight is good enough).

The downside is that it LOOKS MORE PRETTY – which is the main reason that people like Apple try to force you to use it. When you have a cheap LCD monitor, you lose the benefit of sharp text anyway, and it works OK. When you have a decent monitor (pretty cheap these days), you WOULD have sharp text if the software were rendering correctly.

A prime example of the problem is the letter i : because it’s thin, this “improved” rendering from Apple will often render the “i” as “light grey” when all the other text is “black” – because they’re attempting to make the letter average-out to what it would look like on a higher-resolution monitor. Nice idea, but the effect is like reading a very very very cheaply-printed book, one where the letters all have different ink amounts. Nasty.

I’ll just say that I’m reading this blog post on a 15″ macbook pro and the second version is much easier to read. Of course on other monitors … it’s true, anti-aliasing can be a bad thing if the text is too large.

So… what is your magical monitor? When I zoom into the image I see the difference, when I look at it on my 15.1″, 1680×1050 Thinkpad (so fairly high ppi) the bottom looks *vastly* better.


I’m not asking whether you think it looks “better”.

I’m asking whether it’s blurry. And it is.

Apple is clear on this: they deliberately blur the fonts. They do this so that it appears on screen most-similar to if you printed the text out on a physical printer.

They do this to make it easier for print-designers to do their jobs.

Many people find the AA fonts “prettier”. They are, technically, because they’re faking a higher-res screen.

However, nothing is free: this faking is done by artificial blurring. If your screen is high enough res, and the fonts are high-contrast (e.g. white on black), and you have good eyesight … your eye-muscles will constantly shimmer back and forth in focussing, trying to get the damn letters to focus.

That kind of hard, constant, muscle work is involuntary – but it strains the muscles, and gives people headaches. It’s not good for you.

If your monitor is poor, or your eyesight poor, it won’t happen – your eyes won’t detect enough of the blurriness to try focussing. And then you’ll sit there telling me it’s prettier.

Indeed, it’s pretty. But for many of is, it’s also *physically painful*.

Comments are closed.