Friday, July 13, 2018

macOS 10.14 Mojave Removes Subpixel Anti-aliasing

seelus (Hacker News, Reddit):

For anyone who wants to see whats coming when Mojave gets released without subpixel AA, I made a few comparison screenshots on a non-Retina display[…]

Peter Ammon:

Subpixel antialiasing is obnoxious to implement. It requires threading physical pixel geometry up through multiple graphics layers, geometry which is screen-dependent (think multi-monitor). It multiplies your glyph caches: glyph * subpixel offset. It requires knowing your foreground and background colors at render time, which is an unnatural requirement when you want to do GPU-accelerated compositing. There’s tons of ways to fall off of the subpixel antialiased quality path, and there’s weird graphical artifacts when switching from static to animated text, or the other way. What a pain!

This seems like a good engineering trade-off: simplify the code and testing, since the future is Retina. I say this as someone using an external 1x display. However, I’ve never liked seeing the colored pixels. I think text looks better with “Use LCD font smoothing when available” off and “Increase contrast” on. The worst part was that, no matter whether LCD font smoothing was enabled, there were always inconsistencies between different windows (even within the same app). That should no longer be a problem now.

Previously: Removed in macOS 10.14 Mojave, Mavericks Font Smoothing, Layer-backed Text Rendering, Anti-Aliasing in Leopard’s Menu Bar.

Update (2018-07-16): Colin Cornaby:

No idea what they did, but text does seem improved on Mojave B4. I can’t tell if it’s as good as subpixel AA, but it’s no longer offensive to my eyes.

Update (2018-11-12): Steve Sande:

Depending on the Mac’s display and your personal preference, you may find that text looks “better” to you when font smoothing is disabled by unchecking the box, or vice versa. The enabled setting provides a somewhat more bold-looking font with more anti-aliasing (smoothing jagged edges on curved lines and diagonals).


This last method provides a manual way to change the strength of font smoothing settings in macOS. Depending on whether you wish to have light, medium or strong font smoothing enabled, enter one of the following commands in Terminal, press Return, and then log out and back in or reboot the Mac.

13 Comments RSS · Twitter

Is it permanently gone or is the code still there able to be activated by some terminal command?

@Clark Pretty sure it’s fully gone.

Where is the "Increase contrast" option?

I disabled LCD Font smoothing, and I really don't notice the big of a difference on my non-retina display.

@Matt System Preferences ‣ Accessibility ‣ Display.

This is disappointing.

I like "LCD Font Smoothing" because it makes fonts look slightly more bold, and with Apple pushing the ultra-thin and extra small font faces in interfaces after moving away from Lucida Grande it feels more necessary than ever on my eyes. I have had consistent and fairly annoying eye-strain when dealing with the Mac OS interface ever since Yosemite, and though the introduction of San Francisco fonts made it slightly better, they're still too thin and without enough interface contrast for my vision, and I know I'm not the only person who feels this way.

Personally I wish Apple would add a "Bold Fonts" option to Mac OS .... err 'macOS' ... much like they have in iOS, but for some reason they seem hesitant to do that despite it being a clear Accessibility improvement. Having a dynamic system-wide text size adjustment capability would do wonders for Accessibility as well, which is another iOS feature that is desperately needed on the Mac. Maybe one day we will be gifted with these simple accessibility improvements on the Mac? Bigger and bolder fonts, as an Accessibility option... imagine that!

@Michael Tsai, Clark: I came across this article regarding a terminal command that will enable the anti-aliasing again. I'm not sure if this is something temporary that will disappear upon Mojave being released, but I'm watching closely since I'm still stuck on a crappy MacBook Air display.

@Pete I think that command just adjusts the level of regular (non-subpixel) anti-aliasing.

[…] the battery lasting an hour or two. I leave it plugged in most of the time) and this article from Daring Fireball pretty much spells the end of life for my favourite laptop […]

[…] Apple removing subpixel antialiasing from Mac OS 10.14 Mojave, it’s clear that Apple is reaching a ‘Retina everywhere’ point. […]

[…] macOS 10.14 Mojave Removes Subpixel Anti-aliasing […]

[…] изменения в сглаживании шрифтов были первыми заметил во время бета-периода Мохаве, но сохраняются и сегодня. Благодаря для […]

[…] modifications du lissage des polices ont d’abord été constatées pendant la période bêta de Mojave, mais persistent aujourd’hui. Merci à pour la référence spécifique de Mojave […]

[…] Änderungen an der Schriftglättung waren zuerst gesehen während der Beta-Phase von Mojave, aber bis heute bestehen. Dank an für Mojaves spezifischen Verweis auf diesen […]

Leave a Comment