Sharpen the Images on Your Screen

Key to Instructions
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Q. I hear there’s a way to get my screen images, especially text, to appear sharper. How can I do that?

A. If your computer runs on the XP operating system, you can evoke what Microsoft calls ClearType—a technology for sharpening the slightly fuzzy edges of letters and graphics by improving the screen’s pixel appearance. Pixels are the tiny, illuminated spots that make up an image. I can’t say I understand how the sharpening is done, but I don’t really care because I like the result, it’s a cinch to implement and understanding the technology won’t improve the outcome. To be fair, I should add that not everyone agrees the technique improves text sharpness, especially on laptops. I’ve also heard some desktop users claim that after a day of viewing ClearType-adjusted screens they have a headache. But since it’s easy to install and ever easier to uninstall, it’s worth a try.

To set it up, go to (just typing in that address alone should give you a headache) and follow the instructions for selecting whichever of the six text appearances looks the sharpest; clicking on an image triggers your XP operating system to evoke that specific ClearType adjustment.

Be aware there’s sleight of hand at work here. Those choices of type you see on the screen are not “real” text generated by your computer. They’re actually pictures (icons) that trigger a specific adjustment process. But no matter; select the one that is the sharpest for you and click on it. Those images look different on different screens. That’s all there is to it.

If you later find you don’t like the one you chose, right-click anywhere on your desktop and then click on Properties , Appearance and Effects , producing this screen.

Then click on the arrow under Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts .

After you click on OK , you should see the difference on the screen. If you’re not satisfied, go back to the Effects screen and click on the arrow next to ClearType until you see Standard and click on OK .


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